Ever since they were accused, in a March 13 New York Times article by Julia Moskin, of leaning on ghostwriters to complete their cookbooks, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rachael Ray have been a little testy. They've taken to Twitter and various websites to defend their literary bona fides. Their denials have moved Moskin to admit that the notion of "ghostwriting" she was discussing was editorial as much as it was creative.
That seems not to have been enough for Paltrow and Ray, however. Because today, Paltrow is appearing on Ray's talk show "Rachael" to discuss the issue yet again; the clip is above.
Paltrow -- Skyping in from London -- says that she wrote every single recipe in her cookbooks. "Every single recipe in the cookbook, I came up with and cooked on the spot," she says.
"This is my book, I wrote it, and it's all mine," Paltrow continues.
Ray agrees emphatically, noting that she spends hours working on recipes in her notebooks. She also adds a minor caveat, though, regarding some of the errata in her cookbooks.
"It doesn't mean you don't value the people that write the glossary or that help organize the pantry or that help organize the project," Ray says, "But a writer is still a writer."
We certainly can't dispute the tautology "a writer is still a writer." But it's hard not to wonder where Ray or Paltrow would draw the lines between "writer," "people that write the glossary" and "ghostwriter." And is Paltrow really justified in calling her cookbooks "all mine" while freely admitting to being inspired by restaurant dishes, having other people write her glossary and making her assistant Julie furiously scribble notes while she invents recipes "from scratch" in her luxurious kitchen?
Maybe not. But it also may not matter. As sometime cookbook co-author Andrew Friedman pointed out in a thoughtful blog post this week, cookbooks are almost always the product of some measure of collaboration. "Fans want to experience the personality they adore in the best way possible and couldn't care less who actually wrote it," he writes, "Just as they don't care who writes the script, operates the camera, or does the editing for the personalities' television shows."