True stories with a twist!

Posts tagged ‘photographs’


Unknown        That’s what people say when they’re about to take your picture.

I understand the desire to have smiling faces in photos, but I think saying’s “cheese” creates people with phony smiles. The “cheesy smile” doesn’t give anyone to show a smiling expression, but  an expression of one who’s just had a Novocain shot.

A photographer with a great touch for getting real smiles was working at a doctor’s wedding we attended. He told guests to say, “malpractice,” causing everyone to laugh. The pictures showed everyone having a wonderful time.

When I’m facing the camera I think of something funny I’ve experienced; a favorite memory that will elicit a smile.

Which brings me to the subject of coffee. Most people who drink it like fresh coffee. The fresher the better. Freshly ground coffee beans are best of all. The current popularity of the one cup at a time coffee makers attest to this desirability of freshly brewed coffee. When my future husband and I were dating I spent the weekend at his family’s house one weekend, and my future in-laws invited my parents to lunch. The in-law family included his parents, a sister, a brother and an elderly grandmother.

Grandma, I had discovered in previous visits, had her own way of managing coffee. She believed it was a crime to throw food away. So she recycled the family’s coffee. She poured the old brew into a pot, added milk and warmed it up. Then she poured it into individual cups and served it to unsuspecting guests. My father was a coffee purist and one of the “fresher is better” believers. I had never thought to mention grandma’s coffee preparation methods to him.

Dessert time soon arrived. When offered the choices of coffee or tea my father said,”I’d like some coffee, please.” Grandma went into the kitchen to prepare it. Will I ever forget the look on my father’s face when he took a long sip of Grandma’s concoction? The taste was so foreign: so different from what he expected that he almost spit the mouthful of recycled coffee out all over the imagescarefully laid table. One look at his shock and disbelief was one of the funniest sights I ever saw. Its memory remains in my mind, and makes me laugh every time I remember that day.

So I never have to “say cheese” to force a smile; I simply recall the memory of my father reacting to is first taste of “Grandma style coffee.”


In November, 2009, when I heard the astounding news that Conde Nast decided to eliminate the publication of Gourmet I was shocked. “This magazine has been a part of my life every since I was married,” I wailed. “Couldn’t Conde Nast call for a vote? Summon a focus group? Just a snap of corporate fingers and it’s gone?”

I have so many memories of this wonderful publication.

The first recipe I tried was “Dill Bread Hoffman.” That recipe brought a raging battle to the “Letters to the Editor” page.

“How dare those Hoffmans steal my recipe and then name it after themselves? I submitted that recipe first.”

The pride in family recipes was very serious to the original Dill Bread bakers.Their published temper tantrum added a Country Brawl quality to the magazine.

I was bought back to one traumatic pre-Thanksgiving when my son was in second grade. He came home from school in tears. He had forgotten to tell me that bis teacher requested that the children ask their mothers to serve a typical pilgrim dinner that night.

“Everyone told the class what they had for dinner. Most kids said stuff like, turkey, corn, and squash. But when it was men turn I said Szechuan beef with Chinese mushrooms. Everyone laughed at me.”

My defense? Gourmet had featured recipes from China in the last issue.

Every month when Gourmet arrived I enjoyed a reprieve from humdrum ordinary to exotic. It connected me with famous, sophisticated chefs divulging coveted recipes.

And they were receptive to their subscribers. Once, after a vacation to La Jolla, California, I requested a recipe from Sante Ristorante. One day a letter from Gourmet arrived, containing the recipe for “Papardelle with Fennel Sauce,” compliments of the chef. Gourmet had made time to call and get the respond to my request.

Now they were being forced out of my life forever.

Is it possible to mourn a publication? I did.

Feeling the need for comfort, someone with whom to share my feelings, a way to connect with a past Gourmet experience, I found Sante Restorante and dialed their number. Rather than a greeting from the restaurant I heard a computerized voice saying that the number had been permanently disconnected.

“So they’re gone too!”

As I sorrowfully looked through the last issue ever to be published, November 2009, “A Day That Will Live In Culinary Infamy,” those annoying little post cards advertising new subscriptions kept falling out from between the pages. They were annoying before but now they were infuriating.

“I’ll show Conde Nast what I think of their company’s policy!”Searching through all the Gourmet Magazines stored on my kitchen shelves, I gathered every single postcard and mailed them back to Conde Nast.

They will have to pay for all that postage for those cards. I hope they have to declare Bankruptcy, Chapter 11, and income tax evasion.

So I wonder, “If Julia Child were here today what would she think of what I did?”

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