Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Want to Be Someone Else – I Want to Be…

Ina Garten – The Barefoot Contessa!

I’ve been going through some sort of personal crisis of late. Basically, I don’t like “me.” In thinking of who I’d like to be, I’ve come up with Ina Garten. I’ve been an avid watcher of Food Network for about 10 years now. Ina Garten is one of my favorites on the network. In addition to being a chef and host on television, she is the author of many cookbooks – several of which I own. The books have a fair amount of commentary in them. That coupled with the fact I’ve watched her for 10+ years, I feel I know a lot about Ina (in my mind, we’re on a first name basis). She makes great food and she eats it too I believe – unlike other celebrity chefs (Giada deLaurentiis).

Let me give you a glimpse into the life of Ina Garten – inasmuch as it is portrayed on TV and in books. Before becoming a TV personality, she had quite a local following in the ultra posh village of East Hampton New York, where she lives. All of the TV shows and books are set in her home. Her kitchen is inviting and state of the art. Along with all the top kitchen equipment, she has a fabulous garden full of herbs and flowers. She doesn’t “do” the garden herself. I know this because she gave a party for the person who did her garden and for the one who featured photos of it in his photography book. There she owned a catering company and specialty food shop called Barefoot Contessa. “The Hamptons” are in intriguing place – especially from Ina’s perspective. She’s wealthy and she throws parties for her wealthy friends. Now this wealth isn’t like some of the Hamptons’ wealth. This isn’t Billy Joel, Jerry Seinfeld or other obscene east coast old money wealth – but no one is Ina’s set has had to worry about paying for anything in decades. Must be nice… Thus is the setting for Ina’s idyllic life in the Hamptons.

Ina is married to Jeffrey for more than 40 years. He works in finance or as an accountant of some sort. He’s not the Wall Street type, however. This is where things get interesting… Jeffrey works in “The City” during the week, and comes home to Ina on the weekend. Perhaps that’s the key to a happy marriage of 40 years. He comes home on Friday night when she always cooks for him a roast chicken. As far as I can tell this is their one concession they make to being Jewish. Try the chicken. It is that good…

So Monday, through Thursday Ina is enjoying cocktail parties, dinners, gallery openings, clam bakes, card parties and cookouts with her chic friends sans Jeffery. Ina always does the food at these gatherings, of course. Sometimes she partners with a friend. She talks about how great it is that she didn’t have to do all the work but, in fact, the friend brought napkins or wine.

His name is TR.  Isn't he beautiful!
Ina has marvelous friends who have become wealthy doing any number of things. But my favorites – FAVORITES – are her cadre of FABULOUS GAYS! A girl needs one in her life from time to time to let you know how fabulous you are (or are not). They keep the Hamptons beautiful with their flowers, artwork, wine, cheese, and sometimes themselves. Most of all they find Ina absolutely FABULOUS!

Because everyone’s life has pain, I wonder what her secret pain is. She and Jeffery don’t seem to have children. Sometimes Food Network has “cook with your kids” shows. They find some children for Ina to have on the show and they awkwardly prepare something. It’s the only time the show is hard to watch. But perhaps the inability or the unwillingness to have kids on one of their parts has been a cause of pain. Or it could be one of the secrets of the 40 year happy marriage…..

On occasion, you can find a reference to her being Jewish – roast chicken on Friday night. The other day she mentioned how they didn’t eat pork in her home growing up. So I glean that at some point she strayed from her faith, or maybe she never really had any. Perhaps she regrets this. As it stands now, Ina hasn’t met a fish, clam, mussel, shrimp or crustacean she doesn’t love cook. She has many pork loin recipes. And she’s the one who taught me how to cook bacon in the oven for crying out loud (one of the best things to know). I can’t comprehend a life entirely without pork. Being a good Christian girl from the South I can, and at time I’m obligated, to use pork at all three meals. It’s in our DNA.

So Ina, here’s to you! Since I can’t be you, I hope we can meet at your fabulous home in the fabulous Hamptons at one of your fabulous parties and drink your fabulous wine.  Or maybe we can get you to bring your fabulousness to the South!

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