I picked up a galley the other day of the memoir Some Girls, by Jillian Lauren, and I basically haven't been able to put it down until just now, when I finished it. Here's the deal: Lauren is now a heavily tattooed hot mom who is married to the bassist for Weezer. But! At at eighteen years old, in the mid-90s, she was recruited to go to Brunei to be part of the harem of the brother of the Sultan. For reals. Crazy jewels and envelopes of cash and no-limit Singaporean shopping sprees and weird royal hate-sex and intense dormitory-style psychological catfighting amongst the ladies and wow.
Of course a female memoir wouldn't be a female memoir without at least a few of the following: eating disorders, fraught parental relationships, a search for a birth mother, odd interactions with predatory pedophiles, spiritual self-discovery, meaningful tattoos, drugs, alcohol, experimental theater, and lucid fluency in the language of psychotherapy. All of which are, of course, present in Some Girls in abundance. (Think Girl, Interrupted: Malaysian Crypto-Whorehouse Unit.) I might or might not have flipped through some of the framing-devices-of-self-discovery and gone straight for the E: True Hollywood Story-style descriptions of harem lavishness, but I am not ashamed of that fact.
The book doesn't come out until April (I'm so cool, I know, shut up) and 2010 predix, y'all, it will be the chic beach read this summer. Get up on that.
My culinary fantasies, in no particular order:
• A popcorn-tub-sized serving of Eric Ripert's tuna tartare, minus the wasabi.
• Buying a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, going home, and eating nothing but the skin. With my hands.
• A full dinnerplate serving of Alinea's black truffle explosion.
• A brown-bagged lunch containing a foie gras and pineapple jam sandwich, in manner of a pb&j, possibly with potato chips crushed into the sandwich.
• Chicken fingers breaded in crushed white-cheddar Cheez-Its.
• The best Italian sub in the history of the world.
posted by Helen at 21:25
I generally really hate the idea of siding with Caitlin Flanagan about anything, and this is probably going to lose me some of my more militant friends, but I have a sneaking suspicion that when it comes to Alice Waters's Edible Schoolyard program, Flanagan may be exactly right with the calling of bullshit. Maybe not so much with the outright accusations of racial suppression, but there's something rotten in the state of California.
Plenty of people I respect disagree vehemently with Flanagan (and, by extension, my agreement with her), but there are a couple who are on the same side I am. I think the folks who are disagreeing, and taking the anti-Flanagan stance, are generally responding to a perceived argument that teaching kids to garden is a bad idea. That's not Flanagan's point: her point is that the Waters-created curriculum has basically taken over a significant proportion of California schools, to absolutely no measurable effect in terms of improved testing and graduation rates. If you dig past some of Flanagan's more intentionally incendiary bits (the ludicrous opening paragraph, the Jim Crow analogy), there's some good truth-to-power happening here.
If you want the short version (girlfriend is long-winded), I pretty much summarized it for my day job.
A few days ago I read a post put up by one of my absolute favorite food people, the marvy Carol Blymire of Alinea at Home, about how she suddenly hated food. This bout of loathing was brought on by a series of kitchen misfires: a powder failed to be powdery, a delicious-sounding recipe came out tasting awful, myriad petty culinary mistakes all conspired against her, which is kind of a thing, because Carol is an amazing cook, and for that much stuff to go wrong clearly there is something, as the kids say, afoot.
And I was like "aw," and "heh," and sympathetic if not entirely empathetic, but then this evening happened and you guys I am SUFFUSED WITH EMPATHY because the last four hours have been the most culinarily depressing perhaps OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. And, you know, I am not really such a shoddy cook. I'm in fact pretty darn good. OR AM I?
• A simple dinner of ground turkey and marinara over pasta went horrifically awry: the turkey somehow steamed in the skillet, I accidentally added garam masala instead of cinnamon to the sauce, resulting in a weird Indo-dessert-y situation that I misguidedly tried to remedy with capers in brine, which was REPULSIVE. Like, gag-inducingly so.
• So I threw away the meat sauce and sauteed some garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil, meanwhile the pasta overcooked and became gross and gummy, and while tending to the pasta the garlic overcooked and became rancid, but by then we were dying of hunger so we ate it anyway. BUT THEN the parmesan came off the microplane in clumps instead of the usual snowy shavings, and that was also gross.
• So I put all that behind me and turned to the cupcakes I was making for my boss's birthday tomorrow. Eggs, butter, flour, sugar, milk, vanilla. Batter was delicious. Poured into cups. Popped into the oven. 16 minutes, perfectly browned, out to cool. And once they were cool Mr. B and I tore into a sample one to find a sticky sponge that was full of holes and wouldn't detach from the paper and tasted like scrambled eggs.
• ...And which couldn't be masked by the chocolate buttercream, which I make so often and with such consistent success that SERIOUSLY I COULD MAKE IT IN MY SLEEP, except that for some unknown reason the sifted powdered sugar was grainy and crunchy and you know, that didn't even matter, because instead of using cocoa powder I accidentally used mocha powder and the result tasted like a burnt cup of coffee.
AND THIS HAS ALL BEEN SINCE 7 PM.
So anyway all of this would be fine and I would give up completely, and resign myself to a temporary exile to a land of Chinese takeout and Lean Cuisine, were it not for the fact that, oh, of course, I'm throwing this ludicrous dinner party this weekend for which I am, of course, cooking effing everything. GOD HELP US ALL.
The UK Guardian's books blog (my favorite blog on the internet? maybe!) turns its attention to the curious habit of author-bio pages to read like a litany of wacky employment:
Writers and readers alike remain fascinated, and a little bit in love, with the idea of the novelist as a sort of picaresque hero who struggles against all odds – once signified by a garret, now more likely to be illustrated by a string of character-building jobs – in order to make ends meet in the course of the journey to resolution and redemption in the form of publication. For those aspirant writers who are stuck working in jobs that are far from dreamy, I suppose it's encouraging to think that they, too, might rise above their current lot.I remember reading an author bio when I was very young (pretty sure it was Louis Sachar's) and being stunned by how many jobs he'd had. I vowed that I, too, would have at least a dozen totally weird, awesome jobs to which I would bring dignity and joie de vivre and wisdom.
And then I grew up and became a blogger, which is a job that requires none of those three qualities, and in fact actively cultivates their opposites.
Were it not for the fact that I have absolutely no idea where the closest Taco Bells are located vis a vis my home and office, and I don't have a spare hundo to drop on Wii Fit, I would totally take the advice of 96% of the commercials airing during yesterday's Law & Order: SVU marathon on USA and attempt to lose weight in the new year by doing nothing but eating tacos and playing video games.
posted by Helen at 15:22
Today I taught myself how to fake tilt-shift in Photoshop! Other things I have done on my vacation: start and defeat New Super Mario Bros. Wii, bike in the snow, wear red lipstick three days in a row. Productive!
posted by Helen at 01:44