Ruth Harkness is best known as the woman who brought (hand-carried) the first giant baby panda to the United States. But Ruth was also an adventuress of the table. Here she tells of a meal one might consider . . . excessive . . .
I think that in all my explorations of eating by far the most extravagant was the winter in which I ate an estimated ten thousand dollars’ worth of rare pheasants. At least, after the expression of astonishment finally faded from the face of Robert Bean, curator of birds and mammals for the Chicago Zoological Society, when I told him about the tragopans, Lady Amhersts, and impeyans, and others the names of which I did not know, that had been served to me by my Chinese cook, he said, “Well, if they could have been brought to Chicago, I think ten thousand would have been a modest price for them.”
But of that there could have been no possibility, because the scene of my solitary banqueting was in far Western China in the Tibetan foothills, where I spent a winter in a crumbling old lamasery from which all the monks had fled during the rout of the defeated Chinese Communist armies. And war raged over China, so that travel with or without pheasants was well-nigh impossible. Besides which, any fancier of pheasants will tell you that these birds, which live at altitudes of 8,000 feet and more, are most difficult to transport alive from their mountains.
To read this story in full, go to Gourmet archives 1944
“It is not really an exaggeration to say that peace and happiness begin, geographically, where garlic is used in cooking.” This is Marcel Boulestin’s claim. We’ll see about that – in this early story by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Annie Proulx.
Sometime back in the early ’30s my uncle Hubert finished his internship at one of the smaller hospitals in Poughkeepsie, New York, took a pretty young wife, Sophia, and set up practice in his mother-in-law’s rambling house on Garvin Street. His mother-in-law, whom everybody called Auntie Bella, was a formidable woman. She was, in the first place, large—not merely plump, not fat only, but tall, large-boned, and heavy-fleshed. She had a booming bass voice with which she sounded all her opinions to anyone who would listen. If no one would, she told her marvelous tales of the evil eye and of the time her cousin Giuseppe was robbed by bandits to the four cats who were constantly stalking in and out of the kitchen. The cats were swollen with pride and with tasty tidbits that Auntie Bella was always feeding them—a little dab of chicken cooked in a red sauce, for instance. “Here, cat … good, no?” And the cat would purr, gobble down the last shred, and stare greedily into the empty dish.
Continue reading ‘The Garlic War’ in Gourmet Magazine, 1964.
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is known to those who’ve read her as the writer who ‘created’ modern American foodwriting – or at the least, stretched the form from something generally limited to logical discussions on what to cook and how to cook it into something different: sprawling, magnificent, emotional songs to the hearts of readers who eat food and who think about what it means. Let’s start with A ~
A is for dining alone … and so am I, if a choice must be made between most people I know and myself. This misanthropic attitude is one I am not proud of, but it is firmly there, based on my increasing conviction that sharing food with another human being is an intimate act, which should not be indulged in lightly.
There are few people alive with whom I care to pray, sleep, dance, sing, and (perhaps most of all, except sleep) share my bread and wine. Of course there are moments when such unholy performances must take place, in order to exist socially, but they are endurable because they need not be the only fashion of self-nourishment.
Continue reading this story here at Gourmet Magazine.