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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

177

A Macabre Twist

If you’re like me, you watch a lot of TV and also, stop biting my style, it’s so desperate, everyone thinks you’re really desperate.

Sadly, new episodes of the Real Housewives of Downton Abbey can’t be on the air 24/7, and TeenNick doesn’t show up as part of your cable package anymore. (Why? So mysterious.)

In the early stages of television addiction, the Food Network can generally be relied upon as a source of new (to you!) content. But what happens when even the Food Network shows become reruns?

Chill out, girl. Knock back a drink and turn on The Barefoot Contessa. Now get ready to experience Ina and the gang as you’ve never experienced them before. It’s time to insert:

A Macabre Twist

Hopefully by this stage in your television addiction, you're already extremely familiar with The Barefoot Contessa, or, as close to extremely familiar as one can get to a woman so shrouded in cream-colored secrets. Just to be sure, here’s a quick refresher:

The Barefoot Contessa is an incredibly soothing cooking show hosted by an easy, breezy upperclass lady named Ina Garten. A former White House nuclear policy analyst (!!!), Garten does the show right from her own East Hampton kitchen, serving up expert cooking tips like, "Make sure your salt is really good salt" and "Make sure you've got some really, really good tomatoes.”

For the most part, every episode is contrived around a little meal-related plot. Examples include: "Ina throws a surprise welcome home dinner to celebrate her friends' return from France!" “Ina prepares a ladies’ lunch for volunteers of the East Hampton Historical Society!” and "Ina caters a backyard charity luncheon — Alec Baldwin needs to pick up vegetables!”

As such, the show features a small cast of rotating minor characters made up of Ina’s real-life friends and loved ones. The composition of the “cast” can be broken down into five rough groups:

Older Gay Men (Frank, Stephen, Michael, T.R.)

Tony Women From New England Beachtowns (Barbara, Sinead, Pam, Valerie)

Celebrities (Alec Baldwin, Mariska Hargitay)

Not Jennifer Garner (“I tried to get on Ina’s show,” Garner explained in an interview for W magazine, “… But eventually she just said, ‘I’m sorry, I only use my real friends on the show.’”)

and Jeffrey

Ina’s husband, Jeffrey Garten, is a huge part of the show. While only seen in person occasionally, Jeffrey garners at least one on-air mention in almost every episode. A former Dean of the Yale School of Management, he also served as Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade under the Clinton administration, on the White House Council on International Economic Policy under Nixon, and as a managing director for both the Blackstone Group and Lehman Brothers on Wall Street.

One time Ina sent Jeffrey to the store to pick up charcoal and he suffered a minor on-camera meltdown, fretting that he’d choose the wrong type or size bag, or, worse, come back with a Tupperware container full of clamshells like he did that one time, and then, when he finally arrived home with his purchase, Ina opened up the sack of briquettes to reveal that Nervous Jeffrey had squeezed them all into diamonds and the two of them laughed and laughed but you can’t grill steaks on diamonds and something cold in Ina’s eyes sent a shiver up Jeffrey’s spine.

Anyway!

One way to make The Barefoot Contessa even more compelling than it already is, is to imagine that Ina's dearly beloved and oft-mentioned Jeffrey is actually deceased.

In this version of the show, which I like to call The Shoeless Dowager Contessa, Ina Garten spends her days muttering recipes to herself, blissfully trapped in a prison of her own imagining. You can mix and match sinister plot elements to craft your own Macabre Twist, but here’s the gist of mine:

1. Jeffrey Garten, a Great War veteran, was due home from the Second World War in the spring of 1945. Weeks before his scheduled return, Jeffrey’s plane was shot down over the Pacific.

2. For his wife, Ina, time stopped the day she got the news. Following the rapid deterioration of her mind into total insanity, she continues to live her life as though expecting Jeffrey home any minute.

3. Nowadays, Ina spends her time meticulously narrating her housewifely duties to an audience of no one.

- “I’m going to prepare a real treat for Jeffrey’s lunch tomorrow,” Ina explains, smiling at an empty room.
- “I have to hide these pots de crème in the back of the fridge so Jeffrey doesn’t spoil his dinner!” Ina confides to silence.
- “Make sure you have really good tomatoes,” she whispers to herself as she chops.

4. The guests Ina so frequently entertains are actually individuals whose sole purpose in visiting is to check up on her, their ward. Ina remains unaware of this and crafts roles for all in her desperate, elaborate fantasy.

-  The men she thinks of as fab gay pals are, in fact, trained home caregivers, paid to ensure her safety in the kitchen.
- Sometimes celebrities like Alec Baldwin visit. These are Ina’s children, whose faces she fails to recognize.
- Hearing of Ina’s circumstances, a childhood pal, little Jennie Garner, wrote to Ina asking if she might pay a visit. “I’m sorry, but I don’t care to entertain strangers when I’m so busy preparing for my husband’s return,” came the frosty reply.

5. From time to time, Ina even hallucinates that she sees Jeffrey. These reunions, during which they talk and laugh and love easily, are short-lived. Time resets itself every night when she falls asleep.

