Tag Archives: journalism

Damy Ephron: My Aspirational Future Self

In coming up with a tweet about my excitement over new books from Amy Sedaris, David Sedaris and Nora Ephron, I realized something about myself: I want to be them. As in, all three in one writer. A Damy Ephron, if you will. (Is that the stupidest thing I’ve ever said?)

Amy is so quirky and fun. I would love to have her confidence and to wear elaborate stage costumes on late-night TV shows and to fabricate a longshoreman boyfriend while seriously discussing my pet rabbits. (Except I don’t think I actually want a pet rabbit. I have more cat than I know what to do with thanks to the Evil Genius and his Dopey Sidekick.) And she’s crafty! (Obvs.) I should craft more. In fact, I’m going to make a bold statement: Crafting may become the new baking in my life.

David, on the other hand, is such a successful storyteller! I saw, “successful,” rather than, “good,” even though I think many of his stories *are* good in part because a one-time mentor said he thought the male Sedaris makes things up because his stories come together so nicely. And, no matter how wacky your life and/or your family’s, eventually you could totes pump the well dry and realize you have nothing left to write. Not so with David – he continues to come out with material. And they’re usually such entertaining reads! And he’s made such a nice career for himself after floundering around and failing horribly at life! I would like to do the same thing.

I had a J-school professor who once said I reminded him of a young Nora Ephron. HUGE ego boost. Nora tells David-Sedaris-esque tales, but she’s more lady-centric (natch) and that’s basically what I want to do. (No offense, fellas. I just don’t think we relate as well…) But Nora skews a little old – i.e., I don’t feel bad about my neck…yet…so I’d like to keep David’s youthful exuberance. And, you know, I certainly wouldn’t mind writing a screenplay with sharp lines that perhaps becomes emblematic of an entire decade and resonates with countless generations to come. But I’d settle for a short story collection.

It’s not easy though. I responded to an MSNBC query on HARO this afternoon (before the Olbermann brouhaha) entitled “Jobless and Hopeless.” Things could be worse, sure…but it’s kind of true. However, I *am* enjoying not having to come up with fodder for the super-effusive lady-blog (that will later be edited to sound like I’m a student at Sweet Valley High) and therefore having time to populate this little site.

PS: I wish I had Photoshop or something and could combine their three faces together to show you what I’m going to look like.

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My Journalism Career, Which Never Properly Got Off the Ground and Could Not Provide Health Insurance, Dies at 8

I am feeling particularly dramatic. So it’s time for an obit:

I’ve never been in a situation like this before — I’ve never encountered a problem I could not tackle with enough elbow grease. No matter what challenge I’ve faced — be it AP Calculus or playing high school basketball or moving to another country by myself — I’ve always been able to grit my teeth and emerge successful from sheer determination to not fall on my face. (Granted, “success” is a relative term. Take basketball, for example. But, even then, I think I humiliated myself substantially less my sophomore year — even actually scoring once and knocking down nine rebounds in a single game…even if it was against the Mississippi School for the Deaf…)

But getting a job after J-school (…and internships at Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart Living and sort of the Huffington Post…) has been nothing like that. I have failed. Repeatedly. And it continues to this day with no end in sight.

And, sure, I’ve been the recipient of plenty of concerned, “Don’t give up!”-emails from friends and family who have listened to my belly-aching for 26 months…but, at a certain point, the issue of putting one out of one’s misery must be raised, no?

I mean, sure, it’s an inspirational story to hear of the one-armed girl who dreams of knitting sweaters…and, heck, if that’s what she wants to do, she should go for it. But, at a certain point, if she can’t knit sweaters, is it really civil/kosher/advisable to let her go on struggling indefinitely? And at some point maybe we need to accept that it’s best she put down her knitting needles because it simply isn’t her lot in life to knit.

As callous as this analogy may seem, I made a list of my own one-armed endeavors. And I determined that at least 90 publications have said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” to me since May 2008.

To put that into perspective, that’s rejection an average of 3.5 times per month — or basically once a week — for over two years. And my poor little ego can’t take it anymore.

But…what now? Is writing/reporting in fact my sweater-knitting? (And because I’m feeling particularly sorry for myself after another stupid rejection, I can envision editors from Christmas Past unanimously exclaiming, “Yes!”)

