CELEBRITY BOOK REVIEW: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Meat Heart
by Courtney Maum
Okay, I wrote a book review. ‘Why?’ you may ask. Well, after the success of my cookbook, “My Father’s Daughter,” (A New York Times bestseller, still can’t believe it!!), I started getting all these cookbooks for review at the Goop office. I really wish there were enough hours in the day for me to share all the wonderful meals my fans are making, but as subscribers to my lifestyle company Goop know, there are not!
I did have time to read one food-related book, however, a little thing called “Meat Heart” with all these cleavers on the front. Mario sent it all the way to London with an orange Post-it that said, ‘Woof.’ (Long story!) Now if there’s anyone with a meat heart, it’s me. Of course, I can’t eat the stuff (too many colonics, a lecture from Leo — another, longer story!), but when it comes down to it — really — I do have meat at heart. My father’s favorite food was hot dogs, so… you know.
You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that “Meat Heart” isn’t a cookbook, it’s a book of poems. (Poetry sent to me by Mario Batali? Double swoon!) It’s written by a woman named Melissa Broder, who must be my gastronomic doppelgänger because we have exactly the same thoughts. For instance, in a poem called “Money Honey” (Love the title, LOL) the character has strawberry candles and peanuts for dinner. Weirdly enough, strawberry candles and Georgia peanuts were exactly what I craved when I was pregnant with Moses. In another poem, Melissa talks about experiencing ascension through sweetbreads. I mean, I’m with you Broder. Sweetbreads are a religion unto themselves! One time, late night at El Bulli, Ferran Adria made Chris and me sweetbreads after a Coldplay concert, and Chris said, “This is like an NDE.” (Near Death Experience, natch.) And I agreed!
Melissa also shares my concerns in the lifestyle department. This is from a poem called “Gate 27”: “Customer service ate Burger King French Fries, applied Nivea hand cream. It’s easy to get irate.” It is easy to get irate, but you can always bring a batch of homemade chia seed bites and a travel-sized bottle of organic argan oil on any flight instead of using/eating crap! Chia seeds are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and argan oil boosts skin collagen levels, so you’re sure to arrive with your skin hydrated and plumped. People are so quick to reach for brand name products and pre-made foods, when really, with a little planning, you can find happiness and health in your own home! Plus, making your own snack foods is such a fun way to spend quality time with your family, especially if you have children, and/or an outdoor pizza oven. (I’m super lucky to have both!)
In terms of gastronomy, it’s pretty clear that Melissa understands the sensual side of food. Some of her poems are downright hot. And although I personally don’t eat or touch red meat, I’ve always had respect for people who understand the power of food to connect, inspire, and sometimes, turn us on. (For those of you who have had the Blowfish at Nobu, you know what I’m saying. 😉 )
Towards the end of the book, things got kind of gloomy. “Face up, spacegirl, you’re lonely,” writes Melissa. “You’ve not been felt in centuries.” Thanks to the best masseuse in the nation (see my Goop post, under “Be”), I don’t have that problem, but still, I feel like Broder understands what it feels like when people don’t appreciate what you cook. Happily, Apple came to macrobiotics on her own, but I can’t get the men in my family to see the veggie light. I don’t know whether or not Melissa is a vegan, but clearly, she’s a wife:
(From “Steak Night”):
In husbandland I am made
of hamburger, eggs and potatoes
the husband is absent
my marriage dress hangs
by the stove.
I put me in my mouth
to taste patty melts
stripey fats and underblood
juicy dregs for geraniums.
I could let drops
and grow victory gardens
might I cleave a piece to suck?
O the eggs are growing old
or else they’re growing lungs.
I’m a flexitarian. Vegetables daily, beige meat once a year. But my personal distaste for meat products doesn’t mean that I shy away from succulent language, nor from “stripey fats.” That’s why I was so pleased to sink my teeth into the tasty words of “Meat Heart.” A delightful reading experience: titillating, provocative, and totally gluten free!
by Melissa Broder
— Courtney Maum is a fiction writer based in between the Berkshires of Massachusetts and New York City. Her work has recently appeared online in Tin House, Blip, The Rumpus, Vol.1, Anderbo and others. A frequent reader at NY-based series and a Literary Death Match champion, she’s currently working on a collection of comic fiction. Find her on Twitter at @cmaum.
Editor’s note: Any resemblances to actual celebrities — alive or dead — are miraculously coincidental. For more Celebrity Book Reviews, click here.