Voilà! You can now re-watch every episode of The Barefoot Contessa/The Shoeless Dowager Contessa with new eyes.

How bad can that be?

Previously: Sometimes State Quarters...

Caity Weaver would like to write for you. Watch her practice on Twitter.

Image partially by Hanka Steidle, via Shutterstock



177 Comments / Post A Comment

SBGBlogs

I LOVE THIS. Because I love Ina! Even reruns! But now I shall turn macabre Barefoot Contessa into a drinking game as well somehow.

Chicago Hairpin meetup where we all drink wine and watch poor sad lonely Ina talk to no one?!

Katie Scarlett

@SBGBlogs Yes please!!!

gunface

@SBGBlogs Yesssss!

modesty makeover

@SBGBlogs noooooo. I'm so jealous! I want to be in Chicago :(

mayonegg

@SBGBlogs As long as there's a follow-up Robyn dance party, I'm on board.

SBGBlogs

@mayonegg I keep wanting Barefoot Contessa to be streaming on Netflix but Netflix is all, "NO WAY." And then I'm all "UGGHHH, FINE." And then I have to watch the cooking shows on Create because I don't have cable...

ANYWAY. Has anyone conveniently taped every episode of the Contessa? Is there a box set I don't know about for some reason?

Jeeeefffffffrrreeeeeyyyyyyy!

Gertrude

@mayonegg a Barefoot Contessa - Robyn party is the most glorious intersection of my lady-interests.

Ka$hleen

@SBGBlogs yes yes yes

aproprose

@SBGBlogs This Chicago lady is on board for all things Macabre Contessa and Robyn.

diesel_vontrapp

@SBGBlogs Yes. To. All.

mayonegg

@SBGBlogs You guys know you're all responsible for actually planning this, right? I'll make a playlist or some cocktail or something, but that's about where my event-planning abilities end. Which is why I will never be the Contessa.

PleasureGelf

@SBGBlogs Yes please to Chicago meet up! Hmm, that last sentence made me sound much more illiterate than I actually (maybe) am...

SBGBlogs

@PleasureGelf SOMEONE GET DVDs OF THE CONTESSA! Then all of you come over! SERIOUSLY.

Katie Scarlett

I kinda really wanna throw an Ina/Robyn potluck/dance party now. Too bad I am without cable/dvr capabilities :(

sparrow303

@Katie Scarlett YES YES yes yes!!! I don't have cable any more and I miss Ina so much!!! Name the time and place, chicas.

diesel_vontrapp

@fishiefishfish Does anyone have a friend who might have a bar hookup? Like they'd play Ina for us at the bar if we promise to be multitudinous, sweet-smelling, good tippers?

rocknrollunicorn

@SBGBlogs YES! How are meet-ups arranged around here? I'm in Chicago and I don't get involved in comments on every post, so I'm worried I'll miss this. I'm real dumb, too -- there's no messaging feature here, is there?

SBGBlogs

@rocknrollunicorn Well. Basically. I think you should all come over and the small-ness of my apartment will be adorable and then when there are too many of us we can all go to the bar around the corner and if we go on a random, non-sports event night (like a Wednesday or something) maybe we can get them to turn the TV to the food network because there are so many of us???

Barefoot Contessa is NOT on Netflix, but there is a movie CALLED The Barefoot Contessa with Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart... OR I could get the celebrity chef edition of a Martha Stewart DVD and we can apply the same macabre technique?!? I can also get Paula Deen DVDs...

I WANT THIS TO HAPPEN, DAMMIT.

What is the non-creepy way to give you all my email so we can continue the discussion?

SBGBlogs

@SBGBlogs

OKAY. People who want to talk more about a Chicago Hairpin Barefoot Contessa Wine Food Network meetup, email sbgblogs@gmail.com!

mattewmc

Totally loved it.@t

emilylou

YESSSSS! You are amazing.
I think I have chronicled my distaste/fascination with Ina in the comments here before...

I play a similar game with GIADA. Oh Giada and her casual-cool California lifestyle. What dark secrets lie beneath... (meaning, probably there should be more of these about all the Food Network cheflebrities. I mean, what about Sunny Anderson?! So much talk about her "Daddy," we know something is going on there.)

MeghanElizabeth

@emilylouise The darkest thing about Giada is that she's a trained PASTRY chef who keeps telling us to use cake mix! Kidding. I'm sure Giada has loads of dark secrets.

Tuna Surprise

@emilylouise

http://www.celebitchy.com/125659/star_john_mayer_is_boning_married_chef_giada_de_laurentiis/

leastimportantperson

@emilylouise I remember Giada's sister's appearance on the show being really almost upsetting. They were both so uncomfortable. And if I recall correctly, her sister was like, "Why do you keep speaking Italian. What the hell is Italian even, we don't speak that." And Giada looked like she was about to burst into tears the entire time. There is someting weird going on with Giada's family. I said it.

Anji

@leastimportantperson I think I kind of might like her sister.

emilylou

@leastimportantperson Do you guys remember the one where her crazy aunt comes to visit? And she keeps correcting Giada on how to make this pasta recipe and G is obviously SO ANNOYED but is doing this weird fake laugh/banter thing to keep from exploding. It's great.

