I recently read Insatiable:Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess by Gael Greene. Greene served as New York Magazine’s ‘Insatiable Critic’ for more than thirty years. The memoir encompasses Greene’s exciting and glamorous career: cooking and wine tours in France, access to the world’s best restaurants, recipes skimmed off the top of top chefs’ repertoires. Its all about food and…other appetites. Greene’s need for immediate gratification in every sense both mystified and mortified me.
My boyfriend (jokingly?) calls me a prude. The truth is, I’ve never been one for vulgarity. I developed the automatic reflex of pointing my pinky finger in the air while drinking from a glass somewhere between elementary school and braces. I cringe at dirty jokes; I’m offended by movies that use the “gross out factor” to deceive ignorant audiences into believing that they’re enjoying comedy. That doesn’t mean I can’t drink like a trucker, swear like a sailor, [insert other applicable similes here]. My life is a blurry and fine line, apparently.
As much as I appreciate Greene’s book, mainly her vivid and mouth-watering descriptions of food, restaurants, and food travel, the rest is, well, quite candid. In the first chapter, twenty-something Greene attends an Elvis concert, then talks her way into his hotel room. There, after a quickie, Elvis asks Greene to call room service for a fried-egg sandwich. Later in her career, Greene ever so fortunately has the opportunity to “interview” both Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood. Greene carries on a series of affairs through the years…chef after chef, restaurateurs, even a porn star. All under the guise of exploring new tastes, immediate gratification, and in my opinion, addiction. All carried on while married (to obviously, the biggest schmuck that ever lived).
Every woman who loves food and who has experienced physical and emotional “love”with another undoubtedly has found herself connecting the two. Thriving, nurturing relationships lead to dinner dates for two, home-cooked meals, menus devoted to aphrodisiacs. Break-ups lead to deprivation and the “I’m going to get sexy again, hit the bars and meet someone else” mantra that everyone has practiced. Obviously, there’s a connection here. Pleasure can be found in both food and sex, so why not combine the two? But Greene’s philosophies take this idea to an extreme. Should marriage/long term relationships be sacrificed for pleasure’s sake? Can someones life be measured in the number of affairs they have, or the number of dishes they try? If food and love are so closely linked by pleasure, can they ever be distinguished?
Finally, how is Gael Greene not walking around weighing 500 pounds, with every STD known to man??