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A Week in Culture: Amanda Hesser, Food Writer, Part 2

December 9, 2010 | by

Photograph by Sarah Shatz.

DAY FOUR

ALL DAY All work, no Internet play.

>1:00 A.M. Time to do some serious reading online. Nah! Read about the Steve Martin imbroglio at the 92nd Street Y. Skip over to a piece on Google and Groupon (best part: Andrew “Mason, Groupon’s chief executive, declined an earlier interview request, adding that he would talk ‘only if you want to talk about my other passion, building miniature dollhouses.’”) Listen to some Beth Orton, which always makes me think of a former boyfriend/jackass, who introduced me to her music—a shame, because I like you Beth!—so I switch to Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara,” a song I love because it scorns the clichéd drum climax interlude. The song builds and builds and never resolves.

Then my surfing goes to a dark place. Read Gawker story on whereabouts of Julian Assange, followed by a New York Times story on the suicide of the suspect in the murder of Ronni Chasen, a Hollywood publicist.

Robert Scoble pulls me from my death spiral. Thank you, man. Listen to his interview with Kevin Systrom, a cofounder of the Internet sensation Instagram. I like listening to company founders tell their stories, although I’m more interested in their tone and salesmanship than what they actually do. Systrom’s was confident, controlling, and mildly dismissive.

Dip my toe into the Times story on obesity surgery. Decide I’d rather think of something besides Lap-Bands before bed … like my to-do list! It’s three pages long and includes items like “Read Wired story on coupons” and “Look up foodie episode of South Park”—plus a whole host of actual work and responsibility, like “Figure out health insurance” and “Sign Addie up for ballet.”

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A Week in Culture: Amanda Hesser, Food Writer

December 8, 2010 | by

Photograph by Sarah Shatz.

DAY ONE

11:00 A.M. Paris Reviewers: You may want to sit down for this, or drink a few stockpiled Four Lokos. I am about to rock your world with a schizophrenic, middlebrow, totally aimless, and mostly pointless cultural hodgepodge. And the jittery attention span of youth is no excuse—I’m well over thirty.

An early morning of kitchen prep, latte guzzling, and e-mail scouring (Techcrunch is my daily must-read e-mail; I’m too busy for other newsletters, though I dearly miss VSL). Then six of us begin our weekly photo shoot for food52. A former food52 editor taught us oldsters the terms “douche-b” and “d-bag.” In her honor, I play for everyone Kanye West’s new song “Runaway,” whose chorus is “Let’s have a toast for the douchebags. Let’s have a toast for the assholes. Let’s have a toast for the scumbags. Everyone of them that I know.”

1:30 P.M. Eat the fruits of our morning labor: two kinds of latkes and a brief break to watch “Don Draper Says What?” He says “What?” and looks handsome in at least forty-three different ways. Back to work, girls!

8:30 P.M. My husband, Tad, and I heap some leftovers—roasted salmon, more latkes, and arugula salad from Fishkill Farms—onto our dinner plates, then sit on the bedroom floor (reminder: must get TV tables!) and veg in front of It’s Complicated. The Nancy Meyers movie is particularly enjoyable because we’re not in the aging-boomer demographic it aims for, and thus are freed up to appreciate the calculated shrewdness—and lifestyle porn (the spas and island kitchens!)—of the seventy-five-million-dollar mom-com.

1:00 A.M. Culture mulching in my new Internet-y lifestyle happens late at night. As I dig myself out of the daily e-mail blizzard, I flip back and forth between Twitter and NYTimes.com. NYTimes is like my wise parents; Twitter, my smartest pals. From Twitter, I link through to Kottke.org to read about extraterrestrial life. Guiltily, I creep on over to the Washington Post to catch up on Jane Black and Brent Cunningham’s op-ed on the food culture wars. This is the topic foodniks have long been avoiding; I love stories that call out the elephant in the room.

New Yorker writer Susan Orlean wrote a cookbook review for food52’s Tournament of Cookbooks. It ran today and was such a gem in structure and tone, I read it once more, just for fun.

Late, late: Realized that I fell so far behind on the Wikileaks hullabaloo that I have no idea where to begin: Analysis? Original breaking story? Instead, look at photos of Brad Pitt’s leather pants on HuffPo. He really should not wear leather pants.

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