The day I met Julia Child, in June 1971, my last day at Cordon Bleu in London, she toured the school and came to see the results of the final exams. - Mastering the Art of Southern CookingThis is the story of how I acquired what may be the coolest entry in my cookbook collection (other than Sirius). It’s also a story of real friends, and how Facebook friends can be real friends too.
Real friends need no explanation. Susan has been Trish’s “bestie” since we were all in Law School. She was supposed to be maid-of-honor at our wedding. She had a Court call at the last minute so we had to make a substitution. His name is Perry.
Facebook friends are harder to define. It's kind of like Potter Stewart's famous dictum: I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. Old chums reacquainted, as well as people you have never physically met. Friendships do form, and favors are done. You tend to keep quite about such things - neither side in such a transaction should be overburdened.
I have permission to reveal this favor.
Let us begin the story with a gift card, although the story began much earlier than that. Last January, on our regular visit to Cleveland to visit our friends Susan and Brian and their daughter Angela, I received a gift card for Barnes & Noble from them. There was no question that I was going to use this gift card on a cookbook. A special cookbook. Particularly one that I could choose a recipe from to use at one of our biannual get-togethers there.
As a cookbook collector, I always pay attention to the latest releases. I am picky about what makes it in to my collection in any case, and this time perhaps more so. I read the reviews and commentaries from trusted sources and in time winnowed my list down to two: Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi and Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree. It was a difficult choice. I had heard wonderful things about both but in the end my pick was Jerusalem - mostly because I had already cooked Southern dishes at our gatherings.
It was difficult, not least because I have long been a fan of Nathalie (if I may be so bold). Because of her I learned to appreciate Southern cookery, which, like many Yankees, I thought of as a mixture of grits and grease. I have my sister in law, Alisa, to thank for introducing me to Nathalie in the days when I was learning to cook.On Saturdays I was glued to the weekend food shows on PBS - at that time the only game in town. Alisa who has been, and will always be, my friend just thought I’d really enjoy Nathalie's shows.
In Toledo we had a choice between two PBS stations - Bowling Green was just down the road. On one I found Miss Nathalie - adorable, down to earth, and delightfully informative. Everything I looked for in a TV cooking instructor. She even taught me to enjoy grits - shrimp and cheese grits anyone?Yum.
In a later incarnation she became a Facebook friend. The kind of celebrity who not only acknowledges a comment you make on her posts, but likes and comments on posts of yours on occasion.
So, I decided to buy the book for a holiday present to myself. And that's when I had a stroke of genius. Enter my Facebook friend Devany Vickery-Davidson. Cook, food writer/blogger, photographer and all around nice lady. You can read her work at The Sassy Spoon. I hope I met her in person someday.
Located in Hawaii when I first "met " her, she has since moved to Charleston, SC. In warmer months she often spoke of her morning walks along the streets of that City. Her companion on many of these walks: none other than Nathalie Dupree.
Thus, my diabolical plot was hatched. After getting approval from Devany, I packaged up the book (with a return pre-paid shipping label enclosed) and sent it off. It returned before Christmas, though in different packaging. Devany had added some goodies of her own. I had Trish wrap it to go under the tree - I may have known the contents, but I wanted the inscription (and the goodies) to be a surprise.
To Scotty –How wonderful. Well worth the effort, don't you think?
With hopes you remember the night in Casablanca – I do –
Season with love
I have added some cool autographed volumes to my collection over the years. There's the copy of Craig Claiborne's autobiography with his apparent signature and a raised seal “From The Library of Felipe Rojas-Lombardi”, a couple of generically author signed works or works originally inscribed to former owners.
I had Buffalo's Alfred Portale sign a copy of one of his books when we did a fund raiser for the Albright-Knox some years ago. There is wonderful copy of a book by a famous cook, signed to me by the actual author (another Facebook friend I’d like to hang with), that I cherish.
But this one is way too cool. The closest I'm likely to get to taking Miss Nathalie's hand and giving it a gallant kiss. Thank you Nathalie, and Devany, and Alisa and Susan and Brian. Can’t think of anything that could ever top this.
Well, actually I can.
Claudine, are you reading this . . . . ?