Here is my current dilemma: an editor has approached me about publishing a second edition of my book, How to Recognize Your Future Ex-Husband.
The book's 2011 release coincided with the busiest time of the year for me in my other professional life, where I own and manage a busy communications company. I have a lot of anxiety about this, and when I feel anxious, all I can think about is cooking, not writing. Anyway, the editor would like me to write another 10,000 words. This isn't an unreasonable request, but for some reason, I'm having trouble sinking in and hearing the voice -- the one that steadily spoke to me as I churned out each section month after month. That voice was with me for a very long time -- until now.
Perhaps that voice is being obscured by the clanging of pots and pans and other assorted sounds emanating from my orchestra of appliances. Frankly, any excuse to use my KitchenAid standing mixer is irresistible. Should I go to Whole Foods for ingredients to make a complex new banana bread that I just read about in Cook's Illustrated? There's also the raw cauliflower salad that would be perfect for what remains from this week's Fresh Direct delivery; and we have all of those green olives, and a fresh bunch of Italian parsley.
When endlessly researching writing and book blogs last year, I came across Luisa Weiss' The Wednesday Chef (www.thewednesdaychef.com). Luisa is a former cookbook editor, and Viking is about to publish her first book, My Berlin Kitchen: a Love Story (with Recipes). See, I've become entirely captivated by Luisa and her blog. One night I stayed up until the wee hours reading every single entry from 2005. I also like her blog because she lives in Berlin, and Berlin is now one of my two favorite places in the world (second only to Rome). If this weren't enough, I then discovered (through Luisa's blog) Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen (www.smittenkitchen.com). Now, between the two of them, it has been impossible to redirect my energy out of my kitchen and into my writing. I've purchased more quarts of buttermilk in the last twelve months than I care to admit.
All of this is terribly inconvenient because before the editor requested the extra material, I began to write a film treatment of the book, and I am determined to have Patricia Clarkson play the therapist. The casting is crucial. While I could be swayed about my preference for Rebecca Hall as Ivy, the protagonist, I am absolutely set on Zach Galifianakis as Arthur, the burly, lapsed Orthodox-Jewish, Monty Python-loving, contempt-for-the-rest-of-humanity doctor and medical writer.
I believe that this is a story that Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, and Jennifer Westfeldt would all vie to direct.
Imagine a romance that doesn't quite work out the way you expect, but helps pave the way for an even better tale, because the guy in the first story taught the girl everything she needed to know about recognizing those all-important signals like having a boyfriend who a) speaks to his mother only in Hungarian, b) tells his mother that his girlfriend is only half-Jewish before she even meets the girlfriend, and c) frequently expresses his derision for self-help books and the people who read them -- knowing full well that his girlfriend is a long-time subscriber to therapy and those types of books.
Oh, and then there's the food.
Ivy and Arthur use food to avoid the big issues in their lives. But they are both so interesting and funny, such good cooks and conversationalists, that this never occurs to them until they've moved in together and started a new life in a Hudson Valley suburb of New York City. After visiting every restaurant and café in town, one month before Passover, the relationship begins to disintegrate. They both shut down around sex and money. Not even a perfectly executed brisket or Marcella Hazan's Bolognese sauce can keep things together and they eventually break up. But then, something else happens that changes the story, but I can't go into that because I haven't yet finished the film treatment.
OK, I need to excuse myself because I have to pick up my bi-weekly delivery of organic produce and decide whether or not to use the escarole in a salad with blood oranges and avocado, or sauté it with garlic, crushed red pepper, and white canellini beans.
What would you do?