In stepped raw foods. I was with my little man at the library, browsing through the cookbook section. I came across a book, which I have now bought for my own personal collection, titled, "Living Raw Foods" by Sarma Melngailis. She and her main squeeze, a James Beard Award winner, had opened a raw foods Pure Food & Wine in NYC in a time when they, too, were getting laughed out of rooms about their concept, but they continued nonetheless, and their endeavor was a smashing success. By the time that her solo book project was published, she and her man had split; he went off to do his own things, and she kept the restaurant. She didn't have a background in the food industry as extensive as his by any means; she'd been involved in the world of finance and entered culinary school on a whim a few years prior. It didn't matter--her restaurant kept climbing in prestige in NYC, with an extensive clientele, including my all-time crush Owen Wilson, and a staff that was truly her family. She literally had it all in the eyes of most people, but you can sense through her cookbook her more personal side, and the pressure and loneliness that came with trying to juggle life in her position.
Fast-forward a few years later, and she meets a new man and falls in love. I can't speak from first-hand observations, but from reading everything I can find about this subject, he manipulated her business out of everything, and eventually he took her on the lam because she was in severe debt, not just to her investors, but also to her employees. He was a gambling addict, a masochist who'd underhandedly stripped Pure Food & Wine of all its cash flow. The more I read between the lines, the more I could relate to her story. There are certain actions and gaslighting techniques that narcissistic sociopaths use to take advantage of people with big hearts, trusting spirits, and loneliness; and they look for someone that has something they want for themselves. Sarma fell prey to one of these types of people, no doubt.
I remember thinking how horrible it must be to be her, to fall so far from the top; but to lose respect in the eyes of people, whether they be friends, acquaintances, or strangers--that was even worse. There's nothing like knowing what's being said and reported about you, with people mocking your pain, and you not being able to explain or defend yourself--especially after being gaslit for a good amount of time, because honestly, you don't even know what you think about yourself anymore after a situation like that. And you really can't judge until you've been there, which I wouldn't wish on my own worst enemies.
So, now Ms. Melngailis is going to spend a little time up-river, and I absolutely hate that for her, because I've faced a lot of time (that I thankfully, didn't have to do more than those days I spent waiting for bail), and there's nothing more excruciating every night than going to bed and knowing that in a short amount of days, your access to sunlight and the touch of those closest to you could be no more. I'm hoping that the prosecution will have a heart, some common sense, and a even a little sympathy, and just let her go already. She's been through enough with the years of abuse she went through in that relationship to last a lifetime.
On one hand, I can totally feel her pain. A lot of her situation with the ex-husband mirrors my own past problems. On the other hand, this is probably a test to see what she's made of--and if you can survive a narcissistic sociopath, you're stronger than you realize. When she gets out, I hope she'll rise to the occasion, hug her beloved rescue dog, and set out to conquer whatever her next passion is (hopefully more beautiful raw cuisine). She was an inspiration to me, and I fell in love with book and her food during a time I needed it, and at a time her arrest was being made just hours from my hometown--all the while being unaware that any of that was happening. Had she not written the most amazing book on raw foods, I'd probably never have followed the passion I have now. I'm bringing the most beneficial cuisine, both in taste and in health, to a place where nobody thought a business like this would survive. I only have Sarma to thank for the inspiration that put me on this path. Until next time, Eat Raw, Live Long!