Welcome, Amanda Hesser!

Ms. Hesser was recently named one of the 50 most influential women in food by Gourmet.

A longtime food writer for the New York Times, Amanda has written more than 750 stories, created the columns Food Diary and Recipe Redux, and was the food editor at the Times Magazine. She has written the award-winning books Cooking for Mr. Latte and The Cook and the Gardener, and edited the essay collection, Eat, Memory. Her latest book, a New York Times bestseller and the winner of a James Beard award, is The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

I started reading Food52 two years ago, when the white gazpacho recipe took my breath away. Since then, I’ve often returned to her commentary on the site she co-founded, and I’ve enjoyed seeing the online community develop into a serious go-to for foodies.

Her “Week in Culture” in Paris Review’s Culture Diaries was a delicious glimpse into her wit and curiosity.


11:00 A.M. Paris Reviewers: You may want to sit down for this, or drink a few stockpiled Four Lokos. I am about to rock your world with a schizophrenic, middlebrow, totally aimless, and mostly pointless cultural hodgepodge.”

After reading it, I understood Hesser’s about food writing was coming from a culture adventurer who delighted in mash-ups of experiential anecdotes of cuisine and lifestyle habits. Does that make sense? She writes about food in a way that you understand she is writing about life.

I mean, to introduce mousse, she can’t help but let you know that mousse was a very sexy word in the 1960’s. And then she has to admit that indeed, still, it continues to be.
From culture diary…”Late, late: Realized that I fell so far behind on the Wikileaks hullabaloo that I have no idea where to begin: Analysis? Original breaking story? Instead, look at photos of Brad Pitt’s leather pants on HuffPo. He really should not wear leather pants.”

I am so honored to host Ms. Hesser in the Studiola this week! I’ve been breakfasting on smelly cheese with cantaloupes in the mornings and eating drippingly ripe plums over the kitchen sink in preparation. And I’ve decided to follow her advice to eat the most of my food early in the day: thus, steak, bread and tapenade for lunch, and olive, onion, orange salad for dinner.

Nola Studiola Question One: What makes you laugh?

AH: A lot. Absurdity. Often my own. I laugh as easily as I stress out, which makes for rollercoaster days.
And so here are Funny (depending on your sense of humor) Tuesday Overheards, collected over the past three days from three different coffeeshops, dedicated to Ms. Hesser, modeled on the “Overheard” column of Gorgeous and Sassy, a humor blog co-written by upcoming Studiola visitor Christianne Sanchez.

I love Brer Fox.

Wait—you do teach science at your school, right? (Lady on an interview.)

This better be for me. (Small child sitting at a table full of adults who are about to open a present.)

-Oh, God—you know that kid is going to be that kid when he grows up.

-No…I don’t know…what kid..?

-You know, the kid who laughs really loud—

-Oh, yeah. Ha, ha.

-Nooo, I wasn’t finished. The kid who laughs really loud and, the thing is, he’s funnier than what he’s laughing at.

-Oh. Right. Ha.

Get out of the street, baby! (Man weaving in traffic on bike, running a red light while I crossed the street.) Ok, fine! Fuck you! (Twenty seconds later, after he turned down another street, when I completed crossing.)

Dancing is my passion. I grew up dancing. So, teaching was the natural progression from that.

Gee, let us ask you again: why are you so tired?

Well, pool-soaked money isn’t so bad. Yesterday a lady gave me a handful of singles from her sweaty running shorts.

I would never do that to someone’s stuff. I mean, I can see that you might be on one person’s side, but still. No. That’s just wrong.

Oh, that’s easy! Get bar stools from IKEA! There’s an IKEA in Baton Rouge. Yep. (pause) Well, or Houston. Whichever. (Only funny if you intimately know the difference between Baton Rouge and Houston.)

Salmon, parsnips! Sarah’s housesitting uptown, so she can actually do stuff now.


Over and out, peeps! Have a great fourth of July!

About alison barker