Lead Editorial Innovator, Vocal. Author, critic, friend, parent, cook. New book: Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge. Twitter: @EricaWgnr, Insta: @ericawgnr
Hands-On Pasta in Rome
What could be more blissful than an autumn week spent in Rome? I'll tell you what: learning to cook perfect Roman pasta on a sunny Roman afternoon. I'd come from London to Rome to stroll the ancient city's streets in the company of a dear friend and expert tour-guide, the writer Kate Nicholls, who lives in the Eternal City — Cucina Trastevere, opened just a couple of months before I arrived, happened to be right around the corner from her flat. If you are visiting this extraordinary city, this is an experience not to miss.
Walking into Deep Time
A silver doorknob. Aluminium? I suppose. A little loose, somehow, so it catches when I turn it—but wait, before I turn the knob I’ve got to reach up to the top lock—my mother calls it “the double lock”—and turn its much smaller knob to the right to open it. Now I can turn the doorknob. Now I am pulling open the metal door of my parents’ apartment, now I am stepping across the threshold to see, just to my left, a poster from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Beneath my feet, sturdy brown carpet scrolls all the way down the long hallway to the elevators, fifteen or twenty steps away. A mirror opposite the four lifts, the metal call buttons I still think of as “new”, even though they were installed when I was a teenager. I’m fifty years old now, and my parents have been dead for a dozen years, but their apartment, this hallway, remains—I believe—perfectly contained in my mind and heart, and so in my imagination, I decide to talk a walk, beginning here, in the place I tell myself I still know best.
In my kitchen, Elvira is starting to stretch herself, expand herself, push herself up against the confines of her jar and reach toward the lid settled lightly above her. A few hours ago I took her out of the fridge, added rye flour and water, gave her a gentle stir, and set her on my counter. Now, I peek under her lid to see how she’s getting on. Hey, Elvira, I say. Looks like we’re nearly good to go.
Vanessa Williams Is a Metaphor for Conservative Hypocrisy
Here's a little Jeopardy-style quiz. The category is “Women’s History”—if we agree, just for a moment, that women’s history is different from any other kind of history. So: “Margaret Gorman, a sixteen-year-old from Washington DC, in 1921.” If your answer is “Who was the very first Miss America?” then you win the prize; and you’ll probably know, too, that five years later “the Inter-City Beauty Pageant,” as Miss America had once been called, had come a long way, baby. Miss America 1926, Norma Smallwood, earned $100,000 in appearance fees—more than Babe Ruth made that year, or for that matter the President of the United States. (Who was Calvin Coolidge—but you knew that, I’m sure.)