Alex Guarnaschelli and Me

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One of my favorite books and movies of recent times has been Julie and Julia. Julie’s opening blog on her website reads as follows:


Sunday, August 25, 2002
The Book:
Mastering the Art of French Cooking. ” First edition, 1961. Louisette Berthole. Simone Beck. And, of course, Julia Child. The book that launched a thousand celebrity chefs. Julia Child taught America to cook, and to eat. It’s forty years later. Today we think we live in the world Alice Waters made, but beneath it all is Julia, 90 if she’s a day, and no one can touch her.

The Contender:
Government drone by day, renegade foodie by night. Too old for theatre, too young for children, and too bitter for anything else, Julie Powell was looking for a challenge. And in the Julie/Julia project she found it. Risking her marriage, her job, and her cats’ well-being, she has signed on for a deranged assignment.

365 days. 536 recipes. One girl and a crappy outer borough kitchen.

How far will it go? We can only wait. And wait. And wait…..

The Julie/Julia Project. Coming soon to a computer terminal near you.

Ever since first watching Alex Guarnaschelli on the Food Network, I have undergone a transformation. I am not sure I can explain it, but there is something about the way she speaks, her facial and body posture, and the energy around her when she is cooking that draws me in to her every word. It is as if she has transcended to another realm when she is cooking. She appears to have this clear vision and then commits to bringing her vision to life to share with others.

Because I was so fascinated with her approach, I began this quest several months ago to seek out and purchase any cookbook she might have written. My quest, at that time, revealed the cookbooks that had inspired her, but none that she had written. In Lessons from the Non-Existent Cookbook, I reflected on those cookbooks that had been pivotal in her development. At the root of these five books were the spiritual values of timelessness, senses, simplicity, integrity, adventure, and technique.

Unlike most people, I do not read cookbooks for the recipes. I read them for the wisdom and the spiritual lessons they offer. My name is not Julia Powell, but I am about to embark on my own series of culinary/spiritual blogs. If this were the first blog in the Alex/Sharon project, it might read something like this:

The Book: “Old School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook.” First edition, 2013. Alex Guarnaschelli. This is not just a cookbook, but also a story about her journey with food, the stories that she recreates in her dishes, and the evolution of her skills and her soul.

The Contender: I am a spiritual partner/director/companion/teacher, adjunct professor in women and gender studies at a local college, and freelance writer/editor/desktop publisher. Rarely able to leave my house, I have turned it into my Ashram and Office. Seeking to learn more from Alex, I am embarking on a challenge to learn more about the spiritual wisdom woven throughout her cookbook and from the preparation and serving of as many of her recipes as I can, given that we rarely eat meats in this household. I am sure my meat-eating friends will be happy for me to cook for them when I get to those chapters.

Unlike Julia Powell, I am not setting a time limit, although my kitchen is not much better then the one she appeared to have in the movie.

So what will I learn? Perhaps I will learn lessons about timelessness, senses, simplicity, integrity, adventure, and technique. Time will only tell. Until next week, we wait patiently while Alex's words and my spirit have a conversation this week.

The Alex/Sharon series. Coming soon to a computer terminal near you.