To be fair, I do like a good handful of her recipes.

HeyThatsMyBike

@Tuna Surprise Soooo John Mayer has to be one of the best lays in Hollywood, right? Because otherwise I can't figure out his widespread appeal amongst extremely attractive women of all ages, shapes, and sizes (Aniston, Minka Kelly, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Taylor Swift, Jessica Simpson, and now possibly Giada - just off the top of my head).

And on Giada, @emilylouise @MeghanElizabeth - anyone with a noggin that big has to be using it to hide a boatload of secrets. (Note: To be clear, she is a beautiful woman and I'm not knocking her appearance. But she has an absolutely enormous head. "Giada head too big" is an autofill on google, people)

Barry Grant

@emilylouise

How can you trust an Italian chef who weighs 80 pounds?

Also, Ina might be a good cook but AUGH! Her and her Hamptons One-Percenter friends make me sick.

Whew. I feel better now.

@Barry Grant Giada. Oh Giada. Stop peppering your show with overstyled Italian phrases when we all know your easy breezy style is merely the result of marrying a longboard-riding Anthro designer and Jane's hot rolling hair tutorial. Seriously, even the uber-Italian part of my extended family doesn't pull that shit. And my grandma's meatball recipe is way fucking better than yours, Giada. Seriously.

Let's make a note though: this ENTIRE POST is Hairpin greatness. LOVE IT.

punkahontas

@HeyThatsMyBike She does have a really huge head! On one episode, she was at a baseball game and tried to buy the largest size baseball cap, and it sat on top of her head like one of those tiny sombreros. She just laughed, because she's still super pretty and thin with big boobs and can cook.

Most people on TV have larger-than-average sized heads though. It's a thing.

liznieve

@leastimportantperson ahhhhh I wanted to look up on wikipedia but BLACK WEDNESDAY and all, but isn't her sister a famed feminist theorist? I can't remember if her alleged sister writes about specifically feminist art, or women in art, or ha! Maybe just art. Or feminism! But it's something I read in one of those art history seminars in college... sigh.

HeyThatsMyBike

@punkahontas Oh, it is definitely a thing! There's actually some research about how we like looking at people with big heads because of babies, basically. But for her head to stick out as being really noticably big even among famous tv people (who all have bigger heads) means her head must be absolutely enormous.
But yeah, I mean, she has pretty much everything going for her, and having a freakishly huge head isn't really a thing that makes you any less attractive, it's just a thing that you have.

MeghanElizabeth

@HeyThatsMyBike Yes, she does have a huge head for that tiny frame! Also, her hair is roughly as big and bouncy as Gretchen Weiners, which we all know means it's a great hiding place for secrets.

EpWs

@Barry Grant YES. Never trust a skinny Italian.

Dana Bjorum

@emilylouise yes to crazy aunt. Also yes to sister. Giada was teaching her Italian words, it seemed? Which then it's like... if Giada knows Italian, why doesn't her sister?

thebestjasmine

@S. Elizabeth Have you seen any of the episodes from her first season? She didn't do that Italian pronunciation thing at all, and was much more normal -- I feel like that was pushed on her from the network or something, and then it just became part of the show.

Xanthophyllippa

@punkahontas Her mouth is also sixteen miles wide. It's like staring into the Grand Canyon.

Craftastrophies

@liznieve IMDB tells me she (the sister) is a makeup artist.

Elleohelle

@HeyThatsMyBike IT IS TERRIBLE that I just had a moment of panic because I have a really small head, and I was legit afraid that no one would ever find me attractive again. I need to go back to bed and start my day over, I think.

HeyThatsMyBike

@Elleohelle Oh, honey. There is no research that says that we DON'T like looking at people with small heads. And really, the research applied more to watching people on television and such - not to like walking up to somebody on the street. You and your adorable little head are PERFECT!

atipofthehat

Well, her kitchen IS haunted....

meaux

I have never seen this show, but I may start watching now, given this fascinating twist. Also, I may start whispering reminders to myself while I chop. "Remember to get really good limes," I'll urge quietly while mincing cilantro.

Layla

@meaux "I wish you were just a little bit better. Just a little."

MeghanElizabeth

I can just see Ghost Jeffrey tucking into some baked eggs and brioche toast as Ina reminisces how that was his favourite breakfast when they visited Paris before he was drafted.

mayonegg

To be 100% honest, I always thought she treated Jeffrey like he was her special-needs brother...which is a far less interesting way to look at it.

@mayonegg Jeffrey is totally whipped.

Equestrienne

God I love her. It is my fervent hope that in my next life Ina and I are neighbors.

Dancercise

Her name always makes me want to sing "Ina Garten Da Vidda, baby..."

oh, disaster

Barefoot Contessa + Downton Abbey = BRAIN EXPLOSION.

But for real, if there's an afterlife, I'd like mine to be like her ACTUAL LIFE.

