Grub Street New York editor (and charming wickedly smart person) Alyssa Shelasky's new book Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen was released yesterday by Three Rivers Press. It is, according to Amazon, "the hilarious and heartfelt memoir of quintessential city girl Alyssa Shelasky and her crazy, complicated love affair with...the kitchen."
The book "protect[s] the identities of those whom I've loved and fed" by referring to her itinerant boyfriend/cheftestapant/big pharma shill/DC chef Spike Mendelsohn simply as "Chef." It also almost totally glances over the saga of her being a topic of intense Gawker scorn because of her Glamour oversharing dating column.
In addition, Shelasky proposes new words into the "foodie" lexicon, including: "relationchef" (being in a relationship with chefs); "gastro-poetry" (voicemails in which people chew food into the phone); and "gangster eater" (someone who eats pig butt and fish eyeballs). A television series is all but inevitable, but here now, the 22 best lines from Apron Anxiety:
1) Love advice: "An infamous, skirt-chasing chef once said to me, 'The only way to keep a chef happy is to keep his cock happy.'"
2) On her teenage years: "One sip of beer and I'd take off my top and flash an entire room of horny teenagers. "
3) On her time in Los Angeles: "One night, we went to a party at a rock star's glass mansion in the hills. I ended up so messed up from mojitos and more that I did a strip show on the deck while the nabes cheered me on. We found a disposable razor in the pool-house bathroom and I had one of the Guns N' Roses guys shave my entire body."
4) The only reference to the dating column/Gawker saga: "My dating blog for Glamour received substantial traffic, but also armies of haters because of its feather-light content and general lack of substance or self-analysis (I never took it seriously and it showed). Suddenly, I was petrified that I'd made a mockery of my professional self and had ruined my writing career for good."
5) On her courtship with Spike: "We start to e-mail and text... I write him that the sauce he made on last week's episode looked so good that 'I wanted to take a bath in it!' He writes back four seconds later: 'That could be arranged.' This is my kind of guy."
6) Sexxxytime (and train tickets): "Before I can ask if he wants Italian or Thai, he kisses my lips, wraps his tender arms around my waist, and walks us down the cobblestone street, under the Manhattan Bridge and the splitting skies. Our bodies are sticky; our hair is wild. We don't care where we're going. It is the love affair I never want to end, the perfect storm... After that night, which rocked both my body and mind, Chef starts buying me train tickets to visit him every weekend in D.C."
7) On making fun of Padma Lakshmi: "So he accidentally serves the dish with lots of little bones in it. He tries to save face by saying that's how it's done in Asia, but he's busted and he knows it. In my best Padma impression, I tell him to pack his knives and go, and we both get our kicks."
8) On what it's like dating a chef: "To most couples, dinner with friends is known as Tuesday. To those in a 'relationchef,' as I call our situation, it is known as a blessing."
9) On what it's like being in a "relationchef": "If nothing else, I'm definitely Chef's stylist."
10) On her dark days in Washington, DC: "So I start drinking at noon and logging in and out of his e-mail to read the latest slutty note from some sex-deprived housewife, or the details of his travel itineraries to places I've always wanted to visit yet haven't been invited to."
11) Even darker days (and sending anonymous tips, poorly): "One afternoon I'm feeling so unsteady and insecure about all his female fans, and the fact that he's usually perceived as single in the press, that I drink screwdrivers like it's my job and send anonymous sightings of us "looking very much in love" into the Washington Post from a fake e-mail account. He's mine, bitches. Somehow my real name appears along with the alias, and by the time the reporter e-mails back, 'Wait, aren't you the girlfriend you speak of?' I just want to curl up and die."
12) On what it's like to drive to Whole Foods for the first time, ever: "The car windows are down, the National is playing, and my long, layered hair is pinned up just right. I look good in foodie."
13) On starting to cook for Spike: "He is so excited to hear about my culinary adventures that you'd think I was Anthony Bourdain with boobs."
14) Post-break up, she turns to food and (gasp) printed, crowdsourced media: "For solace, I turn to French brasseries, hyped noodle shops, dirty-spoon diners, and suspicious shawarma stands. I've become a savvier eater, but I've never been the type to keep a restaurant bucket list until now. As I cope with the collapse of us, Zagat is my Zoloft."
15) On a dating prospect: "[H]e couldn't care less about my secret phone number for all of Keith McNally's restaurants, or that Emeril Lagasse once fed me banana cream pie on national television, or how many people follow me and my blog on Twitter."
16) On seeking advice from someone who'd been there/done that: "I still haven't found my signature method for roasting, and I ask Gael Greene via Twitter which recipe I should use. Who can speak better to food and romance? After all, she wrote my favorite food memoir and shagged Elvis. I am at her culinary command."
17) "Sardines make me quiver (and not in the good way), and the avant-garde lard trend is a huge gross-out.... So chances are I'll never be a gangster eater—no pig butt or fish eyeballs for me, please—but I make no apologies and still consider myself largely culinary-spirited."
18) On interviewing chefs: "[I]t's a safe bet that they all just want to talk about bacon, sex, and themselves, anyway."
19) On the dreamy chef Paul Liebrandt: "Paul Liebrandt of Corton and the documentary Matter of Taste, and whose crystal blue eyes make me lose all concentration, argues that Marco Pierre White was the last of the rock star chefs, imploring me to buy White Heat right away."
20) On dating weirdos in New York City "In the lobby of the Bowery Hotel, I get cozy with a Jared Leto lookalike who wears eyeliner and smells like a wet dog. When I stop returning his calls, because he's just too out there, he leaves endless voice mails in which he simply chews food into the phone. He calls it gastro-poetry..."
21) On food industry Twitter addicts: "When did tweeting become the new chain-smoking?"
22) A pretty bad burn at a food event: "An older woman responds, 'Speaking of, Alyssa, I'm confused. Which chef are you with now?'"