Alyssa Shelasky onApron Anxiety, Her Memoir (With Recipes)

How everything you make, even burnt carrots, can be something beautiful.

How My First Book Is A Burnt Purple Carrot, And Both Are Beautiful To Me
by Alyssa Shelasky

On a raw night in February, I ordered a peppermint tea in a bright Greenwich Village diner and unwrapped a bound galley of my book, Apron Anxiety.

It was the first time I saw how everything came together – from the cover selection, to the blurbs on the back, to my 80,000–something words. Oh, those words! The words that were my core being for an entire year straight! Just touching the pages was surreal. I started to cry.

And then I laughed. Because as I read the story, as a girl sitting in a diner, not an author wrestling with “her art,” this cool-looking paperback was actually funny and touching! I sailed through the first chapters, oblivious to anything around me, but absolutely beaming.

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That’s when it hit me. I loved my book. If anybody thought otherwise – and of course, some would – that was his or her business. But I was really proud of it, comfortable with it. And moving forward, that has made all the difference.

I thought of this recently when asked if I get nervous cooking for other people, another action that begs judgment and criticism. Turns out, just like writing, if I make food that I like and believe in, I’m totally fine with whatever happens.

Last week, I had to feed 15 friends, including a journalist who was reporting on my cooking skills. Just as everyone sat down, I realized that I burnt my heirloom carrots, which I worked so hard to find in purple and now were . . . black.

As I brought the platter to the table, I pushed back my hair, brightened my eyes, and presented my crispy mistake with love: “These look perfect.”

ALYSSA SHELASKY is the New York editor of Grub Street at New York magazine, as well as the creator of the blog Apron Anxiety. She has written for numerous publications including People, Us Weekly, Hamptons Style, Gotham, Self, Blackbook, TV Guide, The New York Post, New York magazine, CBS's Watch magazine, and Glamour magazine.  

About Kira Walton

Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.