@andrea disaster The Barefoot Contessa of Downton Abbey: Macabre Drinking Game should be the new Hairpin official sport.

erinzyme

True story: my gentleman told me over Christmas that, were the opportunity to arise, he would leave me for Ina Garten in a hot second. I tried to get mad, but I couldn't really blame him.

Xanthophyllippa

@erinzyme I'm sorry, but I'm sure you're far hotter. If he leaves you for Ina Garten, you can come live with me.

jagosaurus

I may never stop laughing at this. Speaking of which, Ina Garten's laugh simultaneously horrifies and annoys me, and yet I would love a mastercut video of clips her laughing for some reason.

OH GOD PLEASE HELP ME.

lisma

Love this woman and her non-stop chambray shirts.

Xanthophyllippa

@ginalouise Her shent, you mean?

Anji

“I tried to get on Ina’s show,” Garner explained in an interview for W magazine, “… But eventually she just said, ‘I’m sorry, I only use my real friends on the show.’”

Awww. Jennifer, I'd have you over for a fancypants dinner! Hell, it'd be the first time I really used my culinary arts degree since I graduated. (Uh, four years ago...) I even have a menu all laid out in my head.

Not a fan of Ina, particularly because she's nicer to her friends than she is to her husband. Two Fat Ladies forever!

thebestjasmine

Oh my goodness this is brilliant, and I'm never going to be able to see the show any differently now.

nevernude cutoffs

“I'm not like Jeffrey Garten. I'm not as strong as that guy!”

nevernude cutoffs

@nevernude cutoffs I cannot hear his name without thinking of Matt Damon on 30 Rock, but I'm 100% fine with that.

DrFeelGood

@nevernude cutoffs Haha I was imagining this the whole time too.

Lady Humungus

Ok, her recipes! They're really good, and they never come out messed up like some other chef's (*ahem* Cook's Illustrated!) I make her Dinner Spanokopita all the time! Using good olive oil and good salt of course...

wee_ramekin

@Jengraf_80 Yeah, I make her chicken pot pie recipe IN WEE RAMEKINS and it is amazeballs.

Anji

@Jengraf_80 You have trouble with Cook's Illustrated recipes? I've loved that magazine since I was a kid! Their Carolina pulled-pork barbecue recipe has never once failed me.

@Anji Ina's Beef Bourguignon recipe is SUPERB.

Anji

@S. Elizabeth Mmmm. I do love me some beef bourguignon. Recently made some Catalan-style short ribs and my entire family just about imploded from deliciousness.

redonion

@Jengraf_80 Could not agree more! Her recipes always turn out fantastic, even when I sometimes do weird "innovations." I just made her pancakes on Monday. And her chicken chili is my go-to, even though everyone else thinks I am weird because it's chicken and has bell peppers instead of beans. But it's so good.

chevyvan

@wee_ramekin I make her chicken pot pie several times a year...usually after I make her roast chicken recipe. But my wee ramekins are TOO wee, so I make it in one giant ramekin. I guess I'll be changing my screen name now...

Lady Humungus

@Anji Ughh I tried to make the CI pumpkin pie recipe the night before thanksgiving and that ridiculous, overly fussy bullshit left me in tears. CI is all "ohhhh we have a TEST KITCHEN, you know" but I find their stuff mediocre for all the extra nonsense they seem to add in for no reason. I'd like to stuff Christopher Kimball's preppy bowtie up his smarmy ass.

But, it's cool if you like their stuff ;) Maybe I'll try their pulled pork, I googled the recipe and it looks pretty good...

Anji

@Jengraf_80 Oh dude, I hate the crap out of Kimball. I can't watch the show AT ALL LEST MY RAGE EXPLODE THE TELEVISION. I will say that I'm a fairly intuitive cook (and I went to culinary school, which I feel like I should disclose to you) so I tend to tweak recipes even when I'm making them for the first time, which might account for my good luck. I do agree that the CI pumpkin pie recipe was actually ridiculous and should not be trusted - I don't actually like CI's recipes for baked goods. For actual food, though, it tends to be good. Also, if you make the pulled pork, go with the dijon mustard/apple cider vinegar or pepper-flake/white vinegar sauces. The ketchup-based one is borrrrrrrrring.

thebestjasmine

@Anji AGREED, I hate Chris Kimball, and I don't like many CI recipes. I think their only good recipes are for any typical traditional middle american/northeastern kinds of foods -- meatloaf, fried chicken, etc. they do really well, but holy hell their recipes for anything Mexican or Creole or God forbid Asian are terrible.

The best pumpkin pie recipe is from Silver Palate. I made a different one this Thanksgiving and was mad at myself.

And Ina's recipes are awesome, they always always work and they're great for entertaining since she usually tells you what you can do in advance.

Anji

@thebestjasmine I admit that I get a chuckle out of how pompous the CI writers are. Someday I am going to start my own cooking magazine, only it will be full of swearing and anecdotes about my wild younger days, and it will teach you how to do stuff that people actually want to eat, and I will not pretend to be anything but an Italian/German/Polish chick from Baltimore who probably relies too heavily on the spice rack. I think it would be rad.

