What follows may be the worst single paragraph in New York Times food writing in 2011. It’s from an article titled “Adapting Julia Child for E-Readers.” Grab onto something solid, and read on:

“On Wednesday Alfred A. Knopf will release the e-book edition of one of the most famous cookbooks: ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking,’ by Julia Child, immortalized in the best seller ‘Julie & Julia’ and its film counterpart, starring Meryl Streep.”

The key problem here, of course: the word immortalized.

Was Mastering the Art of French Cooking actually immortalized by Julie & Julia? Was it otherwise going to fall into a sad, shadowy oblivion, remembered only by a few gastronomic historians? Was it preserved only by the timeless artistry of Julie & Julia, an artistic work likely to be studied and celebrated long after human beings have shed their flesh-based forms and evolved into ethereal beings composed of light and music?

Here are a few other stabs at the same paragraph:

“… besmirched by the best seller Julie & Julia and its film counterpart, starring Meryl Streep.”

“… temporarily tarnished by but ultimately transcending the best seller Julie & Julia and its film counterpart, starring Meryl Streep.”

“… a fine book tragically dragged through the mud by the carnival sideshow of Generation Y bubble-brained self-celebration that was the questionable best seller Julie & Julia and its film counterpart, a movie saved from being a critical zero only through the labors of the unquestionably talented Meryl Streep.”

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