In a truly timely bit of posting, Robert Cottrell, founding editor of The Browser, the indispensable newsletter of impeccable curation, sent out one of his every-so-often editor's letter, entitled: How to Feed a Dictator.
In it, he talks about a book of the same name by Witold Szablowski, "a Polish journalist and former chef who interviewed at length six cooks once employed by now-dead dictators," according to Cottrell.
First of all, what an amazing premise for a book, no? Just top-tier stuff, where, if I were a publisher and this proposal came to me, I couldn't sign it up fast enough. It's inherently interesting, in a once-you-think-about-it-you're-mind-will-be-consumed kind of way. How do chef's tasked with feeding some of the most paranoid (with good reason) people in the world? I could wait a lifetime and an idea that good would never find me.
As I was reading this tonight, I was thinking, "Oh wow, what are the odds this would have come through this morning?" as earlier today I and the rest of the world followed news of the airplane crash outside of Moscow that likely killed Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the mercenary group that briefly staged an armed rebellion against the Russian military.
I thought it was a fitting and very on-point post that would make for interesting linking. "These examples are fitting in this day and age of Putin," I thought. "And on the same day as he likely put out a hit on someone once close to him."
But no. Cottrell went even further and cited Putin (and Prigozhin) directly; I'd completely forgotten the crazy tidbit that Prigozhin was once Putin's chef:
Was it some deep-seated reverence for the kitchen which underpinned the reckless indulgence with which Putin allowed his own chef, Yevgeny Prigozhin, to go into the private army business, recruit tens of thousands of mercenaries, then turn them against Putin's own General Staff in June's abortive mutiny?
Still more bizarre, at first glance, has been Putin's apparent willingness to forgive Prigozhin his trespass. He and Prigozhin were said to have met privately a few days later, and Putin was said to have accepted Prigozhin's argument that the mutiny had been launched in support of Putin, and directed against only the General Staff, whom Prigozhin claimed had been sabotaging Putin's war in Ukraine.
Preposterous as this sounds, and whatever the true story, I detect a more general principle at work here: Chefs always survive.
I got this story just after 6 a.m. and just hours later I was watching footage of the plane falling to the earth.
I doubt that this wild bit of timing is likely to mean anything big for Cottrell and The Browser, but if nothing else, let this serve as an advertisement of its ability to deliver endlessly fascinating content, often with timely connections.
If someone stumbles across this post and somehow doesn't already know of The Browser, then you heard it here first: subscribe, subscribe, subscribe. You won't be disappointed.
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