Friday, February 16, 2007


i read that bit of ink in the nyt and thought to myself, is this another incident of hit-and-run misogyny?

anyone who conducts their cooking as a competitive sport[allows it to be a competitive sport] instead of an act of love needs an immediate dose of electro-convulsive therapy.

i grew up in a cooking family. my grandmother, in middle tennessee, was a phenomenal cook. my grandfather, though a country banker, was a phenomenal gardener. the times i spent visiting them were always the best. fresh ingredients lovingly prepared. and everyone had a part in the preparation. from shelling peas, to husking corn, to serving, to cleaning up.

my favorite memory were her breakfasts. my dad and i would go out early in morning with our fly rods and "popper" bugs and catch a mess of bream. after cleaning them, we would bring them back and tennessee grandmother would lightly flour them and pan fry them, with fresh, home-grown tomatoes. accompanied by her biscuits. a great treat.

her daughter, my mom, inherited her receipts. she was a stellar cook. but best at baking. i have never encountered anyone else who had her way with pies. her tour de forces were lemon meringue, and key lime.

my dad, loved good food. whenever we traveled, it was always his mission to find the best restaurant[s] wherever we ended up. and no matter what the expense, try them out.

i have so many fine memories of traveling with him and joining him on his culinary forays. my first and fondest memory is when he took me to nola. in 1958. i was eleven. we started at antoine's. my first oysters. the next night, arnaud's. and then finished up with his favorite, galatoire's. lunch was always felix'es oyster bar.

my dad was one of the masters of caveman cooking. his contribution to the family cooking was the application of the charcoal grill. in 1954, when we were living in OKC, he knew this guy by the name of grant hastings, inventor of the hasty-bake.
after we moved back to ohio, no meat was ever cooked indoors in an oven, in an oven broiler. i have these memories of the two of us standing at the edge of our garage, with snow on the ground, sub-zero weather, grilling lambchops on that barbie.

i became a caveman cook, i suppose, as a result. at harvard, i set up a yugoslavian grill in our fireplace in winthrop house, and we routinely did dinner parties with me grilling the meat, and all the other participants preparing the other ingredients. great fun and such better food than central kitchens offered.

long before alice waters, i had become a bocusian. ingredients were 90% of a successful dish. and simple prep of great ingredients was almost always a killer.

few of my womenfriends cared about cooking. they were more than happy with my performing that chore. and i was grateful that they were willing to perform clean-up.

visiting my sister and her family in LA is always a lot of fun. my nieces love my culinary experiments. my sister is a pretty good cook. but when i am out there visiting, many of the main courses of the meals are turned over to me.

her husband, doesn't care to cook. but what he loves to do is clean-up afterwards. what a great division of labor.

i close with suzanne goins. i encountered her first restaurant, lucques, shortly after its opening. one of the best in california, if not in the usa. i have taken my sister's family there everytime i visit. and i have watched my nieces grow up there. when i first took them there, all they would eat was plain pasta. but they have become quite adventurous. my best memory is the pasta girl deciding to have soft shell crab a couple of years ago. i was going to order it, but i figured that lucy would try it, abandon it, and i would clean up her dish.

boy did i find out how she had grown up in a year. she left me nothing.

suzanne goins is an heiress...the inheritor of paul bocuse, alice waters. ingredients, ingredients, ingredients. melded with some love.

if you are in LA, don't miss this cooking.


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