Biologically speaking, had it been possible for Martha Stewart and Julia Child to reproduce, I could have easily been their baby.
Not only do I love decorating cakes with freshly sugared violets and consider homemade chicken pot pie to be an aphrodisiac, but I have actually been mistaken for Martha on numerous occasions. The most humorous incident occurred in a quaint seaside town in Rhode Island, but that is, once again, a story for another day.
Now, although I enjoy all things good and aesthetically pleasing, I am no Martha. And I no longer aspire to be. My life lessons have taught me that the quest for perfection keeps us from true contentment and happiness.
I’m proud to say that at this point, I am infinitely more Julia than Martha. Julia would throw the rules out the window, drop the chicken on the floor, laugh at the rubbery baguette, use too much butter, and speak her mind. And she’d do it on national television. She was real. And she was joyful. I miss Julia.
Martha always seems as if she needs a strong cocktail or two to loosen her up. Even after the whole prison thing.
The fact that I am more Julia than Martha was quite apparent one recent evening, as I lay on a hospital table, waiting to have the blood-gushing gash in my left index finger stitched up.
Only 90 minutes earlier, I had been in my kitchen, happily slicing, dicing and dancing to the tunes emanating from my iPod dock. Ophelia, Harold and Charles were playing outside with Boomer, our bunny. It was an idyllic summer evening in Maine, and also the first night all three of my children were together in more than two weeks. This was reason for a celebratory family feast, and I’d stopped at the neighborhood farm on my way home from work to pick up the perfect ingredients: fresh corn, steamers, tiny red potatoes, tender lettuce and a variety of other treats.
This was serious cooking. I had even donned an apron. Although I love to cook, I admittedly don’t do it often. Luckily, my children are now old enough to self-feed.
As I put multiple pots of water on the stove to boil and scrubbed clams, and as my offspring shucked corn out in the yard, I was suddenly overcome by a feeling of awe. This was it. A rare Martha moment. Something worthy of a magazine layout. I grabbed our camera and snapped photos of the perfection that surrounded me.
I then cleared the avalanche of mail off our dining table, lit candles and went back into the kitchen to melt some butter for the steamers: the perfect finishing touch for what would surely be a perfect meal.
And then, whack – I sliced one too many slices from that stick of organic, sweet, creamery butter and the whole thing turned into the shower scene from “Psycho.”
With a beautiful cloth napkin tourniquet tied around my bleeding appendage, I burst outside through the kitchen door to alert my children. I was certain I said I’d cut myself, but apparently wasn’t very concise, as two of my three children later told me that they had thought the house was on fire.
Ophelia (who has her permit) valiantly drove us to a friend’s house, Harold chastised me for using an inappropriate kitchen implement (“You were cutting butter with THAT knife? That’s why they make butter knives”), and Charles, for once, had nothing to say.
The friend drove me to the hospital. By the time the sun had set, I was all stitched up and good to go.
A few hours later, we were back at the scene of the crime. We reheated our dinner. We re-lit the candles. And I finally got to drink the glass of Cabernet I had poured (but hadn’t gotten a sip of) before I maimed myself.
And as I looked around at our bountiful table, and at my children’s faces, glowing in the candlelight, they made a toast: “To mom, our fearless cook.” We laughed and clinked glasses, and I wished their dad were there beside me, to kiss my throbbing fingertip.
And I soaked up the perfection.