I absolutely hate mushrooms.
I know! I know! You probably love them, and are deeply offended that I’d say something so atrocious. You probably can’t understand how I claim to be a foodie at all, being so stupid as to think behavior like hating mushrooms is acceptable.
Well, I do. I hate them. I dislike their flavor and, most especially, their texture. I don’t mind the way they smell raw, but cooked they’re the most unappealing thing my palate has encountered. I just can’t get past it; I just hate mushrooms.
Why is this a problem?, you ask. Well, I’ll tell you. My hatred of mushrooms is an inner conflict causing unspeakable turmoil because with all the passion and fervor and conviction that I hate mushrooms, I also adore Nora Ephron. And if she found out I hate mushrooms, I fear that would be the end of what would otherwise blossom into a beautiful lifelong friendship.
All kidding aside, Nora Ephron’s writing has easily had the most profound affect on my development as a writer. (Incidentally, her writing is also why I’ve had to explain to James on more than one occasion why it’s acceptable for me to pause in front of a mirror and gaze lovingly at my 23-year-old neck.) Apart from articulating and lending honest personification to what it means to come of age as a woman, she’s a riot, and her perspective on life is as refreshing as it is grounding, and let’s be honest, even if you’re not “into” reading essays on how awful purses are or how anxious you’d be making dinner for a chef, even if you don’t care about Harry or Sally or whether the people in Seattle ever slept, you could use a good laugh. And Nora doles those out, no matter what the topic. One of her book jackets boasts my favorite literary review clip of all time: “Nora Ephron can write about anything better than anybody else can write about anything.” Courtesy of the New York Times. Not that they know good writing.
If I could grow up to be anybody, it would be an amalgam of my mother, Ruth Reichl and Nora Ephron. (So I’d still look like me, only with the ability to throw a killer dinner party.) When I get stuck writing, I ask myself what Nora would do. Then I wander into the kitchen for a snack. And when I found out that Nora had written Julie & Julia, I almost died. Of happiness, mind you, but I’d have been dead all the same.
Every time I see the trailer (despite its somewhat leery reviews), I yearn a bit in my heart to go out, buy Julia’s cook book and go from cover to cover, making every recipe, too. I would also blog about it, but I’d grow as a person, and whine less, and not alienate James and generally avoid all the things I’ve heard Julie Powell did. I would not read her book, unless Nora called me up and told me specifically that it was the only way for which I could redeem myself in her eyes for hating mushrooms so thoroughly. And then I would read the book and invite Nora out for Coke Zero (which I do not drink) and salad (which I do enjoy, as long as it’s void of mushrooms). Or cherries. I’d invite her out for Coke Zero and cherries.
This brings us to the next set of problems, though. 1. My stove does not know how to cook. Even when I do things like horribly botch brine recipes and marinate chicken in salt water for 12 hours instead of 1 hour, the bird comes out moist and delicious, making James happy in the form of chicken tacos. Except, the oven doesn’t heat properly, so half of it is more done than the other half (and I’ve been cautioned about white meat cooking different than dark meat, so I know that I should panic, according to the cook book). I have to rotate it, and then cook it more, without risking overcooking the already cooked half. The cats try to get into the stove. All hell breaks loose. I swear I’ll never cook again. I curse, and chase the cats into the bathroom, and angrily carve the chicken (after letting it rest for ten minutes, mind you). I sulk a bit, and pout, and then an image in the cook book catches my eye and I start scheming about how I can turn the chicken into something savory that invovles a crepe. I am hopeless with sticking to conviction when it comes to giving up a passion.
But the second issue! 2. I hate mushrooms. And to cook French cuisine, you need to be pretty evenly unaverse to fungus in all its supposedly delicious forms. Even if my oven didn’t plot to ruin everything I put into it, my loathesome sentiments toward mushrooms makes me entirely impossible as an aspiring French chef.
… Who am I kidding? All I care to learn to make now, anyway, are baguettes. Bread with fatty, salty butter… Mm. It’s what mine and Nora’s dreams are made of. But alas! I hate mushrooms.
I also dislike the idea of re-forging the wheel of another woman’s transport to fame. So, 3. I don’t want to do what the supposedly-whiney, non-revolutionary, uninteresting young woman from Queens did. Because I’m certain I could do it better. Well, because I’m certain I could do it better if my oven worked and I didn’t hate mushrooms so much.
Regardless, I’m adding “Have lunch with Nora Eprhon.” to my life list. Because at the very least, what I’ve learned in doing my preliminary research on the film Julie & Julia, it’s that I truly do love Nora Ephron and her writing equally as much as I hate mushrooms.
Perhaps more. I’ll let you know down the line, after lunch. Until then, Elephant and I are going to lounge and read more Ephron Essays. It’s what we do best on warm nights.