I will admit that I really like the sections in the front of the magazine that are full of reader-submitted tips and tricks, and the Q&A bit where they tell you what that weird gadget at a garage sale you bought is. It's pretty useful information, most of the time.

I made the Catalan short ribs recipe that was in the most recent November/December edition, and I will tell you that it was honestly kind of amazing. A bit of work, but I'm used to lengthy, complicated recipes.

I will confess something to all y'all: I'm not good at pie-making. AT ALL. I can make good fillings for pie, but the pie crust? WOE IS ME AND TO ALL WHO EAT IT. So I make my mom do it. She uses this banged-up old Amy Vanderbilt tome with some Andy Warhol illustrations and it's perfect every time. Her baking makes me feel like such a failure.

littlebird

@Jengraf_80 YESSSSSSSS. My husband went vegetarian a couple of years ago and I desperately miss making Ina's chicken pot pie. It makes so much and I can't eat it all myself. Maybe I need to just do it and then totally gorge for 3 days.

Xanthophyllippa

@Anji I would like to both order a subscription to your magazine and write for it. It can include the recipe my aunt gave me in which she wrote, "With clean hands and nails..."

Craftastrophies

@littlebird Can you freeze it? In individual ramekins, which you can then defrost for lunch.

PistolPackinMama

@Anji we made the Catalan stew for Christmas, and it was delicious. So yummy!

littlebird

@Craftastrophies I've frozen part of the filling before and just made new crust -- never the whole thing together. Pie crust typically freezes pretty well though, so it's probably a good option. I'd probably plan to do it and then just gorge anyway. But the idea of defrosting some wee ramekins of deliciousness is definitely appealing.

annveal

@Anji Your magazine sounds a bit like McSweeney's Lucky Peach!

katherinerine

@Anji I have that cookbook! I mildly collect old cookbooks, and I was leafing through that and went... Andy Warhol??? Perhaps not coincidentally, I am good at pie crusts. Except I use an Amish cookbook recipe.

thisiswater

My husband and I like to do something just like this when we put on "Tyler Florence's Ultimate." The early episodes have Tyler travel around the world, while the later and current episodes confine him to his cellar. The premise of our game is that Tyler developed crippling agoraphobia sometime along the way and now won't leave his cellar. Any references to his family are just sad pleas for his (now remarried) wife and children to come home while he cooks enormous family dinners that only he will be around to eat (explaining his commensurate weight gain).

lisma

@thisiswater he breathes so heavily that it distracts from his otherwise delicious-looking food.

wee_ramekin
Anji

@wee_ramekin Yeah, I didn't want to be the one to spoil the party with that link, but it's also part of the reason I'm not too thrilled about Ina.

Barry Grant

@wee_ramekin

See? SEE??

@wee_ramekin I'm really torn between being all "Ina! Horrible! Seriously!" and also realizing that this woman probably has a lot on her plate (ha! pun!). Am I horrible? Maybe I just don't want to hate Ina? I know, 6 year olds with cancer, oh god, I know, but... are you automatically a horrible person for saying no to the Make A Wish Foundation? Does becoming a Food Network TV cooking lady obligate you to invite strangers into your home? I know, I get it, he's 6 and has a horrible disease and had a wish, but...

I feel like a bad person trying to look at this in a different light.

(I also really dislike spending time with children.)

And yes, you're all welcome to rip me a new one. And because I'm a horrible person, I would actually be sort of pissed if I said no to a charitable organization in a nice way, they kept asking, and when there was a firm no it was publicized. That's not okay.

wee_ramekin

@S. Elizabeth Just for the record, I don't believe it was Make A Wish that publicized her refusal. The six-year old's mother wrote about it in her blog and it was picked up by the media.

I also tried to look at this in a different light because I <3 Ina a whole heck of a lot. And I do understand that she is a busy person, I really do.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut...I really can't find a reason why she would deny a dying six-year old a half a day (or probably a lot less!) of her time. From what I understand, the little boy didn't even want to be on a TV episode, he just wanted to cook with Ina. If the fact that *you* are the person who could bring a dying child the most memorable experience in his lifetime doesn't cause you to shift your schedule just a little bit, I...I honestly just don't understand.

klmw

@S. Elizabeth about a day later I'm bitching about the Make a Wish foundation like 50 comments below. I guess I should read first- BUT SRSLY-WTF-INA????

@wee_ramekin It may have to do with an issue with the organization, not the kid. I don't know. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to not being juiceboxes.

thebestjasmine

@S. Elizabeth I'm with you, actually, and this doesn't bug me at all. Famous people get charity requests all the time, and they can't do all of them, and they likely don't even personally hear about most of them, this all goes through their PR people. Also, most Make a Wish kids aren't dying (this kid wasn't), and Ina had worked with the Make a Wish foundation before. I think it's a little weird to force every celebrity to grant every damn charity request. Also, after it came to her attention when TMZ yelled about it, she said she'd do it, but then he changed his mind.

bombed_pop

@wee_ramekin She isn't obligated to give a random stranger anything, and it isn't necessarily selfish to turn him down. Maybe she just dislikes children and didn't want to give him a crappy experience.

