"Look, no offense, but chances are your sautéed mushrooms aren't very good."
I respect that sort of approach. In "How to Sear and Saute Mushrooms," Lam breaks down for us the things we do wrong when we cook mushrooms, and how to do it right. The technique seemed surefire, so I was on board immediately. But it was Lam's style that made this post memorable for me, caused me to seek it out last night as I was going through my mental salmon/olives/mushrooms/tomato selection process. The way Lam speaks directly and makes gentle fun of the reader: hot. But the way he sprinkles in things like "I might as well baby them with some sweet, touching caresses beforehand, too": doubly hot.
And so I cooked Francis Lam's mushrooms, using two pans so as not to crowd them, turning up the heat so high it's a miracle my smoke alarm didn't go off, and no doubt making the neighbors salivate with the smell. And you know what? They were the best mushrooms I've ever made, hands down. They were meaty, full of smoke and flavor, and begged for red wine.
Not one to disappoint the perfectly cooked mushrooms, I got after the wine a little bit, and in my night of going solo did what any self-respecting girl does on rare night home alone: watched chick flicks*.
Let's talk about Joan Allen for a minute here. This woman can do no wrong in my eyes. Didn't she scare the hell out of you in Nixon? Didn't she impress the hell out of you in The Contender? Didn't she woo the hell out of you in Off The Map? I thought so. This woman is a force. I love her role choices (The Ice Storm to the Bourne franchise?), I love her intelligence, I love her face. How fitting, then, that'd she play the woman with my all-time favorite face: Georgia O'Keeffe.
I love O'Keeffe's handsomeness. I love the lines in her face, the strength implied in it. Years ago at a photography exhibit of her life at the O'Keeffe Museum, I marveled at that face for what felt like hours. The grin on the back of a motorcycle, riding through the desert. The smirk that seems to carry a secret message just for you. The wise eyes, sizing up her work. The humbled eyes, unable to size up the vastness of the high desert. Maybe it's because I look the opposite of O'Keeffe in so many ways - I curve where she stretches straight across, my cheekbones have never quite seen the light of day, whereas hers could cut glass, she shrouded herself in black while I blanket myself in color, I could go on here - but looking at O'Keeffe, that face is the embodiment of being a wise woman to me. It's the look I'd love to have as a fierce old broad with a big laugh doing whatever the hell I please.
And that's the other thing about O'Keeffe that gets me: her commitment to a place I love so much, her inability to get it out of her system, her eventual decision to give herself over to a place. I cherish my five years in New Mexico as a sacred time - full of mistakes and hilarity and growth, but in so many ways the best time I've ever had. I know I left at the right time for me, but I'm only now realizing the extent of what it means to carry it with me always, wherever I go. O'Keeffe understood this about New Mexico.
So Joan Allen as Georgia O'Keeffe, then? It works. And yes, it's a Lifetime movie, whatever. It's available on Netflix. I admit to wishing there was a Part II - to forget Stieglitz and New York and to just stay in New Mexico with her friends, to be with her in her favorite place a while, to relish in this thing I like to imagine we share.
As a girl power signoff, I offer the painting at the O'Keeffe Museum that always stops me in my tracks. It's "The Blue Flower," and in person it looks like it should be made of velvet. I'll let you interpret as you will.
Note to Self: Need to get serious about booking a trip back to New Mexico.
*In my liberal interpretation of "chick flicks," I'm counting a Georgia O'Keeffe biopic and a documentary about industrial design. It takes a lot to make me watch a rom-com. Like, one or more characters from my fantasy island and no small amount of witty banter.