So…where does that leave me?

Teach for America? I like kids, but…doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of room at the inn these days.

Mail order bride? I’ve been reading Stieg Larsson novels lately, but perhaps it’s worth the risk?

The military?

Fast food?

Retail management, like Frank on the Bachelorette who is about to announce he cheated and make Ali sad in paradise and drive her even further into Roberto or Chris L.’s arms?

Moving in to my parents’ casita and waiting for my maker to call me home? (Which maybe wouldn’t be such a bad thing, right, Gothamist?)

I don’t have an answer. But I’ll say this: Unlike Herb on the Next Food Network Star who battled his demons and was able to tell the judges two episodes ago that he thinks he is successful, I feel like a huge failure. And I’m going to be 30. And what do I have to show for it? Two degrees and a whole lotta debt? And a list of 90 publications that don’t want to hire me?

The list is by no means comprehensive — my computer crashed last year and I could have very well lost a number of Word documents. I’ve also applied for positions at some publications numerous times. But…I think it illustrates fairly well the effort I have put into acquiring gainful employment…and the inevitable letdown that has resulted after being rejected so many times. (I gave a pass to those companies that have declined to hire me but have graciously allowed me to freelance for a living wage…)

Here she blows:

AMNewYork

AOL

Aspen Magazine

Associated Press

Baltimore Sun

Beauty Blitz

BoardIQ

Bloomberg

Bloomingdales

Blush Media

BonAppetit.com

Buddy Media

CBS Interactive

Chicago Tribune

Conde Nast Traveler

D Magazine

Daily Candy

Deal News

Delish.com

Dow Jones

Economist.com

Episcopal Life

Equinox

Family Circle

Fast Company

FundFire

Field and Stream

Flavorpill

Food and Wine

FoodandWine.com

Food Network

FreshDirect

FundFire

Gael Greene

Gary Rivlin

Gawker

Good Housekeeping

Gourmet

Grub Street

Hachette Filpacchi Media

Huffington Post

Ignites

iVillage

Kiboo

Ladies’ Home Journal

Light the Night

Macy’s

MainStreet.com

Marie Claire

Martha Stewart Living

Mashable

Mediabistro

Metro New York

Mets

Miami Herald

Minyanville Media

More

MTV

NBC

New York Daily News

New York Post

New York Times

Nibble

Outdoor Life

Oyster Hotel Reviews

OZOLife

Parents

PastryScoop.com

Popular Science

Rachael Ray

Ralph Lauren

RD.com

ReadyMade

RealSimple.com

Refinery29

Reuters

Saveur

Seattle Times

SeedMagazine.com

Seeking Alpha

SF Weekly

Shape

Shecky’s

Southern Breeze

Star Chefs

Tan Sheet

Tango Mag

Teen Vogue

The Knot

Time

TimeOut New York

Times Picayune

TMG

TravelandLeisure.com

Tyra Show

UrbanDaddy

USA Today

Village Voice

Waterfront Media

Weight Watchers

Woman’s World

WomansDay.com

wowOwow

Yelp

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Filed under blogs, Food Network, Martha, Mississippi

An Old Bar, A Misinterpreted Sign & Food That Makes Me Verklempt

I met The Bartender at the beginning of the year. And he was funny. And sweet. And he worked around the corner from my apartment — at the oldest bar in Brooklyn! — and so I started spending a lot of time there. And soon I found that he was also incredibly smart…and completely genuine. And before long, I adored him.

Thus began months of what was sometimes great and sometimes terrible…and always uncertain. No one believed it would work out — we had nothing in common…except maybe our childhoods. But I continued to believe that maybe he was the Steve to my Miranda (and I sort of cringe at applying a S&tC analogy, but it’s really the most apt comparison…)…because we were so good together…(when, you know, we actually were together). (And, hey — Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat sang about basically the same thing.)

