Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Cooking Breakfast and Other Meals for the Ones You Love: Reflections on Craig Claiborne

Frank Bruni has an intersting appreciation of Craig Claiborne, his legacy and his life today. Claiborne was one of the big three inmid-20h century American cooking, the others being James Beard and the wonderful Julia Child.

I have two well-thumbed cookbooks by Claiborne. Cooking with Herbs and Spices is brought out many times a year, but particularly in June when the mint is lush and flavourful so I can make mint and lime sherbet. His The Chinese Cookbok (with Virginia Lee) is one I haven't used much lately, but it taught me much about that cuisine. And for years I read his columns in The New York Times avidly.

But Bruni says that Claiborne lacked that ingredient for a fulfilled life: partners to share it with. I had not known that: what a shame. While my culinary adventuring is tame compared to his, I must count myself lucky to have loved ones to cook for. That's something to think about when it seems that my various projects are stalled.

So in honour of those who like what I make for them, here's Fanny Brice singing a song that it seems Claiborne didn't have a chance to sing often.


lagatta à montréal said...

Without knowing anything about the life of Craig Claiborne, I did get the impression that he was a gay man, at a time when being openly gay or lesbian was much less possible than today, even in media and the arts. And from a Southern US background, with all that might entail about social strictures.

A good friend who died of AIDS at age 37 or 38 was also a very accomplished person, a serious academic - head of an important university department at such a young age - and a serious activist. But he never had a serious relationship with a man, and his strictly-Catholic working-class family from St-Henri was unaware of his sexual orientation, which he kept strangely under wraps even among his comrades and friends.

When gay people lived hidden, closeted lives, there was a lot of substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviour; for one thing, bars and other pickup zones were about the only places where gays and lesbians could safely meet. Fortunately this has changed a lot in the last half-century, but not everywhere and not enough.

But many, many people, whatever their orientation, find themselves without a companion, or worse, locked in a hellish relationship. There really are no guarantees.

Mary Soderstrom said...

So true...and all the more reason to sing along with Fanny when you can!