Chatting With Miriyummy: Richard Rusch
Meet Richard Rusch. We both grew up in the Bronx, minutes away from each other, but only met years later, in 2002, and where else, on the Internet. Richard is one of the founding members of Recipezaar, and when he heard I was coming to the Bronx to visit my parents he insisted we meet up.
“Are you meshugah, Miraleh?” my Jewish mother shrieked. “You have no idea who this man is, he will kill you.”
“Are you insane, Richard?” his Italian mother shrieked. “You have no idea who this woman is, she will kill you.
Needless to say, we’re both here nine years later, but honestly, what was I thinking? I had brought Sassy with me on a special Mommy/Sassy trip to New York before she started her National Service, and we both set out to meet Richard in a very public place, outside of Dunkin’ Donuts in Bay Plaza in the Bronx.
“Will you look at the punim on that kid?” Punim is Yiddish for face. It turns out that this sweet Italian man has the soul of a Jewish grandmother.
In the years after that Richard and I would hang out whenever I hit the Bronx for a visit. My mom grew to love him as he praised her latkes and her blintzes. Nothing made her happier than a nice boy who eats her food. My kids loved our outings with him, because even though we always went to foodie places (which makes my girls snore), Richard always made sure they had fun.
Sadly, Richard lost the love of his life in December 2009, and has since moved upstate to be with his family. Since my parents died there’s no longer a reason for me to go back to the Bronx. Maybe I can convince him to come out here for a visit? What’s a blintz but a Jewish cannoli, right?
Where do you live, and why?
I grew up in the city of New York, but now live in Hudson Valley of upstate NY abour 70 miles from the city. I live in a house with a backyard and a staircase–two foreign things for a kid from the Bronx. I love it up here!!
What is your family like?
I am widowed and have no children—I do have a brother, sister in law, 2 nephews, and a bunch of first cousins that I consider sibblings–so along with them and their spouses and kids I have a rather large family.
What is your relationship with food? Do you like to cook?
I have a love/hate relationship with food–I love food, but I am the size I am because of it. I love to cook–it is my drug!
What is your first food-related memory?
It involves pasta.
How would you describe yourself in the kitchen? As a host/hostess?
I am a neat and efficient cook–wish I was in the rest of my life. My parents loved to entertain and I inherited the gene–I love to open my home to family and friends. (I can vouch for this. Richard, ever mindful that I keep kosher and wouldn’t eat in his house, filled his kitchen with Entenmann’s cakes and donuts when I came to visit. — M)
What is your favorite comfort food and why?
Pasta, it was the first solid food I was fed.
Desert island picks, name three foods you could not live without
Pasta, bagels, butter and cheese—I chose four, shoot me!
Is there any food you hate? Why?
Organ meat and dark meat poultry–I think it is an asthetic thing.
What is your favorite Miriyummy post and why?
I love when Mirj talks about her parents—My parents are both gone too and it is always nice to visit them.
Do you have a food-related story you would like to share?
Too many–it is always about the food!
Richard is not just a good friend to have, he’s a phenomenal cook. Actually, I’ve never tasted his food for kashrut reasons, but I have cooked up a few of his recipes. You might like to check them out here. I can personally vouch for the following: