Ever since Ruth Bourdain first popped up in the Twitterverse last year, filtering real Ruth Reichl tweets through a screen of Bourdain-worthy references to drugs and debauchery, there’s only been one question on our mind about it: who’s behind the keyboard? We thought we might find out at the James Beard Foundation awards – especially after a humor award was added to the food writing section, practically for the sole purpose of honoring the Twitter account – but alas it was not to be. Speculation has flown, and Alice Waters even admitted to authoring the tweets at one point (as an April Fool’s Day joke). But now Lee Svitak Dean, editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune food section, believes she has the answer: “Ruth Bourdain = Robert Sietsema,” she said, calling out the food critic at New York City’s alt-weekly Village Voice.
“How do I know who Ruth Bourdain is?” Dean rhetorically asked in the Table Talk blog she co-authors. “He was tweeting while listening to the same speaker I was, in a closed room in Charleston, SC, at a conference with the Association of Food Journalists. Ruth, Ruth, Ruth. You wanted to be found out!”
Not that she feels especially vindicated about the outing: “I have to say,” she continues, “I feel a bit like the one blurting out the truth about Santa AND the tooth fairy AND the Easter bunny all at the same time. Or as having pulled the curtain aside on the Wizard of Oz. Perhaps we should all just click our heels together and recite: "There's no place like Twitter with Ruth Bourdain.”
Is she right? She ended the blog by stating that she’s still waiting for a comment from Sietsema, and it didn’t take long. Within the hour, after the story was picked up by Eater National, Sietsema responded by saying: "I could do better humor wise. And don't forget Ruth was my patrón." Not that a comment like that really clears up anything one way or another. The world may never know – and, at this point, we kind of like it that way.