Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Work it. Own it. Eat it.

I have never really paid too much attention to my fingernails.

But yesterday, of all days, on an unsuspecting Tuesday no less, I suddenly wished I was somebody else entirely, all because of my fingernails.

I have never been a girlie-girl. I hardly wear pink. Shoe shopping makes me want to back away slowly. I believe that salad + Diet Coke is the most frightening comprehensible combination in human existence. Lipstick is for special occasions. And manicures - (shudder) - only when forced.

I keep my nails relatively neat, and polish-free. They are clean and short, but not pretty. Which, to me, has always seemed appropriate for someone who likes to work with food. Like I said, I never paid them too much attention. Yesterday, however, I found myself staring down at my nails with remorse and embarrassment. I have let them get a little too long, I thought. Maybe Photoshop... that could do wonders...

Yesterday, Genny - friend, boss, and food guru extraordinaire - and I went to lunch to celebrate her birthday. I tried to let her choose, being the birthday girl and all, but somehow I ended up steering us toward Shake Shack. Nothing is more soothing to my fear of salads than a hearty dose of beef, melted cheese, fries and chocolate shakes. As we were waiting, we were somewhat distracted by the photographer in the kitchen snapping shots of the food. Must be for their website or something, I mused to myself. We found a table in the very back and had a lovely lunch. Not more than 60 minutes earlier, Genny had painted her nails in preparation for her date later that night at Le Bernardin, and I was pressing her for all the details. "Which tasting menu are you choosing? What wine? What jewelry did you decide to wear with your new dress?" Genny doesn't really consider herself a girlie-girl either, but I knew she had picked out a great dress and cute shoes for her birthday date.

Somewhere between my interrogation and mouthfulls of fries, the aforementioned photographer and his team had made their way through the dining area and sidled up directly across from where we were seated, taking pictures of prop burgers in various poses. We tried to ignore his rear-end encroaching on our personal space as he worked, but it was just too hard not to shrink back a little and laugh. He turned around and introduced himself, and, eyeballing Genny in particular, said he 'noticed our nice fingernails, and smiles, and would we mind posing for a few pictures.' "Well, we like your fingernails," he said to Genny, nodding at her perfectly polished nails in a trendy deep blue shade. I made ashamed little fists under the table.

We were about to just say 'thanks but no thanks,' but curiosity got the better of me (as it often does. Dammit!) and I asked, "What are the pictures for?" The other man who was with the photographer (the Editor, as I later would learn) ever-so-coolly replied, "Saveur Magazine. We're doing a big feature on burgers for an upcoming issue." Before Genny could shake her head one way or the other, I blurted out, "We'll do it!" Genny shot me a look. "Yes. We're doing it. Saveur is one of my favorite magazines." I suddenly didn't care about my unpolished nails. Or rain-styled hairdo. Or lack of makeup. Or ketchup-stained sleeves. If my ugly mitt could be photographed shoving a double-cheeseburger into the lower-half of my lipstick-free face for Saveur Magazine, then count me in. No question.

Of course they shot Genny first, then me. They asked me to hold the burger with only one of my hands - less unpleasantness to potentially have to clean up with Photoshop, I supposed. All we needed to do was hold the massive burger near our smiling face, as if we were about to eat it, while looking up at our friend laughing at us. Which was exactly what was happening anyway.

When our little shoot was over, I was trying to nonchalantly probe the Editor. I confessed that 'Food Magazine Editor' was pretty much my dream job, and I was curious how he got involved in that field. He just shrugged and said he worked at restaurants for a really long time, then worked as a personal chef who wrote a lot of his own recipes. Huh, I thought. Hard work. Persistence. I could do that. For some reason, I thought he might say he was granted 3 wishes by a food-loving magic genie, and that was one of them. Suddenly, after spending the past week not blogging, or even cooking, my faith in myself was restored.

I wouldn't trade me for all the beautiful girlie-girl traits in the world. Besides, if I was going out to lunch for a salad and Diet Coke, I would never have ended up at Shake Shack, posing with a double cheesburger for Saveur Magazine. But I did trim my nails when I got home last night.

I'm not counting on it of course, but just in case, if I happen to see myself in Saveur around August/September getting ready to pound a burger the size of my head, I will certainly let you know.


Nina said...

nice! Can't wait to see you this weekend!

Veronica said...

Yay! I can't wait to see you too! Let me know if there is any kind of food you want and we'll go find it :)

Anonymous said...

Only in New York...though Tim McKee did win a Beard Foundation award for best chef in the Midwest last weekend...just sayin'. Thank God your faith was restored; I ALWAYS have faith in you! Can't wait to see your centerfold! Next time you polish your nails be sure to choose the Ketchup Red!
Love, Mom