Commentary: Paltrow put-down

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Normally, trusting New York City’s leading tabloid to convey anything approximating hard news would be a dicey venture. In fact, as many residents of the Big Apple would tell you, the preferred way to scan The New York Post is to read it over someone else’s shoulder on the subway, without actually having to purchase what many consider little more than a glorified gossip rag.

But when it comes to in-depth coverage of the rich and famous, the newspaper’s unsurpassed. Thus, its account of a celebrity “encounter” in The Hamptons this week can be considered accurate, if likely somewhat sensationalized. Here’s the scenario, as the newspaper reported in Tuesday’s online edition:

“Gwyneth Paltrow was a huge draw at East Hampton Library’s Authors Night—but also drew the ire of her fellow writers, who took their revenge with pungent meat products.”

As the story noted, Paltrow attended the event with her rock star husband Chris Martin, a member of the British band Coldplay, along with her two children Moses and Apple.

A little background here. As even most casual moviegoers know, Paltrow is a well-established actress (and wanna-be singer) who garnered critical acclaim for her performance in the 1998 film “Shakespeare in Love,” for which she won a Best Actress Oscar. Her major starring roles occurred in other Brit-inspired projects, such as “Great Expectations” and “The Royal Tenenbaums.”

For the last 10 years, however, her acting career has languished a bit, with only her appearances as a secondary character in the blockbuster “Iron Man” series and in “The Avengers” keeping her from falling off the Hollywood radar.

Nevertheless, Paltrow has a huge following of fans who love her winsome looks and stick-figure fashions, although for me—no reflection on her acting talent—the defining achievement of her career occurred in 2006, when she was named the celebrity spokesperson for the Korean fashion brand Bean Pole International.


Despite being a self-proclaimed vegetarian—she’s the ideal demographic: young, white and female—Paltrow is better known for her whacky dietary recommendations and a, shall we say, “quirky” take on life.

For example: Asked about her daughter Apple’s unusual name, she reportedly told Oprah that, “It sounded so sweet and it conjured such a lovely picture for me—you know, apples are so sweet, and they’re wholesome and it’s biblical.”

Uh, no offense, Ms. Paltrow, but have you actually read the passage in Genesis where an apple is prominently mentioned? I wouldn’t characterize that Garden of Eden event as “sweet and wholesome.”

Just sayin’.

Embracing detoximania

Even more far-fetched than her (alleged) vegetarianism, though, is her obsession with “dietary detox” regimens. In fact, the so-called Master Cleanse Detox she claims she tried (and which she said left her “hallucinating after 10 days”), requires limiting “food” intake to water with lemons, laxative tea and salt water. However, she was quoted as warning that, “Weight loss may occur from this diet, but it’s mainly from loss of water, not from fat loss.”

Wow. Thanks for that burst of insight.

Given her dietary extremes, it’s not surprising that in a review of her co-authored cookbook, “It’s All Good,” Paltrow admitted to feeling fatigued and faint last spring. She attributed it to a “particularly grueling schedule and a lapse of overindulgence.” However, a visit to her doctor revealed that she was “anemic, vitamin D deficient and that her stress levels were sky high.”

The solution? A detox diet! No coffee, no alcohol, no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, no shellfish, no deep-water fish, no wheat, no meat, no soy, nothing processed at all. The review noted that, “After changing her diet, Paltrow healed totally, felt more energetic and looked great!”

I guess it worked for her, but she admitted that “so many restrictions would make mealtime boring.” So, as the publisher’s blurb for her cookbook noted, “Together with Julia Turshen, she compiled a collection of 185 delicious, easy recipes that followed her doctor’s guidelines.”

Which must mean her veggie-only days are behind her, because It’s All Good prominently features such entrées as Chicken Burgers, Italian-Style Fish Fingers, Salmon Burgers with Pickled Ginger and Japanese Chicken Meatballs. So much for her avowed abhorrence of eating animal foods.

Now, back to the dust-up in The Hamptons, in which said animal food plays a starring role.

Waiting for Gwyneth

Seated next to Paltrow at the book-signing was author and humorist Christina Oxenberg, who was there to sign copies of her book “Life Is Short.” As she wrote on her blog, “Slowly yet unmistakably a line began to form in front of my section of table. These folks were hushed and reverential and had a particularly earnest and focused demeanor and casting furtive eyes around. The increasingly urgent question they posed, ‘Where is Gwyneth?’

“Then, the divinity in question arrived with hubby, children and a couple of massive bodyguards,” her post continued. “The worshippers blocked my view of the whole world.”

Oxenberg said she abandoned her spot and headed to the food table, where she loaded up on “sloppy hamburgers” and “stinky steak sandwiches,” according to The Post. However, she wrote that “Gwyneth’s bodyguards blocked my re-entry, despite my assurance I was just an author and pointing at my name tag. ‘No!’ they growled, body blocking me. So I was forced to crawl under the table.”

According to her account, Oxenberg then “Sat there with my meat products, wafting the excellent smells toward my sleek vegan neighbor.”

That attempt at culinary envy was lost on Paltrow, though. “She ignored the siren smells of protein,” Oxenberg wrote. “We never did say hello, although I did try to sell my book to her sleek vegan children. No bites.”

But a few laughs, I’m sure.

Which is more than Paltrow’s recent movie appearances have provided.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.

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