Now with 40 Percent More Old-Tyme Goodness

Dear Christopher Kimball:

God knows I love you. I love that dweeby little bow tie you wear on America’s Test Kitchen. I love the way that all the recipes I use from your magazine always turn out, provided I double the amount of garlic. And I loved that when I saw you do a book reading in San Francisco and someone asked you how you stayed so trim, you first said something about “moderation and high moral fiber,” then coughed, laughed, and admitted it was all genetics.

But you of all people should know that your homespun style of writing, replete with nuggets of small-town wisdom and flannel-clad locals spouting plain truths, makes you easier to lampoon than even Frank Bruni. I mean, let’s just take this sentence from your November/December 2007 Cook’s Illustrated editorial: “Those days in Vermont were full of creosote, rough-sawn boards, homemade peach ice cream, mice nesting in waders, and swimming holes so cold they could shrink a full-grown sow down to the size of a woodchuck.” Yep. That’s what I’m saying.

So even you should admit that the Christopher Kimballotron, a faux-Kimball-column generator crafted by the Grinder’s own James Norton, is pretty damn funny. The Kimball-loving reader is directed to pick through a few multiple-choice selections (“Area dog who met tragic end”; “Name of farm chore”; “An old recipe Kimball hasn’t forgotten”), eventually producing a custom-made column that begins something like this:

Bucket’s Bittersweet Reward

By Christopher Kimball

There’s an old Vermont road that I think about from time to time. It travels past the Wayside Country Store, and then turns slightly to the left. After that, it passes the hayfields and winds through a number of old apple orchards. It means more to people around here than you might expect. This is where Jennie Achenfield started her famous sweet corn stand. This is where the McKenzie Family of Broadhurst stops every year to catch fireflies. And this is where Bucket — just a few years old, but with all the vigor of a good country dog — met a tragic end, chasing his last car straight past the hayfields.

He never made it to the apple orchards.

That’s the kind of memory that comes flooding back when you sit down for burnt-sugar ice cream.

And while it might not mean much to people who spend their time thinking about Wet-Naps, the Department of Homeland Security, and Moons Over My Hammy, it means a lot to people around here.

We may think that we’ve moved past fixing our tractors, or shucking the corn. But really, shouldn’t we worry that shucking the corn has moved past us? Old Charlie Pickering would shake his head a little sadly to hear it, but he’d probably smile a little too. That’s just the kind of guy he was.

Is it just me or could this completely pass for one of Chris Kimball’s editorials?