Let’s get the biggest thing out of the way right off the bat: This project began in jest, as a way to make fun of Gwyneth Paltrow. I’ll admit it. The Royal Tenenbaums aside, I’ve never been a fan of Ms. Paltrow, and it’s only gotten worse over the years, as she has become more and more ubiquitous. I’ve signed up for her GOOP newsletters, and I cringe with pleasure at their complete lack of self-awareness.
Upon hearing she was releasing a cookbook, my eyes lit up. Surely this was going to be a treasure trove of delusion, with “everyday recipes for working mothers” that cost over $1,000 and five hours to make. I knew immediately I had to go Julie/Julia on the thing.
Yesterday, I finally got my hands on an actual, physical copy of the book. The first pages were exactly what I expected: masturbatory references to “the Spielbergs” and “a young Leonardo DiCaprio” and teenage summers in Spain and her strangely named babies’ love of gluten-free food. Just classic Gwyneth stuff right there.
But then I flipped through the recipes, and I started to think, “Uh oh, some of these look delicious.”
So now my world is topsy-turvy. Who knows where this journey will take me? Perhaps in nine months, I’ll have new-found respect for Gwyneth Paltrow, and will throw ornate dinner parties in a rustic courtyard for my linen-clad friends and business associates. Perhaps I, too, will begin a “strict macrobiotic chapter of my life.” I can’t wait to see where my adventure with Gwyneth will lead.
In this spirit, I pledge to try my absolute best to keep an open mind about Gwyneth throughout this project. I’ll call her out when she asks for it (and, oh, just wait until you see how she asks for it), but I’m genuinely excited to try some of these recipes, and when they’re good, I’ll give her all the credit.
And to those who want to point out that her book is aimed for mothers who want to make quick, easy meals to share with their children, not for someone like me? Well, all I have to say is, being a white, middle-class, single, early-20’s male, I probably know as much about being a “working mother” as Gwyneth. (And it’s those kinds of cheap shots that I promise to try my hardest to stop in the future. Honestly!)
Anyway, here are the rules as I’ve laid them out (subject to change without warning or, for that matter, consequence):
- I must complete every recipe in “My Father’s Daughter” within nine months from the starting point. (Julie Powell, of course, did “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year, and she had over 500 recipes to complete. I have a mere 150, some of which contain only two ingredients. But I’m lazy, so I’m giving myself a more leisurely pace, at one recipe every two days. Plus, nine months is such a concise, motherly period of time, of which I think Gwynnie would approve.)
- Recipes do not have to be completed in order. Otherwise I will be eating straight-up vegetable and chicken stock for the first week.
- I must strive to stay as close to the original recipe as possible. Forgoing imported Spanish olive oil with flakes of gold in it will be allowed, but only after I put in a respectable effort to purloin said olive oil with flakes of gold. (Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge, Gwyneth does not include any recipes that call for olive oil with flakes of gold. Yet.) However, cheaply and lazily buying Safeway-brand bacon in lieu of ordering D’Artagnan duck bacon (it’s “out of this world,” as Gwyneth says) will not be allowed.
And that’s it! Let’s see how long it takes for me to go bankrupt!