But then he’d disappear on me…and I’d be sad…and I’d call virtually everyone I know and sniffle about how I’d never love again or I’d send marathon emails that generated standard girl responses like, “He doesn’t deserve you!” and I’d try to start to figure out how I was going to get all of this out of my system. And then he’d pop up again and I’d be so, so happy…because, despite all the loosey-goosiness, I was happier with him than I’ve been in a long time…and I honestly thought we had something — *especially* when it turned out that one my best friends was the reporter for the Spanish language newspaper who interviewed him for a story about a crime in his neighborhood on her first day on the beat. The odds were infinitesimal! It *had* to be a sign! (Not unlike my very first date with the Englishman I almost married…when he was trying to come up with conversation and mentioned that he’d seen a movie  on TV over the weekend that was set in America. As he described it, I said, “Oh my gosh! A Time to Kill? They filmed that when I lived in Mississippi!” Of all the movies in the world, it was *that* one. I felt like it couldn’t *not* be the universe telling me to pay attention. And pay attention I did…and, two years later, I almost married the guy.)

But, in the end, I guess it wasn’t a sign with The Bartender. He made one final, brief return…only to disappear for good.  And now it’s hard to walk by the oldest bar in Brooklyn and know he’s right there…and it doesn’t matter.

I can’t not think about him every time I hear something about the Jets. (Lord, give me strength as football season starts…) And, whoa-ho, I will associate him with the Rangers for the rest of my life — there’s just no way around that. And I don’t really care about hockey all that much (which maybe is a sign that we *weren’t* meant to be…), so part of me was tempted to become a huge Giants fan (a giant Giants fan?) out of football spite, but…1) I don’t feel all that spiteful about The Bartender; and 2) Mark Sanchez is such a cutie! (Even though he went to USC…)

There are a lot of things I miss about The Bartender. (I actually had a dream last night that he came back…so I woke up this morning more wistful than usual…) And, yes, this is supposed to be a food-ish blog…so, dear reader, I give you some of the more culinary things I miss about him:

I can’t start with anything other than the lemon sorbet…which still sits in my freezer…and makes me think about him every time I open the door. The man actually loves his sherbet…but I couldn’t remember which one was his favorite when I popped into the bodega after a long day of playing baccarat…and the only sherbet available there had some sort of ripple in it…which seemed weird…so I opted for zesty lemon sorbet instead. And he was such a good sport about eating the sorbet even though it was the wrong one. (And…a bright side, I guess: I was actually able to eat some of it the other night without becoming a huge, sloppy mess…so maybe I’ll finally be rid of it before too long.)

That same night, I also got carded when I tried to buy him Coors Light — his beer of choice when he was poor. (When he had a little extra money to throw around, he liked Harpoon IPA or Brooklyn Lager. And…the only beer I really liked at *his* bar was Blue Moon. I can’t even tell you how many Blue Moons I had on his dime.)

I think of him whenever I order food from SeamlessWeb. We ordered food from there so many times — especially when he was hurt and wasn’t super-mobile. Plus, he was SO excited when he realized he could order food from there when he was at home, too, and his takeout options expanded exponentially.

There’s also the Thai place on Smith Street where we had our first official date…after hanging out at the oldest bar in Brooklyn for SO LONG. And he really surprised me — he was a pretty adventurous eater…which I wasn’t expecting as he was SO, SO conservative in real life that I assumed, like my father, he’d be all about meat and potatoes. Yet the man loved Thai food. And sushi. And was willing to try almost anything.

But…don’t get me wrong — he still liked meat. He was preparing to leave my apartment one Sunday afternoon to get home in time to hit up the grocery store when he said, “Boy am I tired of rice and beans. That’s all I can really afford now…so that’s all I’ve been eating for weeks.” So…I said, “You know I can cook, right?” and he said, “You’d cook for me?” to which I enthusiastically replied, “Of course I’d cook for you!”

What did he want? Meat. So…since he had just recently told me how much he liked lamb chops, I said, “Do you want me to make you lamb chops?” but he wouldn’t let me do that because he said they were too expensive…and then he remembered the Conan O’Brien Irish Beef Stew Recipe Scandal and said, “Maybe stew?”

