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Wallflower at the Orgy

Wallflower at the Orgy






Pub Date: 
Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group
Summary: The Food Establishment: Life in the Land of the Rising Souffle (Or Is It the Rising Meringue?) One day, I awoke having had my first in a long series of food anxiety dreams (the way it goes is this: there are eight people coming to dinner in twenty minutes, and I am in an utter panic because I have forgotten to buy the food, plan the menu, set the table, clean the house, and the supermarket is closed). I knew that I h...ad become a victim of the dreaded food obsession syndrome and would have to do something about it. This article is what I did. Incidentally, I anticipated that my interviews on this would be sublime gourmet experiences, with each of my subjects forcing little goodies down my throat. But no. All I got from over twenty interviews were two raw potatoes that were guaranteed by their owner (who kept them in a special burlap bag on her terrace) to be the only potatoes worth eating in all the world. Perhaps they were. I don't know, though; they tasted exactly like the other potatoes I've had in my life. September 1968 You might have thought they'd have been polite enough not to mention it at all. Or that they'd wait at least until they got through the reception line before starting to discuss it. Or that they'd hold off at least until after they had tasted the food--four tables of it, spread about the four corners of the Four Seasons--and gotten drinks in hand. But people in the Food Establishment are not noted for their manners or their patience, particularly when there is fresh gossip. And none of them had come to the party because of the food. They had come, most of them, because they were associated with the Time-Life Cookbooks, a massive, high-budget venture that has managed to involve nearly everyone who is anyone in the food world. Julia Child was a consultant on the first book. And James Beard had signed on to another. And Paula Peck, who bakes. And Nika Hazelton, who reviews cookbooks for the New York Times Book Review. And M.F.K. Fisher, usually of The New Yorker. And Waverley Root of Paris, France. And Pierre Franey, the former chef of Le Pavillon who is now head chef at Howard Johnson's. And in charge of it all, Michael Field, the birdlike, bespectacled, frenzied gourmet cook and cookbook writer, who stood in the reception line where everyone was beginning to discuss it. Michael was a wreck. A wreck, a wreck, a wreck, as he himself might have put it. Just that morning, the very morning of the party, Craig Claiborne of the New York Times, who had told the Time-Life people he would not be a consultant for their cookbooks even if they paid him a hundred thousand dollars, had ripped the first Time-Life cookbook to shreds and tatters. Merde alors, as Craig himself might have put it, how that man did rip that book to shreds and tatters. He said that the recipes, which were supposed to represent the best of French provincial cooking, were not even provincial. He said that everyone connected with the venture ought to be ashamed of himself. He was rumored to be going about town telling everyone that the picture of the souffle on the front of the cookbook was not even a souffle--it was a meringue! Merde alors! He attacked Julia Child, the hitherto unknockable. He referred to Field, who runs a cooking school and is author of two cookbooks, merely as a "former piano player." Not that Field wasn't a former piano player. But actually identifying him as one--well! "As far as Craig and I are concerned," Field was saying as the reception line went on, "the gauntlet is down." And worst of all--or at least it seemed worst of all that day--Craig had chosen the day of the party for his review. Poor Michael. How simply frightful! How humiliating! How delightful! "Why did he have to do it today?" moaned Field to Claiborne's close friend, chef Pierre Franey. "Why? Why? Why?" Why indeed? The theories ranged [read more]

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Product Details
Wallflower at the Orgy

ISBN-13: 9780553385052

ISBN: 0553385054

Pub Date:
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
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