Marilyn Hagerty, Kindred Spirit

By Karen

The book deal Anthony Bourdain forged with Marilyn Hagert bore fruit on August 27 when an anthology of her newspaper columns, Grand Forks, a History of American Dining in 128 Reviews, was released by Bourdain’s imprint at Ecco Press.

I still have no desire to read it, but I caught online last week this clip of Hagerty doing the Today Show.

Only in a galaxy far, far away would an author publishing 30-year-old material be getting even a nanosecond of air time on any national talk show. Indeed, during Hagerty’s interview, they flashed several pics of Bourdain, looking fetching, as if to explain why they were letting this relative nobody fill space between their commercial breaks.

But it was while Matt and Savannah had Marilyn taste and give a spot review on the latest NYC foodie obsession, the cronut, which Marilyn pronounced “chewy,” that it suddenly occurred to me…

In spite of all the attention she’s gotten from Bourdain and the foodie elite since her review of Olive Garden went viral, Marilyn Hagerty was, and always will be, an UnFoodie!

She eats at Taco Bell and McDonald’s. She eats things out of cans. She probably eats cheese slices wrapped in cellophane. And her readers do likewise. And they enjoy it.

In other words, like most of us, Marilyn Hagerty eats to live, she doesn’t live to eat.

As I watched Marilyn hold her own against that pair of New York sophisticates, possibly not even realizing she was defanging them with her innate civility and common sense, I felt great admiration for her.

In the airless, jaded realm of food worship, where the grosser and scarcer a thing is, the more tasty it must be, Marilyn Hagerty speaks with a clear voice for the goodness of a meatloaf made with ketchup and cheap hamburger.

(Yeah, I know Bourdain’s been saying pretty much the same thing while flogging her book, but somehow it rings hollow coming out of his ortolon-tainted mouth. I, on the other hand, have no dog in this fight.)

The plain food we UnFoodies eat is OK, too. Sometimes it’s even tasty. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We shouldn’t feel bad about being grossed out by bugs and animal guts. It’s OK if our cheese is wrapped in plastic so it doesn’t get moldy.

Marilyn, you go, girl!

7 Responses to Marilyn Hagerty, Kindred Spirit

  1. Imabear says:


  2. catsworking says:

    I mean, really, when before have we seen someone with truly pedestrian taste on TV? Even the “home cooks” in the competitions constantly manage to pull all sorts of frou-frou stuff out of their butts. I’ve been watching Master Chef, and every week I see something that makes me shake my head and think, “Not in a million years could I have dreamed of making that.”

    Ramsay’s doing a kids’ version of Master Chef that promises to be interesting. Will we see an even kinder, gentler Ramsay (he’s already the marshmallow of that bunch, next to the bald prick with no soul). Will he force the kids to cook animal guts?

  3. Zappa's Mom says:

    If we call our favorites like grilled cheese sandwiches,meatloaf and layer cakes “retro”,we are foodies!

  4. catsworking says:

    Excellent point, ZM.

    Slightly off topic, I was just reading an interview with Brian Malarkey about being dropped from The Taste, and he says they have lined up a bigger name than him for next season. If it’s the bald prick from Master Chef who thinks he can read men’s souls, we’re screwed.

  5. adele says:

    I’m back, Two uncles died within 36 hours of each other, last month, a friend died (I’m beginning to feel like the black hammer), and my right eye was scratched — finally eye doctor found the culprit — the longest eyelash I’ve ever had had grown inward but was hard to find because it was white. My eye was so irritated that I couldn’t look at the computer screen. I could kind of check my iPhone because I could hold it at an angle.

    Anyhow, I read a sample piece of Marilyn Hagerty’s on Amazon, and I have to say, there was something kind of disarming about it.For the first time I could see some of the charm.

    Marcus Samuelsson will be the new judge on The Taste. He’s very talented but not unexpectedly has a large ego — I see him and Ludo getting into it.

  6. catsworking says:

    Adele, so sorry to hear about all the deaths. Our condolences. And that eyelash situation sounds simply freakish. When my eyelashes start turning white, I think I’ll throw in the towel and shave every hair on my body.

    I’m sure a Marilyn Hagerty column or two or three would be entertaining, but was she disarming enough to make you want to read a whole book of Grand Forks reviews? Seriously?

    I just saw yesterday that Samuelsson will be a judge, and I don’t know him from Adam. It would seem, from Ottavia’s good-luck tweet, that Bourdain is filming the series right now.

  7. Tuxicat says:

    Agreed! I ‘ve tweeted on my page that Andrew Zimmern would probably go to a litter box and eat a few samples of cat goodies to see why dogs think they’re tasty!

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