Monday, October 13, 2014

Comfort food

Eastside Road, October 13, 2014—
IT WAS AN INTENSE and fatiguing day, much of it spent in hospitals: a new great-grandchild arrived at 1:30 in the morning (though we didn't know about it until we got up six hours later); an old friend died quietly at four in the afternoon. This is what we can expect at our age; I'm not complaining. The baby is healthy and handsome and his mother's doing fine; the friend had been suffering and couldn't have been made better and seemed ready for her journey.

On a day like this, Cook said, I always think of Marion. That's Marion Cunningham, who we knew for years, since meeting her back in the 1970s I believe at James Beard's seaside cottage in Oregon. A fine cook and author of cookbooks, she specialized in good traditional down-home American cooking, always ethical, authentic, and tasty.

This is her barley pilaf: barley, cooked until just soft but retaining its structure and bite, flavored with chopped scallions and butter — Marion is unthinkable without butter. A green salad afterward, and a couple of See's candies.
Cheap Barbera d'Asti (soon we'll be sampling better ones!)


Curtis Faville said...

I can't remember any details, but I seem to recall having a very lovely breakfast at that little place on the Northeast corner of Shattuck and Cedar in Berkeley, an omelet served on a dry tortilla, which was purportedly based on a recipe by Cunningham--or am I remembering wrong? Was Cunningham an owner, or just an inspiration for their menu?

Charles, you'd know . . . .

Cunningham had a very big reputation in those days--early 80's?--then she died and her name quickly passed into memory. One still sees her book around.

Charles Shere said...

The restaurant was Bridge Creek, a breakfast restaurant owned and cheffed by John Hudspeth, an Oregonian, a devoté of James Beard, a protégé and friend of Marion Cunningham.
Marion was a man's woman, smart, strong, beautiful. In her youth she owned and ran a gas station. She loved to drive Jaguars. She didn't drink, was her only fault. She loved iceberg lettuce, Green Goddess dressing, and every kind of cake. She was gererous, thoughtful, and supportive, and a hard worker. Everyone who knew her loved her.

Curtis Faville said...

Wow, thanks for this, Charles.

Bridge Creek didn't last long, but it was a terrific little establishment.