essays / food / nonfiction

I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting by Rebecca Harrington


Apparently, I’ll Have What She’s Having is based on a series of articles Rebbeca Harrington wrote in New York Magazine. That explains the choppiness and length of the chapters; they must have just compiled them and bound them.

The premise of the book is cute, she tries various celebrity diets and reports back. Unfortunately, the book falls flat. Harrington rarely actually follows the diet closely or for more than 2-3 days. Some of the “diets” are just culled from various interviews and even within the chapter contradict themselves, some of the diets are very out of date (Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe) and just bizarre. Harrington also doesn’t seem to have a kitchen stocked with even basic equipment like a strainer and she doesn’t buy what she needs even though she buys expensive ingredients like caviar (Jackie O’s diet) and I’m sure the magazine would have subsidized it. This means there are quite a few recipes she cannot make properly. She also could have picked diets that didn’t use items she did not have. It was somewhat grating. She also seems to have no sense of food safety. She leaves a celery loaf (Greta Garbo) in the oven for days and before she throws it out, she eats a bite!? She leaves cabbage soup boiling on the stove and leaves the house. She is constantly dropping things on the floor, spilling things and making her apartment stink. It is pretty gross.

It really could have been a cute book if done properly. Instead, it comes across as an outline of a book dreamed up by a girl living in a dorm room with a hot plate and a need to fit into a dress for a formal.

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