Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Guess who's coming for dinner?

Roger Ebert and his Pot



Two humongous giants of the Western World died since the last Pique came out.

It's funny, as in quirkily funny, to consider Roger Ebert and Margaret Thatcher in the same beat. You wouldn't, normally, other than the fact that death knocked on their doors within four days of each other. But when you think of it, both were forces of nature within their own right, and both were hugely influential beyond their respective bodies politic.

Given some measures, some would argue it's Thatcher who's the greater giant.

I wonder.

For one, you can't trump love, and Ebert remains awash in it. Then there's the fact that the Washington Consensus is finally, finally being questioned. I can see the Thatcherism-Reaganism pendulum swinging back to more common ground, and all that "every man for himself" business ending up in the muck-heap of history, where it belongs.

In 100 years, I wonder, how will Margaret Thatcher be remembered, if at all? Witness the tweets reacting to The Guardian's Harry Style's announcement of, as one tweeter put it, "market thatcher's" death. "wish iknew what all this meant..." tweeted another. Politics lives in its own dry chamber.

On the other hand, I doubt very much that Roger Ebert's movie reviews or his famous thumbs will disappear a century from now. Gianter yet, after the Ebert lens was so gently but firmly placed on our eyeballs for all time, I don't think anyone, from any generation, will ever look at movies the same way again. Movies: arguably the most influential cultural force on the planet when they get things right.

Even if people don't know his name, his force remains — in his reviews, in his many books and teachings — long after his blogging stops. Just try to put down The Great Movies after telling yourself you're going to read one, only one, essay.

Besides, I'd be more than happy to have Roger over for dinner. (Maggie? Never.)

I'd even use his singular literary foray into the world of cooking to guide me.

One of the coolest things about The Pot and How to Use It is that Ebert wrote it in 2010, after surgery for cancer (papillary thyroid cancer) removed part of his jaw and rendered him unable to speak — or eat or drink.

"To be sure, health problems have prevented me from eating," he writes in chapter five, "To Repeat, Get The Pot". "That did not discourage my cooking. It became an exercise more pure, freed of biological compulsion." Imagine all of us cooking, freed of biological compulsion!

The Pot he's referring to — he capitalizes the "P" to distinguish it from some ordinary, riff-raff kind of pot — is the mighty rice cooker. And after reading The Pot, like after reading one of his movie reviews or essays, you'll never regard the subject matter the same way again.