Question: Is a not particularly funny name funny if it is spelled unusually? I have not yet brought this query to the Blog of Funny Names Board (just kidding–no such thing), but I vote yes because it gives me license to write up a woman I admire.
First, a bit of background on why I care. Though a food science graduate, I knew nothing about cooking until post-college. Only after receiving a Betty Crocker cookbook for Christmas did I realize I wanted to be a food writer. While I’ve yet to publish a cookbook (one day!), I can legitimately claim food writing as part of my profession. (food for fun, anyone?) And I can legitimately say that I’m crazy about cookbooks.
Ms. Mollie Katzen has authored–and illustrated–some of the finest of the genre. With over 5 million books in print, Katzen is considered by The New York Times to be one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time. Her focus on whole–and often vegetarian–foods led to Health Magazine naming her one of five “Women Who Changed the Way We Eat.” Her healthy food cred also earned her a position as founding member of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Roundtable and one of the first inductees into the Natural Health Hall of Fame.
Evidence of her talent: Katzen’s first book, Moosewood Cookbook, is a literary and artistic feat. Hand-written, illustrated, and locally published, this spiral-bound notebook was inspired by recipes served at Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. Written in 1974, it went on to great fame: Several iterations and millions of copies later, it has become one of the most influential and beloved cookbooks of all time, earning a place in the James Beard Award Cookbook Hall of Fame as well as being coined a Cookbook Classic by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
Its sequel, Enchanted Broccoli Forest (1982), was as beautiful as its predecessor and went on to sell over a million copies. Other books include Still Life with Menu (1988), Pretend Soup (1994), Vegetable Heaven (1997), and Honest Pretzels (2004).
A New York Times article describes Katzen as “one of those visionaries who have been rendered almost invisible because they succeeded in making the unheard-of commonplace.” Katzen is largely credited with moving healthful gourmet food from the fringe to the center of American dinner plates. Though long associated with vegetarian cuisine, Katzen claims no membership in the veg club. Instead she says,
My vegetarian thing was never about meat or not; it was a massive vegetable obsession.
And that, my friends, is what Blog of Funny Names is all about. We love obsessions and we love to highlight folks who make a career out of them. So while there are no board meetings, there is a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Many thanks for being a part of that today with your visit!