A colleague recently asked me what cookbook I prefer, and I unflinchingly said, Mark Bittman‘s How to Cook Everything. It’s simple, it’s wide-ranging, and it has few mistakes in it (that I’ve been able to detect at least).

There’s a temptation, I think, to figure out Bittman’s place in American cookery, which, in part, is what the recent (and excellent) New York Observer profile tried to do. Is he a home-cooking version of Michael Pollan? (No, he’s not as dogmatic.) Is he this generation’s Julia Child? (No, he’s not as Frenchified.) Is he the new James Beard or even Irma Rombauer? (Closer to the mark, but Bittman’s a better writer.)

The truth is, Bittman is carving out a unique place in America’s cooking history. Go read the Observer profile and see for yourself. You’ll learn why he’s become America’s home-cooking authority.