January 22nd, 2013
New York City—Earliest food memories resonate with passionate cooks and provide insights into their personalities. “Butter, I loved butter,” laughs author Betty Fussell, recalling herself as a toddler covered in butter. “This is either my memory or my grandmother told me about it so often it became my memory. I opened the old-fashioned ice box, took out a pound of butter, and ate it.”
Fussell is one of the five prominent authors/editors/restaurateurs featured on the new Kitchen Round Table audio program hosted by chef Marja Samsom, who ran The Kitchen Club restaurant in New York City for some 20 years and is now running a catering business as The Dumpling Diva. Samsom’s program spans the generations, from wildly popular blogger Deb Perelman to Knopf editor Judith Jones, who discovered and published Julia Child. She also travels the world of food, from Italy to India, with Lidia Bastianich and Madhur Jaffrey, eliciting their memories, their recipes, and their opinions on such things as whether frugality matters. All the while she’s making her own mother’s linzer torte and we hear her pouring hazelnuts and almonds onto a cookie sheet for roasting, then chopping the nuts, and later mixing the ingredients. In short order, we’re longing to sit down with a cup of tea and a slice of the delicious raspberry filled torte, ideally in Samsom’s own kitchen.
Bastianich recalls her grandmother’s Italian courtyard, with all the animals—ducks, geese, goats, rabbits—and the garden and grapes for making wine and olives for making olive oil. “Everything was so natural, so close to the source. We ate everything in season. When you pick up that fig and there’s a teardrop of nectar on it, and you put it with a slice of prosciutto—there’s nothing better.” Her taste reference library, she says, “is that little courtyard.”
Jaffrey tells how eating green mango slices dipped in spices was an early grown-up experience for her group of childhood friends. Jones recalls sneaking out to a French restaurant with her father.
Perelman explains how her 3 year old son has changed her cooking and eating habits, forcing her to follow a routine and stock a full refrigerator. “Previously, cooking was a hobby,” she says. “I didn’t have a schedule. I cooked what I wanted when I wanted. With a child, you need to have a routine. Everything is scheduled. I work and I have a kid, and I don’t have a full-time baby sitter.”
All of these accomplished women spend their lives engaging others, both with their words and the foods they cook. Their fans often view them as friends. Samson honors that relationship by inviting listeners into this lively kitchen table conversation.
For info or to order the CD, visit www.audiogo.com.