R: Soda is fascinating to me because I think it is an absolutely acquired taste. Nobody likes soda naturally. Ever drink a warm Coca-Cola? It’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever had in your mouth. I think you have to learn to like this stuff. I never did.
P: As a kid I did—I loved it. Not warm, though. Well chilled.
R: You shouldn’t let your soup get cold. It smells good.
P: And what about readers? Could you tell they were responding?
R: Our readers loved this stuff. That was the thing. In my second issue I think, we did a profile of Thomas Keller. This is like ’99. Would you like a deviled egg? It’s delicious.
P: Yeah, try some of this soup.
R: So there’s this scene where...have another egg...where Keller wanted to make rabbits and kill them himself. And he does a really inept job. He manages to break this rabbit’s leg as he’s trying to kill it and he says rabbits scream really loud. It’s gruesome. And we thought long and hard about whether we were going to put this in the story. And I said: “It’s going in because he concludes that if he’s alone in the kitchen and he’s finally killed this rabbit, it’s going to be the best rabbit anybody ever ate because he finally understood in that kitchen with this screaming rabbit that meat was life itself.” And I said there’s no way I’m leaving this out of the piece. So my publisher looks at this and goes crazy.
P: In my new book, I tell the story of my pet pig, Kosher. My dad gave her to me, and named her . Anyway, Kosher loved the smell of barbecue, and one day that summer she escaped her pen, made her way up the beach on Martha’s Vineyard, found a man grilling a steak on his deck and, like a commando, rushed the grill, topped it and ran off with the guy’s steak. Luckily for me the man had a sense of humor.
R: So what happened to Kosher?
P: Well, she grew and grew and grew. Toward the end of the summer I went to the state fair and entered Kosher and she won a blue ribbon.