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C.J.: NYT food writer was joking -- not inventing stereotypes

  • Article by: C.J.
  • Star Tribune
  • August 13, 2012 - 7:58 PM

New York Times food writer Julia Moskin sounded as if she was just a tad weary Friday over getting feedback from her Aug. 1 article about Bachelor Farmer.

I heard some static myself about Moskin's piece featuring the year-old Scandinavian restaurant owned by gubernatorial First Sons Eric and Andrew Dayton. After reading the lengthy story, I thought it amusing how Moskin had parachuted into Minnesota and had no problem finding stereotypical fodder I've never noticed.

Case in point, her second sentence: "At every turn, there's a billboard for Norwegian language-immersion camp or a 'Drool if You're Finnish' baby bib for sale."

I told Moskin I'd been looking for that bib.

"Alright, alright," said Moskin.

While I've never met this food writer, I could tell that her voice was dripping with something. "My goodness," she said. "People are very concerned about this matter."

Oh really? So mine is not the first inquiry?

"Well, no. I got a lot of reader e-mail," said Moskin. "I would like to stipulate that this is the feature section. I certainly think the phrase 'you can't turn around' -- it's a feature story, it was a little bit of a joke. I felt like some people in the Twin Cities didn't quite get that it was a joke. But that's how it was intended, not in a mocking spirit but a friendly spirit. As an outsider [I found this] very noticeable, but I was also looking for it because that's what my story was about.

"However, OK. So the 'Drool if you're Finnish' bib, I think, was at Ingebretsen's or somewhere in the World Market near the tamale place. I'm not sure which one." (Her World Market may be better known as Midtown Global Market to locals. The Scandinavian shop near the market is Cafe Finspang, which does not sell the bibs. Ingebretsen's -- which is a few blocks down the street -- does carry a "Drool if you're Finnish" bib.)

As for that billboard? "There were many, many billboards for the Concordia Language Villages," said Moskin. "I didn't [write the name] Concordia because people outside the Twin Cities don't necessarily know what that is."

I'll take Moskin at her word and leave her with these:

The nerve endings of Minnesotans have been near the surface since that infamous insider hatchet job to our psyches perpetrated by the Coen brothers in "Fargo." Didn't bother me, but lots of Minnesotans felt as though the accent that won Frances McDormand an Oscar made us sound like rubes. Feelings remain sensitive.

Also, whenever reading the NYT, it's prudent to take into consideration that it has a tendency to make the inhabitants of most geographic regions outside of New York City sound like rubes.

Funny aside: News people don't really like being asked how we heard about what we're writing, and Moskin was no exception.

"I have to go" were the words Moskin spoke immediately after being asked that question. But she did answer: "Bachelor Farmer is obviously a famous place. I think it was when President Obama ate there." Asked if the story idea had come from, say, a restaurant PR person, Moskin was adamant: "No. Absolutely not. Absolutely not."

Ah, seems the New York Times has it own sore spots.

Ex meets ex

Mayte is looking like the breakout personality on VH1's "Hollywood Exes," which is rather surprising.

She's got chutzpah I never would have imagined from a woman who was married to Prince. And I'm not talking about the deplorable loss of composure that led to the throwing of a glass and its contents in a restaurant.

At least Mayte didn't throw it at anyone -- not even the empty-headed Jessica Canseco, whose insensitive remarks provoked the glass tossing. Mayte was upset about Jessica's attitude toward abortion. Mayte, who has lost two babies, still wants children and sought the advice of a fertility expert with cameras rolling.

There's a past or upcoming episode featuring Mayte having lunch with Eric Bent's new wife, Manuela Testolini, aka the second Prince ex-wife.

That's chutzpah! That's the kind of nerve that probably has Symbolina watching more closely than I have.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on FOX 9 Thursday mornings.

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