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Roger Ebert dies at 70: Film critic was also a food fan

April 04, 2013|By Betty Hallock
  • Despite not being able to eat because of illness, Roger Ebert's zest for cooking remained strong.
Despite not being able to eat because of illness, Roger Ebert's zest… (AP )

Film critic Roger Ebert died at age 70 after a long battle with cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands. Best known for his witty movie reviews, Ebert was also a food enthusiast who, among the more than a dozen books he wrote, penned "The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker."

The book was published in 2010, four years after surgery that damaged his carotid artery left him with a hole in his throat and unable to eat, drink or speak. He was fed liquid paste through a tube in his stomach, but undeterred (the quality for which he was so widely admired), he finished the book that started as a blog post.

"To be sure, health problems now prevent me from eating," he wrote. "That has not discouraged my cooking. Now cooking is an exercise more pure, freed of biological compulsion."

Photos: Roger Ebert on food movies

A food fan, Ebert wrote at length about the hamburger chain Steak 'n Shake in his autobiography, "Life Itself: A Memoir." "If I were on death row, my last meal would be from Steak 'n Shake." He once old the New York Times, "Food for me is in the present tense. Eating for me is now only in the past tense."

And he really did love the rice cooker; he'd even traveled to the Sundance Film Festival with it. "You can cook about everything but a souffle."

Among the recipes: macaroni and cheese, spicy beef chili and mushroom risotto, all meant for the busy cook trying to get dinner on the table, whether for one person or for a family.

And, yes, the recipes include plenty of movie references. For example, "You can substitute any grain of your choice. Even amaranth, seen as the favorite side dish in 'The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.'"

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