Silver Palate memories
I believe my dietary downfall began with my acquisition of The Silver Palate, a wonderful collection of recipes made famous by a popular New York eatery. The cookbook — presented to me by Mr. Big one Christmas with other editions to follow — made Julia Child’s fattened chicken with a side of braised brains seem positively pedestrian.
The Silver Palate was chocked full of fabulous recipes for raspberry or blueberry vinaigrette chicken, or sumptuous soups with mysterious ingredients — things like sorrel — and reading it, and cooking with it, made me feel very exotic.
Before The Silver Palate (BSP), I didn’t really cook; I had no real idea how to roast a bird or bake a layer cake. I made could make a mean spaghetti sauce, but that was about it.
My friends BSP were more interested in drinking up a storm at the National Press Club, then going off to dinner and fighting. It was a great life, but not really an adult life. So when I met Mr. Big and popped out three little ones, I began to change and learn to cook, like a proper Wife Of.
Anyway, BSP I weighed about 140 pounds. ASP, I started to climb into the 160 pound range. That’s because, while the recipes were fabulous, the key ingredients were butter and cream. Cream soups, artery clogging desserts — even the appetizers were bound to put on poundage.
It took a couple of years, but I realized that I was going down a very treacherous path: my thighs were sticking together, my butt was becoming pockmarked, ladies you know the scene. So I changed what I was eating drastically, and I am proud to say that I haven’t had a stick of butter in my house since before the Millenium Celebration, and cream has been dispatched, except on special occasions.
My new gurus of the kitchen are not Jewish ladies from New York, or the astonishing Julia Child. Rather, the writers who occupy space in my bookshelves in the cookbook aisle are Jewish ladies from Toronto — Bonnie Stern and Rose Reisman. Their healthy eating cookbooks have become my Bibles.
Their advice may have come too late, because now that I am fully in the grip of menopause, my metabolism has lost the wrestling match with my hormones. And now, alas, I may be destined to be fat, no matter how wonderful my eating regime.
It’s discouraging, I must say, staying the course. I recently gave in, after my friend gave me wild mushrooms as a birthday present. The only recipe I could find for them was in my old Silver Palate Cookbook, First Edition. It called for cream, butter and Port. Yum!
I haven’t been the same since. I find my fingers trolling the bookshelf as I reach for Rose or Bonnie, and they somehow land on SP. Sometimes I catch myself sneaking a look at its wine reduction stained pages, remembering the days when a chicken could be made so luscious, so sexual, with a dab of creme fraiche. Oh, it’s hard — but I am proud to say my resolve remains, for the most intact.
At our age, there are a few things we still like to see hard — just not our arteries.