Or maybe she devotes herself to another charity.

I think the idea that she must do what the dying kid wants crappier than her declining and mommy crying about it to the media. Celebrities turn down charity requests every day.

KatPruska

@bombed_pop I know, right?? Gods forbid a semi-famous woman turns down a request from a stranger. I mean, she's female! She owes everyone in the world her time and attention if they ask for it, dammit! And since it was from a kid she can be double-pilloried for not being maternal enough!

That whole mess left a gross taste in my mouth and it wasn't because of Ina Garten.

@KatPruska Yes. Okay, I will admit that I wished I had grown a pair of ladyballs and written this earlier, but I didn't want to sound like a horrible bitch. But here goes:

We live in a society that places a lot of importance on making childhood special and magical. We encourage this. We live in an era of teaching girls to be disney princesses and there's a big cultural *thing* with "doing it for the children." We, as a culture, are obsessed with youth and the perfection of youth and the falsehood of perfect childhood innocence. We also live in the land of self-esteem (see: special snowflake) boosting for its own sake. It's not socially acceptable to make the decision that was made.

At the same time, women are pretty much expected to be martyrs. Would this be different if it were a male athlete? No seriously, if this happened to an American football player, would the mere mention of him cause us to post these things? Would the media have even cared?

Childhood illness is horrible and disruptive and terrifying. I understand that. But I don't think that an adult who happens to be a TV personality has an obligation to do every charitable thing under the sun, including meeting a sick kid because it's his wish. I know that sounds really harsh, but the way this parent behaved was a little abhorrent -- calling the press when a perfect stranger doesn't wish to meet your child? Really?

@KatPruska makes a really good point about her not being "maternal" enough. Women are not obligated to be martyrs, or even make sacrifices. It bothers me that we're dumping on a woman (or her PR people, whatever) for having a boundary in her professional life that for whatever reason, she decided she didn't want to cross. She didn't want to have a meal with Jennifer Garner, she didn't want to have a meal with this child. I don't see anything wrong with that, celebrity status or not. Cooking artichoke hearts on camera should not obligate you to cook artichoke hearts for strangers if you don't want to.

This isn't coming out like I want it to. tl;dr: Why are we expecting white ladies who cook on TV to be angelic saints when their job is to steam artichoke hearts?

PistolPackinMama

@wee_ramekin @S. Elizabeth I like kids plenty, and totally agree with you, all the way. Disappointment is part of life, even when you are 6 and sick. Mama needed to help her kid cope with that in a positive way, not make it Garten's problem.

wee_ramekin

@PistolPackinMama & @all I am going to fly in the face of everything I know to be good and true and disagree with PistolPackinMama, S. Elizabeth and thebestjasmine. I have read, comprehended and understand your arguments, Madams, but I still cannot agree with them. I must die alone on the battlefield of my conviction.

V/R,

wee,solitary_ramekin

cinnamonskin

@thebestjasmine Anything perpetuated by TMZ gets the raised eyebrow.

thebestjasmine

@S. Elizabeth Athletes do shit like this all the time, actually, and there's occasionally one story about it and then no one pays attention.

PistolPackinMama

@wee_ramekin I admire you not only for the sweetness of your temper, but also for the strength of your convictions and the soundness of your moral compass.

Even if you are wrong.

(j/k about the wrong part)

Can I just say, were I an in full remission eighteen year old who was once a gravely ill six year old, I would *not* want to be The Kid Whose Mom Made a Fuss About Ina Garten Not Making Dinner With Me when I went off to college.

I'd live in fear that would be the first thing my slightly hostile roommate found out about me, and it would be all drunken teasing and not getting into my fraternity from there.

noReally

Not only is this freaking hilarious, if I were Ina I would be genuinely thrilled. I hope she sees it. I heart Ina.

kurlyQ

I've always sensed that Jeffery is being held under duress. I'm fairly certain that Ina keeps him shackled in a linen closet, only bringing him out for "really good" special occasions.

Palmetto

@kurlyQ same! see below.. i missed your comment :/

CrescentMelissa

See, I know all about how Ina maybe in real life isn't such a nice person BUT! I fine her so thoroughly entertaining and her recipes always work perfectly. I make her Perfect Roast Chicken every week and always have to say to myself how much Jeffrey loves my roast chicken. Also, I watched way too much Food Network they year I had my son and had a lot of time to sit on the couch nursing and watching food porn.

SBGBlogs

Is this where we all sit down and talk about SANDRA LEE?? Crazy drunk Aunt Sandy! Can we come up with a good backstory to why Sandy is the way she is? A schizo self-medicating with alcohol? Something darker? There is probably a body in her freezer is what I'm saying.

@SBGBlogs ...she grew up in poverty and often went without food. her history is pretty dark already.

SBGBlogs

@S. Elizabeth A world in which I can't make fun of Sandra Lee's ridiculous television show is not a world I want to live in.

@SBGBlogs "And then we're going to make ... a tablescape! For our SEMI-HOMEMADE dinner! With our girlfriends! Let's cut up these LLLLLLLLiiiiiimeeessssssss and drink our sangria out of a 2 gallow jug!"