I agreed…but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed weird to make stew in the spring — it’s a fall/winter comfort food! I wanted something more appropriate for a season of sunshine and rebirth…so I asked around. Flank steak seemed to be a big favorite…and then a friend told me that she had been at a dinner party recently with an Asian-style flank steak…and I recalled that my mother used to make an Asian-style flank steak that I liked a lot. My mom served it with rice though…and I couldn’t serve the poor man rice again, so I had to find a different side dish…and I was throwing around ideas like cucumbers with wasabi and rice vinegar

All week, I was sending him messages that went unresponded…but it wasn’t unusual for him not to write me back right away. “How do you feel about Asian-style flank steak? Will you eat that? Or is it too weird?” “If I marinate it, will you BBQ it? I am scared of BBQing.” Etc. And…as I was filling in for my old job that week, I had tentatively planned my grocery runs in between filing stories. I knew wasabi powder was going to be a long-shot at my everyday grocery store…but I figured I’d give Trader Joe’s a shot. And, bar that, I was pretty sure there was a spot on Atlantic Avenue with spices that would do the trick. And…as I planned out all of these intricate details and got more and more excited about Saturday night, I got a single message from him: “I think I’m going down to the Shore this weekend. Sorry.”

And then he disappeared for awhile. Not such a happy memory of him.

I *do* have a happy memory of his 30th birthday…which is one of the times he reappeared again. We’d gotten into a big fight about a week before…and then he hurt his foot at work…and I got a message saying he was in the emergency room…and that was it. All of my Mother Hen instincts kicked in, but there was nothing I could do. And I love birthdays! And this was such a big one! I wanted to do all sorts of crazy big things to celebrate and show him how much I cared about him. But, since he was gone, I figured I had to make plans to get far away from my apartment, or I’d spend the whole day holed up and sad about it. One of my classmates was having an annual bonanza at a farm upstate, so I decided to rent a car and make a key lime cheesecake to escape the city for a bit (with the very same Spanish language newspaper reporter who would later interview the Birthday Boy). But, alas, there was a snafu at the rental car place and the alternate route was too complicated…so I ended up staying home with the cheesecake. And then — lo and behold — he showed up on my doorstep. And I got to celebrate his 30th birthday with him after all…and I was so happy to see him again…although it was kind of morbidly ironic because he had been freaked out about turning 30 and getting old…and he needed a cane to walk with his busted foot. And then I offered to turn the Farm Cheesecake into Birthday Cheesecake…and he confessed the only cheesecake he ever liked is the one his mom makes…and I got really nervous…but, as luck would have it, he freaked out about mine. And I think he had a really good birthday.

I also think of him when I think of $2 kids’ hot dogs at Citizens Bank Park and my “Keep Drinking Until You Look Like John McCain Or Feel Like Cindy”-cup…and, of course, Coffee Talk. He did a Linda Richman impression that slayed me.

So…Mike Myers is no Bartender, but…indulge me in one last nod: Coffee Talk with Linda Richman.

Now talk amongst yourselves.

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Filed under baseball, birthdays, Brooklyn, cheesecake, football, hot dogs, ice cream, Mississippi, Palin, UCLA

What do Hawaiian Tropic Zone and Switzerland Have in Common?

I’ve always associated Hawaiian Tropic Zone with bikinis and sexual harassment. (I was hoping to find a good story in the Post to prove my point, but instead of harassment per se, I pulled up this gem [still good, I think]: Uh, Ho! ‘Tropic Thunder’ War Over Nixed Bikini Gal. Also — journalists — I challenge you to craft a better lede: “Ho no, he didn’t!”)

So…I certainly never thought I’d actually dine at this establishment. And yet that is exactly what happened last week. I had to get out of my apartment (more on that later), but I also figured I shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to see what this place is actually like. Plus, my friend E said they have “totally amazing and yummy pupu platters” and that since it’s the 50th anniversary of Hawaii, there was supposed to be some stuff going on in Times Square. And, you know, I lived in Alaska for a year. I’m down with the non-contiguous states…

So. Hawaiian Tropic Zone, ho. (Yes, that was intentional. Blame the Post.)

Before you are seated, you have to show a bikini-clad hostess your ID to get a purple wristband that says, “HTZ” and proves you are of legal age. Then, another lady in a bikini shows you to your table and yet *another* woman in a bikini asks for your drink order. E was excited about a specific brand of tequila — or maybe rum? But I think it was tequila… — and there was some sort of mojito spinoff that she wanted. Our other companions ordered beer…but beer sort of felt, you know, boring. I couldn’t decide among the $12 cocktails, however…so I took the easy way out and mimicked my friend and ordered the special tequila mojito spinoff.

