Thursday, April 21, 2011

Random Bites: Women Who Wowed Me

The past couple of weeks, several women have held me spellbound with their words and their recipes. I've made no secret of being inspired by great women throughout my life. I'm adding a few more to an ever-growing list now:

I've been a longtime fan of the TV comedy institution Saturday Night Live. One day, I'll write a post regarding that show but this blurb is dedicated to one of the more recent highlights of SNL by the name of Tina Fey. She was the first female head writer on notoriously male-dominated SNL and would go on to create and star in current laughfest 30 Rock. Fey released her first book a couple of weeks ago and its a complete hoot. From the title (Bossypants) to the cover (lovely Tina with meaty, hairy arms) to the quotes on the back cover ("Totally worth it" say Trees); I was already chuckling. Barely into the book; I found myself cackling out loud and quickly determined that I couldn't read this in public. Hilariously honest insights into her life abound and the first passage that caught me was about a gynecological appointment gone awry. If I had any complaint about the book, its that I wish there would've have been a bit more about the backstage antics at SNL, but that's a minor beef. Speaking of beef, Fey also mentions her complete inability to cook meat correctly. Bossypants is most assuredly one of the funniest books I've ever read.

Another recent read of an entirely different sort is Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones And Butter. I'd read the great reviews for the book and when Anthony Bourdain says that its the best memoir by a chef ever, that's enough for me. Hamilton is a well-known NYC chef and while her culinary skills may be extraordinary, her writing skills are a wonder to behold. This book is not just the latest chefography, its a beautifully written memoir that magically and effortlessly weaves a tale so gripping and moving that I was truly riveted throughout. Blood, Bones and Butter should be read by anyone who appreciates evocative writing, not just we folks with a foodie bent. The food descriptions receive no short shrift, to be sure, but this book is so much more. Read it. Please.

Finally, two more women who rocked my world this week were also no slouch with words but really grabbed me with their recipe. Tamara Reynolds and Zora O'Neill wrote a cookbook called Forking Fantastic and its the first cookbook I've ever read cover to cover. These women not only have created recipes that are so easy to follow, they do it with an irreverent wit that completely speaks to the smart-ass in me. Reynolds and O'Neill are known for their underground dinner parties in NYC and this book is an terrific read for its tips on entertaining as well as cooking. I made their Fettuccine With Caramelized Onions and Yogurt recently and it was quite the revelation. Using Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream along with caramelized onions and bacon, it was quite the flavorful treat. Keith is a mega-fan of traditional Fettuccine Alfredo and we both were a tad dubious about the outcome. The flavors of the onions and bacon mixed with the yogurt and fresh Parmesan were crazy good. I can't wait to tackle more of these recipes. Speaking of the recipe (which counts as Cookbook Challenge #49), I'm not reprinting it, because that's how badly I want you to buy this cookbook. I only wish I could experience their dinner parties.

Four women who wove their spell with words and food this, THAT'S a good thing.


Lisa Mandina said...

I do want to read the Tina Fey book.

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