One reason the Globe and Mail became a terrible newspaper; giving space to columnist Leah McLaren who tries to cook lamb and poisons in-laws

The Toronto Globe and Mail used to be a decent newspaper. I was enamored with the paper and its journalists as a genetics undergrad, was thrilled when I started writing regularly for the paper in the 1990s, and then dismayed as the amount of crap published began to far outweigh the thoughtful stuf.

Once such sign of decline was the hiring of columnist Leah McLaren about a decade ago. Chapman was somewhat enamored with her self-indulgent depictions of young female life in hip Toronto; I thought it was bullshit.

Leah is still at the Globe as it continues its drawn-out decline, and wrote on Saturday that,

“This year for Christmas I poisoned the in-laws.

“They had flown all the way from Toronto to spend the holidays in London, dragging several extra bags of gifts across the Atlantic like a modern-day Santa and Mrs. Claus. In return, I had planned a feast for dinner.

“The centrepiece of the meal was a beautifully aged prime rib roast. I had purchased it, for nearly $100, from my local Notting Hill butcher, who specializes in organic, free-range, ethically farmed beef, lamb and poultry.

“I don’t eat much meat these days, but everything about that shop made me feel safe, from the quaint striped awning to the well-heeled locals queuing up for their premium giblets to the butcher with his starched, white-linen apron making small talk as he trimmed the leg of lamb. Even the store’s slogan (“Real meat naturally fed”) was heartening. What could possibly be more healthy, comforting or downright trendy than a rib roast for Christmas? As I stepped out of the shop with my several pounds of Grade A flesh in hand, I was determined to follow the butcher’s emphatic instructions: “Do not overcook.”

“And I didn’t. The prime rib was perfect – except for the 36 hours of stomach-churning misery it caused everyone who ate it.”

Leah’s lesson from all this? Don’t eat red meat.

One Moses Shuldiner responded with a letter in the Globe today, stating that Leah’s “mistake was to not inform herself of proper food handling techniques as recommended by the Toronto Public Health Department, which can be downloaded from the City of Toronto’s website. … After reading information from public health anyone can, for a nominal fee, write the test to become a certified food handler, ensuring mastery of the material.”

Shill. Mere mortals do not have to become certified food handlers to cook dinner for the in-laws, or anyone else. I cooked lamb on Christmas Eve and my 1-year-old ate it. No one barfed. Use a tip-sensitive digital meat thermometer. Next time, Leah, stick it in.