And…since she said it would be plenty of food for us, we ordered the pupu platter (yes, yes…I know)…and it came out with an open flame in the middle over which you could further grill your kebabs. That was one thing that surprised me — there was a lot more food on sticks than I expected. (Although I guess maybe that’s par for the course with a pupu platter?) And it really wasn’t as gaudy as I had hoped/feared. There *was* a bikini pageant in the middle of our meal in which the waitresses announced their names and hometowns and paraded by one by one…so that was definitely a first…and maybe kind of cringe-worthy. But, overall, the whole thing wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I’m not sure if I’ll race back there again anytime soon…but, overall, I guess I left feeling neutral.

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Filed under Alaska, food on a stick

Pie News: Happy Birthday Gloria, God Save the Papers, Boom Goes the Mountain, Hello Space People & Bye Bye Denise.

In Pie News today…

Happy birthday, Gloria Steinem! I wish there was some sort of fish- or bicycle-themed pie…but, sadly a search for “bicycle pie” turns up this. “Fish pie” is a little more helpful: We get Jamie Oliver‘s Fantastic Fish Pie. But if I was Gloria, I’d want something a little sweeter to celebrate my 75th. So…this is where it maybe gets a little mawkish, but I’d say she’s a pretty strong lady, so I’d recommend Apple and Dried Apricot Pie. Haedrich says dried apricots have a strong flavor that can dominate the apples…but you can tinker with it by poaching the apricots in apple juice. However, should you *like* strong apricots, you can up the ante and poach ’em in apricot juice. The world’s your oyster!

And…as a quote-unquote journalist, I can’t not acknowledge Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin introducing a bill that would allow newspapers to restructure themselves as nonprofits that would earn tax breaks. So…how about baking a pie from his home state — the Catoctin Mountain Apricot-Blueberry Pie? I have read that in the western part of the state, there is plenty of farmland and lots of orchards where you can pick up fruits for this pie..when you’re not reading the Baltimore Sun, that is.

And…waaay up north we have Alaska’s Mount Redoubt erupting (and then quieting down a bit). If you’re stuck inside (or just watching from afar), I’d go for the Mocha Turtle Baked Alaska Pie. Sure, the Alaska part is obvious…but there’s ice cream in it — because it’s so cold there for so much of the year! — and ALSO one of my favorite Alaskan restaurants is Fox, Alaska’s Turtle Club.

Back here in the Lower 48, we have Obama and Washington-area middle school students talking to astronauts. If they could shoot a pie into space, I’d recommend a Lemon Chiffon Pie. Not only is it light and fluffy, but it’s totally reminscent of Tang.

Finally, there’s poor Denise Richards. Not only did she not produce Charlie Sheen’s male heirs, but she was voted off Dancing with the Stars in only the second week (*and* before Woz). To lift her spirits, I say Denise roll up her sleeves and make Rice Krispies Marshmallow Mud Meringue Pies with her kids. The book says this recipe is kid-friendly as it does not have a traditional pie crust…but Ms. Richards should note she needs to be careful and supervise the browning of the meringue.

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Filed under Alaska, blueberries, feminism, fish, ice cream

Meat Blogging, Mickey Rourke & a Journalism-Teaching Doppelganger

So…as I’m sure my faithful readers are aware, I’m still a freelancer…which is really just a fancy way of saying I’m a deadbeat who is not sure how I’ll pay my rent each month. So far, I’ve gotten lucky…but I am particularly nervous about April. I have a check coming in at the end of February…and then? It’s the same “Will I be able to pay my bills?”-game I’ve been playing since August. It’s enough to give a girl gray hair and an ulcer.

But I digress. An opportunity has come up for me to write for a meat blog — unpaid, as these things tend to be — and yet I still hold out hope that perhaps *this* will be the project that gets me the attention of someone with hiring powers, etc., etc. and then I will forever thank this person for inadvertently becoming the missing link (!) in my tediously long job quest.

