A Business Feud of
BY REBECCA HARRINGTON
Did you know? Gwyneth Paltrow and Martha Stewart are having a feud. It’s ok. Not all people know everything. Look, I’ll even explain it. Thanks for asking! Martha was the one who started it. One day in 2013, Martha ran- domly told a magazine, ““[Gwyneth] just needs to be quiet. She’s a mov- ie star. If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn’t be trying to be Martha Stewart.” Gwyneth responded saying, “If I’m really honest, I’m so psyched that she sees us as competition. I really am.” You would think the whole thing would stop there. That was so in- tense right? But no. The whole thing eventually devolved into dueling recipes. First, Martha released a blistering recipe for Conscious Cou- pling Pie–a blatant reference to Gwyneth’s recent divorce !!!!!!!! The description of the pies was especially wild. Just listen to this in- sanity! “Every Thanksgiving table should be blessed with the presence of a long-married pair who bring out the best in each other, are completely enamored despite their differences, and leave every other guest thinking, I’ll have what they’re having. Our holiday pies honor such so there’s a pleasant mix of textures and flavors in every bite.” But Gwyneth couldn’t take it lying down. In her new holiday menu she introduced her Jailbird Cake–a blatant reference to Martha’s jail sen- tence a couple of years ago (!!!!!!) A source from Gwyneth’s camp told People Magazine, “The folks at goop know how to have some fun, too… If Martha served up the appetizer, the Jailbird Cake is just desserts.” Are you being reminded of Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn? Me too! As a lover of business feuds, I immediately became interested in this fight. The problem was my loyalties. They were confused. I love both Martha and Gwyneth. Who was I rooting for? Why were they even fighting? And how was I able to move on without a clear side to take? I decided I needed to figure out who was the winner of this feud, objec- tively, like people did in ancient Rome. I would make a Gwyneth holiday dinner and a Martha holiday dinner and I would have a panel of tasting experts (my friends) come over and decide who made the best meal and therefore was the winner of the feud. It was the only thing to do. Obviously both Gwyneth and Martha have holiday menus. A good life- style guru must have a holiday menu or else how would we know what to do during the holidays? We would just eat bread with nothing on it. Gwyneth’s holiday menu featured Turkey Osso Buco and Parmesan Polenta. If you know Gwyneth like I do, this is a very typical Gwyneth feast. Gwyneth LOVES making normal dinners with lighter ingredients. To wit, osso buco is traditionally made with veal, but Gwyneth switched it to turkey. Like, such a bummer but in another way inventive. For Martha’s holiday menu, I decide to make her Holiday Beef Loin with Rosemary Potatoes. I also decide to make the desserts that started it all–the Jailbird Cake and the Conscious Coupling Pie.
I decide to make the Gwyneth Paltrow menu first. I procure the tur- key legs quite easily (I make this the week after thanksgiving so there are millions of turkey legs flying around) but the “Famous Wafers” for the Jailhouse Cake are a little tougher to find in the grocery store (they are practically hidden on the bottom shelf ). When I finally locate the darn things, I look on the back of the box of the wafers and see that the recipe on the back of their box is practically identical to Gwyneth’s Jailbird Cake recipe. Gwyneth copied this recipe from the back of a “Famous Wafers” box! What a DIG, really, when you think about it. The Turkey Osso Buco was relatively easy to make. There were a mil- lion ingredients but all you had to do was put them in one pot. While the turkey was cooking, I busied myself with the Jailbird Cake. The cake consists of taking whipped cream and spooning it on to overlapping lay- ers of “Famous Wafers.” That’s why it looks like a jail cell. Next, I start on Martha’s menu. The roast is very easy–almost too easy. You just salt the beef and throw it in the oven. It is so simple and austere, just like a poncho Martha knitted in jail. I then start on the Conscious Coupling Pie–a combination of filo dough and chocolate mousse. This is a very confusing recipe. You have to sprinkle the filo dough with a butter sugar mixture and then pour melted chocolate on it. My melted chocolate didn’t really melt and coheres irregularly to the filo dough. My mousse is really watery. It looks like chocolate milk poured onto filo dough. Then I put the whole thing in the refrigerator. Soon, my guests arrive. Some are rooting for Martha and hate Gwyn- eth. Some are rooting for Gwyneth and hate Martha. Some didn’t know that Gwyneth or Martha made food. It was a real mixed bag. The contest started out in a dead heat. Everyone ate the osso buco and loved it—the meat was so melt off the bone no one even cared if it was turkey instead of veal. The polenta was a nice counterpoint to the turkey’s heaviness. However, Martha’s two-ingredient roast was a true wonder. The meat was delicious and perfectly rare. The potatoes were garlicky and delicious. What were we all going to do? It all came down to the desserts, which were harder to judge because of the dreaded scourge of human error. The Coupling Pie was so bad. The melted chocolate solidified, making the pie really hard to cut, plus I for- got to tear some paper off the filo dough. The Jailhouse Cake was good, but it was just cookies and whipped cream and thus less impressive. Who to choose? My friends were no help in the matter at all. One friend declared she liked the osso buco sauce on Martha’s meat. Ultimately, I consider the entire thing a draw. Who knows why powerful CEOs fight? It’s far too complicated for the rest of us to understand.
Rebecca Harrington is the author of I’ll Have What She’s Having. She is a really bad cook.
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