Your turn.

lisma

@S. Elizabeth Dude, that is a serious bummer.

All the same, her food is sort of appalling at times, and not because she uses so many packaged shortcuts, but because she doesn't put that much effort into any of it. None of it ever looks good, and I eat Stouffer's on the reg.

New reality TV show idea: Put Ina and SandraLee in a kitchen together with only a camera crew and a deadline. Tell them both of their shows will be cancelled if they don't produce something awesome. Give them lime jello, organic endive, cake mix, cream of mushroom soup (campbell's, bitches!), vodka, grass-fed pork loin from a lovely little farm in the Hamptons where they massage the pigs with olive oil after they're born, etc.

Corresponding drinking game idea: Take a sip every time SandraLee's grating, perky voice makes the vein on Ina's forehead twitch while she tries to stay classy/welcoming/1%-ish/calm in the midst of SandraLee's "suburban mom on the go!" persona.

We'll call it "Occupy Food Network." There will be an octopus themed tablescape.

Anji

@S. Elizabeth You are my favorite. Not my favorite Hairpin commenter. You're just my favorite.

@Anji I love you, too.

wee_ramekin

@S. Elizabeth Re: Ina and Sandra Lee: Oh, it's already been BROUGHTEN!

EpWs

@S. Elizabeth I would watch this FOREVER.

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I can imagine it now... Ina scowling as SandraLee tries to make some sort of awful casserole with the $35/lb pork loin and campbell's, only after Ina passive-aggressively reminds SandraLee to only use really GOOD lime jello to make the dressing for the endive salad.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@SBGBlogs OHHHHHHH, you should read the Sandra Lee article from New York Magazine! It is a treasure trove! She is such a salty broad. Her food is the worst, but I love her more than a teensy bit.

http://nymag.com/news/features/sandra-lee-2011-4/

Anji

@werewolfbarmitzvah I read this based on your recommendation. Still hate her "food", but I'm now quite fond of Sandy.

Palmetto

I always thought that Jeffrey was Ina's slave that tended to her Hampton's garden while she cooked for her fun gay friends. Jeffrey lives in a locked, cramped room in the basement and only receives scraps of food via trash chute. muahaha!

@Palmetto The Apocalyptic Yellow Wallpaper: 2012 with the Gartens!

catfoodandhairnets

@Palmetto I always imagined that Jeffrey and the fun gay friends were getting it on in the potting shed while Ina cooks them all dinner.

klmw

I was totally INA OBSESSED until I read that story about the little boy from the Make A Wish foundation who was DYING and he would lie in bed with his mom and watch episodes of Barefoot Contessa over and over. His last wish was to cook with Ina Garten. And you know what she said? No. Twice. She hates dying children. I think her publicist finally told her she was crazy pants... But ever since then, my Barefoot Contessa Lemon Ginger scones leave a bad taste in my mouth.

EpWs

@klw YES. I am 100% with you here. Loved her and then she totally soured on me. Can't watch her now, she just pisses me off.

thebestjasmine

@klw The kid was not dying, it was not his last wish.

klmw

I not know how to hyperlink in a comment.... http://www.tmz.com/2011/03/24/ina-garten-barefoot-contessa-make-wish-child-cancer-leukemia-cooking-chef/

TMZ > ABC ? It was the first link...

Charlotte

Jeffrey is one of the best people on TV. Remember the one where he went to go buy a tent and couldn't set it up for like, the whole show? Also the one where he ate all the homemade chocolate ice cream before the roast (or soup or pot pie) and Ina caught him in his web of lies? I want a Jeffrey of my own!

wee_ramekin

@Charlotte Hahahaha "web of lies". I love that you've made a chocolate ice cream transgression sound like court intrigue.

Katie Scarlett

@Charlotte I did a literal LOL when remembering the tent. Thank GOD Jeffrey has Ina to take care of him because otherwise he's clearly be wandering the streets a disheveled and hungry mess.

leastimportantperson

@Charlotte I am silently cackling at my desk at all these flawless Jeffrey moments. Jeffreyyyy. Never stop being you.

Cynthiana

@Katie Scarlett LOLOLOL the funniest thing about the 'tent episode' was when Ina ACTUALLY said: 'When the tent's rockin', don't come knockin' . .. I kid you not, I spewed Sancerre-Rouge across the living room! I will bet you that they have a VERY healthy and active sex life! Good for them!

werewolfbarmitzvah

Poooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooor Jennifer Garner. She can be MY real friend if she wants, and we can make kimchi soondubu in my kitchen and film it on a webcam, and make a festive tablescape on the coffee table and serve everything with cans of Rolling Rock from Key Food while we watch CNN and impersonate Richard Quest.

madge

@werewolfbarmitzvah how does one get an invite to this party?

Lady Humungus

@werewolfbarmitzvah Can I be your real friend too? I'll bring some homemade limoncello to your party.

