After a Saturday night dinner accompanied by free-flowing wine and generous laughter, a female friend I’ve known for quite a few years leaned over and confessed – she’d been harboring a girl crush. On me! I giggled and if I were a blusher, I probably would have done so right then. She then proceeded to recount the day we first met and what I was wearing. More nervous snickering. And then more wine. The husbands had no idea what was so funny and it was just as well since I’m sure their imaginations would have run wild. “It’s not like that,” I would scold before bursting into a fit of laughter yet again. It was the kind of evening you think about the next morning when you wake up (with a half-smile on your face…and a headache).
It got me thinking – of the “girl crushes” to which I can admit, have I ever confessed to the subject of my adoration? No, most definitely not. This particular night occurred a few months back, but the reappearance of radishes at the farmers market caused it to come rushing back to mind. Radishes now reminded me of one such “crush” that began long before I met her in the flesh.
I’d been reading and enjoying the work of Amanda Hesser long before I saw the movie “Julie and Julia”, the foodie book-turned-movie in which she played herself. Long before I thought writing a cooking blog would be a good “midnight oil” project, as I jokingly refer to the very site you are reading now. Before her departure from the New York Times. Or the start of Food52. Or the email I blindly sent her one day, wondering if we might collaborate on the launch of a new partnership with Whole Foods Market (note: email returned, with personal greeting and glowing compliments about Weekly Greens about 4.3 minutes after I’d hit “send” – um, whoa).
So, when I met Ms. Hesser last spring at a nearby Whole Foods store while she was in town signing her recently published cookbook, I was sure my little bubble would burst. Surely she wouldn’t be as lovely and kind in person as I’d built her up to be in my head. She couldn’t be all that. But she was all that and a bag of farro (which is what I bought from the newly unveiled cooking section of the store that day). As she signed my copy of the cookbook, and her other previous books I’d brought from home, she talked about her recent travels and being away from her preschool-aged twins. She was real and approachable and affable. She didn’t want to be away from her kids either. And she just wished people would cook more. Me, too.
She agreed to let me write a little column for the Whole Foods Market Cooking website and introduced me to the cooking coach who was working in the new section. I felt slightly sheepish asking for a photograph, but I did it anyway. Every time I make Amanda’s Radish and Pecan Grain Salad – a spring regular here – I think of this day and of her. I’ve posted my adaptation here, but you can see her original recipe and read her characteristic witty head note here.
So there, I’ve confessed. And maybe one day I’ll admit the same to another lovely Amanda. Or a Kassie. And a Jackie (all of whom I actually know well!). Or the other lovelies in my life who don’t have websites I can link to here. I guess I just did.
P.S. This week I thought I’d join you at the start of the week, rather than the end. Did I get your attention? Or are you too flustered by Monday to bother? Tell me what you think. As always, I like to mix it up sometimes.