Plus, we honored musicians whose rebellious spirits are their trademark, paid homage to a few of our favorite groundbreaking visual artists, and mused on everyone from Isadora Duncan and Rei Kawakubo to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Anne of Green Gables.
The Role Models: Childhood Literary Protagonists
Dear Judy, I don’t know where I stand in the world. I don’t know who I am. That’s why I read, to find myself. Elizabeth, age 13
Judy Blume would love her censors to consider letters like this. Because while her coming-of-age tales have sold more than 82 million copies since 1970—and many couldn’t imagine adolescence without the relief of Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret or Blubber, mirrors that they were of our own private truths—Blume’s work still landed on banned lists. Though that, as any preteen will attest, only ups its appeal. As a kid, books were a wormhole into other worlds; reading, an activity that felt like a secret gift. We discovered heroines like Miyax and Claudia Kishi, Sara Crewe and Mary Lennox; and saw the girls we were and the women we wanted to become. Here, we honor a few with recipes—savory date balls, pesto-slicked kelp noodles, a carrot skillet cake, and an over-the-top meringue—that, much like these protagonists, will capture your imagination.
The Visionaries: Film Directors
“It is true that I passed for a phenomenon,” wrote Alice Guy-Blaché, the first female director (she worked on 700 plus films from 1896-1906) in her memoirs. A century later, the role remains more phenomenon than constant: According to San Diego State University’s Celluloid Ceiling report, only 7% of the top 250 grossing films in 2016 had female directors. Movies serve as escape but also education, teaching us new visual languages and ways of existing in the world. And if film and culture reside in a feedback loop, there must be parity in the position of influencer. Our menu—a slim farinata; a rosy, radicchio salad; a vinegar-doused fish; and delicate éclairs—is a tribute to women who broke through. Their films are not “women stories,” they are stories told by women, and we need more of them.
The Originals: Creative Muses
The muses of Greek mythology were the nine sister goddesses of libidinous old Zeus and Mnemosyne, each one assigned an area of art or science to preside over. Understood as a source of inspiration or guiding genius, a muse need not imply a passive exchange: they aren’t women acting merely in faculty of a man’s creative output. The muses we’ve chosen are, in our mind, not static figures, but women whose spirit, style, and smarts have helped them transcend the artists they are associated with and the era in which they emerged; whose fierce originality has made them endure in our collective consciousness as much as the paintings or poems or songs they inspired. Our amuses—smoked oyster bites, balsamic figs, dusted popcorn, braided cheese straws, and a golden nut bar—will command your attention as much as these women have.
The Mavericks: Television Idols
“She said ‘kid, that’s when they put the S on the end of my name,” recalled Carol Burnett on PBS’s Pioneers of Television, of a comment her friend Lucille Ball made about becoming the boss on The Lucy Show, her first solo venture after parting ways from Desi Arnaz. Burnett would follow in Ball’s trailblazing footsteps and there would be more to come: Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols, the first African-American woman in a major role in 1966; Joan Rivers, host of one of the first syndicated talk shows in 1968; and Mary Tyler Moore, the first single working-woman protagonist in 1970. We paid homage to a few rule-skirting and rabble-rousing TV characters who captured our hearts and minds with a menu—quickie eggs; yellow lentil sliders; black garlic butter steak; a decadent cookie and spiked slushie—that’s as maverick as they are.
Cover: Photograph by Gentl and Hyers, Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero, Prop Styling by Ayesha Patel