Ciao'd while NorCali's first rain of the season chases away the pollen. 

When Tom Wolfe coined the term "social x-ray" he was referring to women of a certain age who, by sheer luck and well-honed starvation techniques, put the "skinny" in skinny designer jeans. Literally.

Truman Capote called them “swans.” If you are a Vanity Fair subscriber, you know the swans: Babe Paley, Lee Radziwill, Slim Keith (seriously, even the name?), Marea Agnelli. Nan Kempner was the original social x-ray, though I do not think she was a swan. We can’t have everything now, can we? 

It’s doubtful the x-ray swans exercised as is the norm for women today. They smoked instead. They were soft. They were “skinny fat,” as my husband says. I bet they were bitchy, too.  Who wouldn’t be a bitch when your daily intake consists of 3 lettuce leaves (Iceberg.  It's more water than food.) and an evening martini (with another ciggy).

Now that I have crossed the strait from youth to that certain age, I am even more dazzled by those women. A modern-day bevy of them lives in my town. Some are even my friends. To add insult to injury, these are women older than me who, barring a good soak in the fountain of youth, have most certainly gone through “the change.” Yet they sport svelte carriages and lovely dispositions. They sip chardonnay. Sometimes a lot of chardonnay. I defy you to find a bloated knuckle on their bodies.  

As for me, I finally get why it’s called “the change.” My hips and I have picked up our hate-hate relationship from where we left off freshman-fifteen years ago. I’ve said “hello” to a tummy I haven’t seen since I was pregnant with my son. I can’t jumpstart my metabolism regardless of the weights I do and the dietary measures I take.

I’ve taken to wearing tunics while channeling Diana Vreeland. Capes work, too, though I’ll keep Karl Lagerfeld at bay (He’s French. They like cheese). Would it be so bad to embrace the march of time and settle into this new reality rather than fight the grueling battle of gravity and girth?

I’m a cook. That must count for something. I’ll be Ina (with all due respect and love) rather than Giada (she appears clenched and crabby). I’ll embody the “Two Fat Ladies” (Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson).  They seemed to have a whole lot of fun careening towards the next buttered spatchcock chicken on their Triumph motorbike.

Alas, it’s taxing enough to discipline myself when it comes to relishing life’s riches but it’s even more wearisome to turn my backside to a world gone mad for skinny minnies.

Julia Child said it best (no surprise): “Everything in moderation…including moderation.” Let’s take that advice to heart and share a satisfying yet healthy bowl of Mixed Greens and Rice Soup.  And a hunk of crusty, country bread slathered with creamy butter and crunchy sea salt to go with it.  #dolcevitadelish!



Arborio rice, which imparts risotto with its trademark creaminess, enriches the broth in this satisfying yet healthy soup. Use any greens you have on hand, a mix or a single variety will do just fine.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch chunks
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups mixed greens (about 1 pound), such as Swiss chard, spinach, or escarole, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
Kosher salt
6 cups chicken broth
½ cup rice, preferably Arborio or Carnaroli
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for the table
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat, Add the pancetta and sauté for 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.

Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the greens and a generous sprinkling of salt and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Slowly add the broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and cook until the rice is al dente (firm to the bite), about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve with more Parmesan at the table.

Note: This soup can be prepared a day ahead of serving. If you do this, don’t add the rice until you’re ready to serve it. Bring the soup to a boil, add the rice, and cook until al dente. 


When I landed my first job after college, my dad said, “How are the benefits?” I said, “They’re great. I’m living in New York City. I get to travel. I have a nice cube.”

Of course, my dad was referring to the benefits that didn’t much interest me. Unless I was in a car accident, health insurance was an afterthought. Unless I was in a tragic car accident, life insurance was a non-issue.

Life’s a lot different now...

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