When the May issue of Bon Appetit arrived in my mailbox last month I couldn’t wait to rip it open. The tempting cover featured a big bowl of silky pasta al pomodoro that sent me into a craving tailspin. Adam Rapaport, the magazine’s new editor, was off to a delicious start.
Yet when the June issue of Bon Appetit arrived several days ago I almost threw it across my kitchen. What a difference a month makes. The cover also featured a big bowl of silky pasta, along with Gwyneth Paltrow, who seemed to have made the spaghetti she was about to enjoy. What was a person doing on the cover of a food magazine? And why did it have to be Gwyneth? Ugh.
What is it about GP that made me react so violently? She seems perfectly nice. I thought she was great on her recent Glee spree, she appears to love her kids and rock star husband and, most importantly, she’s never done anything to me. So what’s my problem? I suppose if I were honest with myself I’d just say I’m jealous. There is so much to be jealous of (see above list and add rich, Oscar winner and wears clothes like no one else). In fact, I’d say she has quite enough going for her and frankly I don’t understand why she couldn’t just be satisfied with her current state of success. Being a Vanity Fair, In Style and Vogue cover-girl isn’t enough for her? She also had to write a best-selling cookbook and grin from the pages of Bon Appetit? Give it a rest Gwynnie! (Again with the hostility.)
But here’s the thing about Gwyneth; she seems to strike a chord with almost every woman I know. I have one friend who refuses to see any film she’s in on the basis of her being in it. I have another who relishes tales of GP’s mean-girl high-school antics that she’s heard from friends of friends of friends. Another searches supermarket tabloids for signs of non-existent cellulite in grainy photos taken of Gwyneth frolicking in the sands of Barbados with her kids. Could we all be green eyed monsters? Waiting for our moment of schadenfreude? I hope not. It’s not nice to begrudge the success of a sister. I guess it’s just that she seems to have won the game of life and it would be nice if more people felt like winners. (And not in the creepy Charlie Sheen sense.)
Gwyneth has been on a publicity tear since her cookbook, My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family and Togetherness hit the shelves. And given the changing of the guard at Bon Appetit I can kind of understand why they would want to shake things up with a controversial cover. (I know, this is all ridiculous when put in the larger context of what is going on in the world but your computer didn’t rest on this page because you want me to discuss tornadoes or the Middle East.) And no, controversial is not an overstatement. I am a Facebook “fan” of Bon Appetit and as soon as the Gwyneth issue hit the stands the comments were flying. A sampling:
I have every Bon Appetit Magazine from the past 5 years on a shelf in my living room. This month’s magazine with Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover is going straight in the trash. I subscribed to a food magazine, not Redbook or People. This amounts to nothing more than a promotion for her book. Please never put a living thing on the cover of your magazine again. Or Gwyneth Paltrow. Thanks.
I have subscribed to Bon Appetit since I was 15 back in 1985. NEVER has the cover of your magazine ever upset me. Gwyneth Paltrow? Seriously? I love the art of food... NOT celebrity. So she published a cookbook. BFD. There are REAL chefs who deserve this honor - living and posthumously before she does! Even then, the dishes are the star of the magazine. Why sell out now? Things that desperate there? I'd never display this issue on my kitchen counter like I have past ones. Awful guys... Don't do this again. PLEASE!
Really? You put HER on the cover? I tore it off and threw it out. She is not welcome in my home.
As you can see I am not alone in my violent urges. But really, it does seem a bit much, right? Such venom and so much time invested in complaining. Reading the rest of the comments gave me that sick feeling I get whenever I take an adult education class and look at all the other losers in the room. What separates me from them? Um, nothing. I don’t want to be the kind of woman with so much time on her hands that she reacts to magazine covers in the first place, certainly not publicly. Joining in on the Gwyneth hate-fest? I’ll pass, especially because some of the recipes look really good. Although I do take issue with her grilling halibut in short shorts mere inches from the raging fire of her professional grade oven. That’s just dangerous. No, I didn’t buy her book but curiosity got me Googling and reading the Amazon excerpt and before I knew it I wanted to make several things.
Gwyneth’s love for her late father is known to anyone who knows about this stuff. She speaks about him adoringly whenever she is given the opportunity and you have to respect a daddy’s girl. (At least I do, since I am one.) However, I feel a little bad for her mother. If I were Blythe Danner I might be wondering where I fit in this patriarchal love affair and why I wasn’t being more acknowledged. When I was a kid our apartment was two blocks from the Paltrow’s house and our local pizza parlor hung Blythe’s head-shot prominently over their giant ovens. Kind of ironic that she was the one in the kitchen, figuratively speaking.
Anyway, with all the press Gwyneth has been doing I didn’t have to do too much internet fiddling to find a recipe that appealed to me. And wouldn’t you know it was one attributed to her mother. These blueberry muffins are bursting with fruit, which is the way I like them. They couldn’t be easier—gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry, fold in the berries and bake. They’re fluffy and just rich enough to be delicious but not so buttery to be mistaken for a cupcake. They’re perfect for the upcoming long weekend and any house guest you deem worthy of a freshly baked breakfast. Although the lemon zest was my little twist I really recommend it—blueberries and lemons are very good friends. Best of all, their sweet, fruity scent broke my Gwyneth-envy spell and I have decided not to waste my time on pointless jealousy. Unless of course she winds up on the cover of Food and Wine. In that case, all bets are off.
No More Gwyneth Envy Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness, Gwyneth Paltrow 2011
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1 stick butter, melted and just cooled
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of one lemon
One pint of fresh blueberries (about 2 1/4-2 1/2 cups)
Preheat oven to 375. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
In a medium bowl or measuring cup whisk melted butter, eggs and milk.
In large bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and zest.
Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir just to combine. Do not over-mix.Gently fold in berries. Don't worry if some break.
Using standard ice cream scoop, portion out generous scoops into each muffin cup.Bake 25-30 minutes until tops are golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool slightly and serve warm or at room temp.
Yield: 12 muffins