Anji

@Jengraf_80 You make limoncello too? Hee. My dad and I just did some homemade limecello and it is surprisingly tasty. And drunkenating. Which, ahem, may or may not have been our goal.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@Anji Heeeeeee, limoncello now always reminds me of Danny Devito showing up drunk on The View: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46wakJ8oggM

Next NYC 'Pinup, I'll send around a sign-up sheet for my soondubu-beer-CNN party! Anyone who can impersonate any CNN contributor is welcome!

Anji

@werewolfbarmitzvah Oh god, yes! It's actually what inspired us to start making it in the first place.

...then again, I have the kind of dad who cheerfully suggests Patrón shots during Ravens games.

Craftastrophies

@Anji My sweetie wooed me with homemade limoncello. Except the first time he watered it down because he 'didn't want to get me drunk'. HE LEARNT.

Brioscaí@twitter

Hairpin obsession collides with newly found Barefoot COntessa obsession ... I need a job yesterday

Cynthiana

@Brioscaí@twitter Oh God . . . I have to ask . . . tell me about your hairpin obsession AND your BFC obsession . . . do you know that Ina has more people 'obsessed' with her than any other Food Network chef? My jack says it is due to her hypnotic, sexy, porn voice . . . he (Jack) actually begged me to gain weight, dress like, and cut my hair (already black) into a bob, just so he could live out his Ina Garten fantasies. Weird? Yes . . . but it has SURE kicked up the volume on our sex life lol. I will bet Ina has Jeffrey exhausted, yet begging for more, most of the time (Friday nights hahaha)

miwome

This is amazing! It's just like Luke's mother in the Percy Jackson series! Except she eternally expects her son to return, and she makes PB&J and burned chocolate chip cookies every single day for his lunch and forgets about it, leaving it out to rot, without ever noticing what's happening. Also, weird obsession with garden gnomes.

ughwhocares

Ina's cookbook is like my Bible.

Cynthiana

@ughwhocares I CARE! SERIOUSLY! I have all of Ina's books, autographed, and I won't make a culinary move without consulting them! My hubby has a HUGE lust for Ina and I have to admit that Jeffrey is the cutest thing since white bread was invented. We are contemplating a foursome . . . . . LOL (just kidding!)

Xanthophyllippa

Seriously, people: Food Network Humor. You're welcome.

@Xanthophyllippa this just changed my life. <3 u.

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth Welcome to my addiction.

(p.s. Don't forget to look for Paula Deen Riding Things.))

rocknrollunicorn

This is one of the best things I've ever read.

miwome

Yo, Caity! Mostly unrelated to this post, but I hope you'll read this: I see (/have seen) that you are Seeking Employment. I got a guy (okay, he's my dad) who has written a book, and is looking for a bright-eyed, intelligent individual to help him market it, on social networks and elsewhere. Fun Fact: He knows Jeff Garten! This is the only connection I have making this not 100% rando.

It seems like what he needs is pretty different from what you've done in the past, but I figured it's worth a shot! Certainly I think you could manage it in addition to freelance writing, and it's probably about a three-month commitment, so if it's not your thing, you got an easy out. (On the other hand, if you dig working with him, there's potential for extension.)

Here is the book and here is the blog he's been writing most recently.

Dear Others: feel free to reply here as well! I make no promises, but he needs help, so anyone who's interested is good to talk to.

Cynthiana

@miwome GOOD GOD . . . if you really 'knew' Jeffrey Garten you would know that he NEVER goes by 'Jeff' . . .. NEVER! It is a thing with him. I call B.S. on the 'my father knows' thing. And yes, I do know both of them very well and just hate it when someone claims familiarity for some financial gain.

youresmalltime

I legit have a laughter headache and a tear in my eye.

Achyvi

This is AMAZING. Added bonus is that it makes that show more tolerable!

Chuck

Omg, the charcoal episode and an Alec Baldwin episode were just on back to back on UK FoodNetwork! They were so weird! Alec Baldwin!?? Huh? Baffled. I so don't understand the Barefoot Contessa...

Cynthiana

Oh good grief . . . the Baldwin/Hargitay episode was awkward . . . Ina has NEVER been impressed with celebrities, so I imagine that one of her producers or agents cooked that one up. I am sooooo in love with Jeffrey it is not even funny . . . my hubby is also smitten with Ina, so that makes us even. We have a very twisted sense of humor so we LOVE YOU!

bescasey

Omg, the charcoal episode and an Alec Baldwin episode were just on back to back on UK FoodNetwork! They were so weird! Alec Baldwin!?? Huh? Baffled. I so don't understand the Barefoot Contessa.....tempurpedic

danrobin57

Childhood illness is horrible and disruptive and terrifying. I understand that. However I don't think that an adult who takes place become a TV bootcamp workouts has an obligation to do every charitable thing under their sun, including meeting your sick kid because it's his wish. I know that will sounds really harsh, but that the way this parent behaved was a little abhorrent -- calling the press when the perfect stranger doesn't want to satisfy your child? Really?

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Riverwind Indiependentpublishing@facebook

Your whole version of a show called "The Shoeless Dowager Contessa" doesn't even make sense.

Jeffrey Garten wasn't even born until 1946. You could have easily googled their basic information before going through all the trouble you have.

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