How did Marion Cunningham find her calling?

According to Judith Jones:

… it was not until middle age that she found her calling. Until then she had been a suburban mother and housewife, afraid even to leave the house and go shopping by herself, and gradually she had become far too dependent on alcohol. But on her forty-ninth birthday, something snapped in her, and she decided she was missing too much and had to turn her life around. She drove to the nearest airport, in Oakland, bought a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles, and made herself get on the plane, flying there and back the same day. When she returned home that evening and told her family what she had done they were astonished. With her newfound confidence, she announced that she was starting a new life and as of that moment giving up drinking.

Cooking had always been Marion’s secret love, and she began right away taking cooking classes. Before long she was giving lessons in her own kitchen in Walnut Creek and was part of the burgeoning food network around San Francisco. Inevitably, she heard about James Beard’s classes at Seaside, Oregon and wrote him asking if she could attend. She fit right in, and the next summer Jim asked her to come back as his assistant.

Marion Cunningham assisting James Beard in the kitchen

Marion Cunningham assists James Beard

From then on she was his right hand, helping him with classes and demonstrations whenever he was on the West Coast, and chauffering him around Europe. Jim trusted the pureness of her palate and he admired the surety of her taste as well as her warmth and openness with people.

James Beard’s biographer Robert Clark says this:

The classes that began in June exceeded his (Beard’s) expectations, with a large number of returning students, including Marion Cunningham, whom he has been corresponding with and had visited in California the previous year. The entire class became caught up in James’s passion for food and for the food of this place in particular, but Cunningham understood West Coast cooking as perhaps no one in James’s life had since Helen Brown. Although the classes dealt largely with preparations life puff pastry, terrines, souffles, and the rest of the repertoire of high-level cookery, Marion could also appreciate without condescension what less sophisticated inhabitants of the Oregon coast were cooking, the sort of thing you might find in The Fishwives of Charleston, Oregon, Cookbook, a community cookbook for sale that summer not far from Gearhart.


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Marion Cunningham 1922-2012

Marion Cunningham (February 7, 1922 – July 11, 2012 ), well-known for her role in revising and expanding The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and for authoring The Fannie Farmer Baking Book and the Breakfast Book, died this morning from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 90 years old.

Cunningham authored the following books:

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. 1979.

The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. 1984.

The Breakfast Book. 1987.

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. 1990.

The Supper Book. 1992.

Cooking with children : 15 lessons for children, age 7 and up, who really want to learn to cook. 1995.

Learning To Cook. 1999.

Lost Recipes : meals to share with friends and family. 2003.

* lists major works only

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Thank you Nora Ephron.

Nora Ephron passed on June 26. A lot has already been said about her.

In the Los Angeles Times: “Nora Ephron Wrote A Cookbook” and an obituary.

I particularly like Diane Jacobs’ piece, Nora Ephron, My Writing Mentor.

I want to say this:

Nora… thank you for telling the story of how the most important cookbook of the 20th century, Mastering The Art Of French Cooking on screen.


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Bill Granger embroiled in legal battle

Australian publisher Murdoch Books, recently released two Bill Granger “best of” collections. The problem is, Bill Granger says they were produced without his permission. Murdoch says they are using Granger’s recipes under a licensing agreement and that they have been paying him royalties on the new “best of” books.

Granger’s grudge is that “each individual recipe is the result of an application of independent skill and labor, and therefore able to be copyrighted in the same way as any work of literature, photography or painting.” And, that a “collection of recipes itself is a separate, distinct work of art.”

I say, “Equal rights for the cookbook as an art form! Any cookbook is a work of literature and should be treated as such.”





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Modernist Cuisine – what’s in it for a home cook?

Nathan Myrhold and his book Modernist Cuisine

Nathan Myrvhold: Modernist Cuisine

Michele Kayal, of the Associated Press, lessons for the home cook can be had from wizards of modernist cuisine Nathan Myrvhold (Modernist Cuisine), Grant Achatz (fall 2012 release) and Cook’s Illustrated (Science Of Good Cooking, fall 2012 release). Read on.

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The Times-Picayune’s Creole Cook Book

12th edition with dust-jacket

Twelfth edition with dust-jacket

Rien Fertel, freelance oral historian for the Southern Foodways Alliance discussed the Times Picayune’s Creole Cook Book and Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans edited by Marcelle Bienvenu and Judy Walker in the Oxford American (The Southern Magazine of Good Writing) in an article titled: Past & Repast today.

Like his article says, more than sixteen editions have been published.

According to the first edition (1900):

Soon will the last of the olden negro cooks of antebellum days have passed away and their places will not be supplied, for in New Orleans, as in other cities of the South, there is “a new colored woman” as well as a new white.


… to preserve to future generations the many excellent and matchless recipes of our New Orleans cuisine, to gather these up from the lips of the old Creole negro cooks and the grand old housekeepers who still survive, ere they, too, pass away, and Creole cookery, with all its delightful combinations and possibilities, will have become a lost art, is, in a measure, the object of this book.




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Giuliano Hazan updating his Classic Pasta Cookbook with Kickstarter funds

front cover of Classic Pasta Cookbook - first edition 1993

Classic Pasta Cookbook 1993

Read Giuliano Hazan’s post regarding the e-book edition of The Classic Pasta Cookbook.

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Filed under 19th Century, 20th Century, Classics reprinted, Edition history, Italian, Marketplace, News

Coronation Chicken for this year’s Diamond Jubilee luncheons

Constance Spry Cookery Book

Constance Spry Cookery Book


Rosemary Hume’s poached chicken in a creamy curry mayonnaise sauce is the most popular dish being served at this year’s Diamond Jubilee luncheons.

Hume, of London’s Cordon Bleu School of Cookery first served the dish at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation lunch in 1953.

She included the recipe in The Constance Spry Cookery Book in 1956.


Rosemary Hume's Coronation Chicken

Coronation Chicken



Curry Mayonnaise Sauce and Rice Salad

Rosemary Hume’s Curried Mayonnaise Sauce/ Rice Salad

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Interview with Antonio Carluccio

Read an interview with Antonio Carluccio by Charlotte Pike. Carluccio’s memoir is expected to be out Oct. 8. His first book, An Invitation to Italian Cooking, was published in the U.S. under the title: A Taste of Italy in 1986.


A Taste of Italy


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Gwyneth Paltrow responds to ghostwriter controversy on Rachel Ray

Watch the ABC news story.


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