When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. And when celebrity chef Mario Batali’s apology for sexual misconduct gave us a cinnamon roll recipe, writer Geraldine DeRuiter made cinnamon rolls as well as a point about bad apologies. On her blog The Everywhereist, DeRuiter wrote about the process of making Batali’s cinnamon rolls and, more importantly, she wrote about how wildly inappropriate a cinnamon roll recipe is in the context of a conversation about sexual harassment.
“As many of you know, this week there has been some news coverage about some of my past behavior. I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team. My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.”
Then, the apology ended with a recipe for pizza dough cinnamon rolls.
“Batali is not the first powerful man to request forgiveness for “inappropriate actions” towards his coworkers and employees,” DeRuiter writes in her post. “He is not the most high profile, and he is ostensibly not even the worst offender. But he is the only one who included a recipe.”
So, DeRuiter made the cinnamon rolls.
DeRuiter tried to follow Batali’s half-baked recipe, which she said is “sparse on details.” His recipe notes that you can use store-bought dough or make it from scratch. “I make my own,” DeRuiter writes, “because I’m a woman, and for us there are no fucking shortcuts.”
In her piece, DeRuiter also includes personal details about the workplace sexual harassment she has experienced throughout her career. Between paragraphs about sprinkling cinnamon sugar and how tight to roll up the dough, she talks about a past coworker who made lewd comments about her when she was an intern, another who “walked his fingers across [her] lap” while she was working.
“If Batali was going to include a recipe for cinnamon rolls in his apology for sexual misconduct, then I was going to include stories of my personal experiences with sexual harassment and misogyny in a post about cinnamon rolls,” DeRuiter tells Bustle over email, “to illustrate just how absurd that is.”
DeRuiter is far from alone in that reaction. On Twitter, the initial response to Batali’s inclusion of a “fan favorite” recipe in his apology ranged from “...what? why?” to “no, but seriously why?”
“You know how serious Mario Batali is about apologizing for his past sexual misconduct? He included a recipe in his public statement,” tweeted NPR’s DJ Stretch Armstrong.
The internet (and society as a whole) too often does not look fondly upon women who speak out. In turn, women silence themselves lest they be silenced. Speaking to that internalized dismissiveness, DeRuiter writes, “Most women don’t even need to hear the shitty comments made to us anymore. We’ve heard them so many times, we can create our own.”
Her post includes a few self-manufactured troll-like comments, half-jokingly (half-not) berating herself for things like potentially messing up the recipe and even making the recipe in the first place. “I know that in the court of the internet,” she writes, “any output that is less than perfect will be blamed on me, and not on a hastily-written, untested recipe.”
Thankfully, the actual response to her post been “incredibly positive,” she tells Bustle.
“I've found that when I preemptively anticipate troll comments (as I did in the post), it often curtails the number of hateful responses I receive.” She also mentions Twitter is improving when it comes to filtering out harassment, but “it isn't full-proof, and they still aren't banning harassers.”
DeRuiter says her work has leaned more “lighthearted” in the past, including in her book All Over The Place which she describes as “a love-letter to both travel and my husband.” However, recent events and the current cultural conversation have lead her to write about weightier topics like sexual harassment. “I try to mix in levity, because I'm a humor writer at my core,” DeRuiter says, “and I think if we don't try to laugh at some of this stuff, it'll destroy us. But some days, that's really tough to do.”
If you’re looking for a laugh (hi hello who isn’t), you can read DeRuiter’s full piece on making the apology cinnamon rolls here. And if you’re looking for a consensus on how the cinnamon rolls actually tasted, I already said you can read her full piece here.