A bit about the blog: it’s a parody of PETA called MEATA (“Men Eat All Things Animal”) and I can blog about “all things meat.” My MEATA connection said he is positioning himself as a “bacon specialist.” So…it could be an opportunity for me to flex my writing muscles in new and exciting ways. I’m not sure what meat I’d pick (if I had to) and I was worried a little that the vegans would be upset and I would never blog for HuffPo again…but then the editor — in a Glinda-the- Good-Witch moment (“you’ve had the power all along”) — said that I have log-in deets and can use them anytime. So. Huffington Post readers, your wait is almost over.

MEATA, however, I’m still pondering. My mom just made her own pastrami, so that’s obviously a possibility. And the winning recipe at the Simply Manischewitz Cook-Off had turkey in it, so it’s also an option.

My favorite kind of blogging is me cooking/baking and writing about the experience. As I said to my MEATA connection, the punchlines generally write themselves that way. So this whole post is really to tell you not to worry about me — I have options. I’m going to be fine.

In the meantime, I finally saw one of the Oscar-nominated movies — The Wrestler. In real life, I think Mickey Rourke looks kind of like Dale Maharidge, one of my favorite professors at Columbia’s J-School. Thankfully, though, The Ram did not look like Dale in the film…

And for those of you confused as to why I would bring up Mr. Rourke and his journalism-teaching doppelganger in a post about blogging and meat, I will enlighten you. There was a line in the film from the pervy store manager when The Ram was considering a job at the deli counter: “There will be lots of hot, horny housewives begging you for your meat.”

(And now I think of all the people who will Google terms in that quote, looking for Web sites of an entirely different kind and will perhaps see the name “Tasty Lacy” for a moment and think they’re on to something good.)

PS: I finally learned how to say “charcuterie.”

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Filed under entrees, vegan

Lessons From Julia

Sometimes I have ADD with books and I start them, but if they don’t suck me in wholly and completely right away, I get about halfway through and never finish. I have a number of these books lying around my apartment. And…since I am in the midst of “looking for my next job opportunity” and have been going a bit stir-crazy, a friend suggested I do things I wouldn’t normally have time to do. So…I’ve been watching Destinos obsessively (although I am still a bit reluctant to actually practicar espanol con mi amiga mejor porque es de Colombia y tengo miedo que voy a decir cosas tontas)…and reading said books…including — I know, I know… — Marley & Me, which my mother gave me about a million years ago…and which I am sure the literati would ridicule me for reading. But! I thought it was sweet…and a good example of a journo writing what he knows (and getting a handsome payday — if only we could all be so lucky)…and it struck a certain chord…which I’m not sure it would have done a year ago because I still had Fatty.

But…the *other* book — and the whole reason for this entry, mind you — is Julia Child‘s My Life in France. I stopped reading at some point during her initial time in France and never got around to reading the end. (Then I got a kitten who mercilessly attacked the spine of the poor book and now it is very sad-looking, indeed.)

I was struck by a lot of things Julia said (including, “Balls!” Who knew Julia Child said, “Balls!” when she was mad?).

In my initial read-through my favorite part was that she never apologized for anything when she first started cooking — even when the food was bad. She said it wasn’t fair to the people who came over and who had to *eat* the bad food because then not only did they have to choke it down, but they would *also* have to make her feel better about herself…and that really wasn’t fair. (Which…wow! I apologize for everything! So much so that the friend who offered advice about what to do with all my free time told me that I cannot apologize for ANYTHING on Pie Day…and every time I *do* say, “I’m sorry,” I have to buy her a book. [She’s an avid reader.])

My favorite part in the *second* half of My Life in France was when she talked about first taping her TV show. She said that they couldn’t do it live, but she still liked to tape it all in one fell swoop because she always sort of got into a rhythm and, this:

“One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.”

Things *always* go awry with me! So…I find it totally comforting that things went awry with Julia, too. And maybe I can chalk up all my baking crises to a  learning curve…and I’m really en route to becoming something. Maybe?

In anticipation of finishing My Life in France, I got the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking…but now I feel like I *have* to have the second volume (though it’s hard to find!) as well as From Julia Child’s Kitchen. Which is one more reason I need a bloody job. (Balls?)

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Filed under books