Monday, November 13, 2006

Molly O'Neill

So it seems that greatness attracts greatness...That said, will I be the next Ruth Reichl/Molly O'Neill, or the next Eileen Myles/Michelle Tea? Maybe both.

I'm reading Molly O'Neill's memoir Mostly True, which claims to be about food and baseball. I had the chance to hear O'Neill read a few years ago and it was surprisingly one of hte best readings I've been to. A food writer, I thought...Who wants to hear some food writer read? I hadn't known at the time that O'Neill had been food writer at the Times. The reading was at Vassar and unlike most readings it was packed, and it had a large audience of non-students. O'Neill read--and what she read I have memory of, hough I do remember being slowly charmed--and then she took questions. Most vividly I remember the sense of longing, and ownership, and community that writing about food created between O'Neill and the audience, many of whom had no doubt read her columns for years. Why did you leave, people begged. Tell us what really happened. We miss you. I have never felt a connection and a sense of community that strong at a reading. So it makes sense, now that I make my living in the kitchen, to return to O'Neill. Maybe I'll write her. I'll track down Molly O'Neill and I'll say, I saw you read. I'm a chef now. Who wants to be a writer. I could be the new you. Sure, I'll just add that to my list of goals. Network with Molly O'Neill.

But she writes, when speaking of pastry:

Bakers live in a world apart, a sweet and self-contained world that, due to the fine mist of flour and confectioners sugar in the air, tends to feel like the inside of a snow globe. Restaurant cooks work as a team, side by side, like cogs in a machine. Bakers tend to be solitary....I was also pleaed to be part of a lifestyle in which flour, sugar, and butter were primary food groups.

and then, two pages later:

Slouched in the club chair in the living room, I explained to him that I had ruined my life--I was writing Happy Birthday on carrot cakes instead of writing literature. What had I been thinking? The fans were never going to go wild for Pastry Girl!

Then she goes on to be a head chef, to serve dinner to Julia Child and Paul Bocuse, and to become a food writer...which is where I am.

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