Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Man. Machine. Magazine.


  • Please log in to reply
37 replies to this topic

#1 Daily Gullet Staff

Daily Gullet Staff
  • host
  • 152 posts

Posted 11 April 2005 - 07:07 AM

by Margaret McArthur

I'm alone in a rowboat in a howling Nor'Easter, provisioned with nothing but a bottle of Molson Ex and a bag of marshmallows. Twenty years of cooking magazines are acting as ballast, but the boat's taking on water and I'm forced to jettison my collection. What goes over the bow first?

As a recurring nightmare it can't compete with the one where I'm trying to catch a plane to Oslo to pick up my Nobel, only to find that my shoes don't match, my passport has expired, and I've forgotten my speech in the taxi. But faced with the laws of physics, the linear feet of available shelf space and the ever-expanding cookbook collection, I'm bailing out the boat at least once a year.

Sorry, Martha, over you go, just from sheer weight. I'm sure you ace the swimming portion of the Iron Man, and my complete series of Martha Stewart Living has already been eroded, standing in for sand as the leveling agent under the patio bricks. I can find your recipe for piped peapods on the bookshelf or at marthastewart.com. Besides, I'm hanging on to you because I still yearn to craft a complete collection of State Birds entirely from pompoms. (Lest you think that burial under the bricks is a sign of masculine disrespect, my husband adores Martha, and would have served her five months in a flash had she put him on her calendar for an assignation featuring pumpkin carving. She's blonde, she can cook and after watching her tour Steinway and Sons, he's convinced that she can rebuild a nine-foot grand faster than even he.)

Gourmet. Groan. Every other year a mutable pair of adorable nine-year-olds comes to the door, selling magazine subscriptions to raise money for Brownies or soccer camp or Missions to Mongolia. Sigh. Of course I submit, and choose Gourmet. What compels my caving? There's always that single irresistible recipe I want to save, so I add another month to the stack waiting for that rainy-day clipping party that never happens. Come to think of it, I can always consult Epicurious.com. Sorrow is cold comfort Ruth; you're going over the bow.

I shake a dozen blow-in subscription cards from a random copy of Bon Appetit. Here again, Epicurious is my friend. Reserving a card to be inscribed later with a plea for rescue -- which I'll stuff into the empty Molson bottle -- I toss the rest, along with five years' worth of endless holiday tips, into the drink.

For five years, we had unlimited access to the dumpster of America's leading importer of foreign periodicals. That was truly the Golden Age of magazine madness: piles of Paris-Match, Country Life and Madame Figaro obscured the coffee table, the carpet, and the tops of toilet tanks. The Italian cooking magazines were by mille miglia the most beautiful, and I saved (and still cook from) dozens of them. But: I cough into my saltwater-soaked hanky, channel Violetta in the last act of La Traviata, and watch Sale e Pepe, A Tavola and La Cucina Italiana sail away. Quel dolor.

After the operatic catharsis, I manage to pitch a near complete set of Cook's Illustrated, senza lagrima. Thanks for cooking up the compilations, Christopher; the boat's another foot higher in the water. I nibble the last marshmallow -- and prepare to go down with the boat, the beer, and twenty-five issues of Pleasures of Cooking.

I will go to my watery grave with Carl Sontheimer.

The Man

By now, I should expect it. Along with those other culinary crushes of mine, de Pomiane and Babinski, Sontheimer was a Science Guy first, a Food Guy second -- I gleaned most of his biographical information at the website of his alma mater, MIT. He was born in New York City in 1914, but spent most of his youth in France before heading stateside to go to college. He was a Mechanical Engineer, inventor and entrepreneur with a passion for microwave -- the frequency, not the oven -- and he sold a direction finder to NASA, who deployed it on a mission to the moon. As a tribute to his ingenuity, MIT has established the Carl G. Sontheimer Prize for Excellence in Innovation and Creativity in Design. (Don't confuse this with the Sontheimer Award, which honors "The driver who best exemplifies all the attributes that make up the professional truck driver.") He sold his engineering company and could have spent the rest of his life bumming around La Belle France in considerable style, munching through every star in Michelin.

You can take the engineer out of the country, but you can't take the engineer out of the rich retired gourmet entrepreneur. In 1971, Carl and his wife attended a culinary trade show in France. In a coup de foudre, he fell in love with the monstre mechanique of the French professional kitchen, the Robo Coupe. He bought a licensing agreement and tinkered with the bulky behemoth, downsizing it for home use. In 1973, he delivered its docile domesticated offspring, the Cuisinart. To paraphrase Carole King, the earth moved under our clogs.

The Machine

The Cuisinart is a fixture now, a standard item on the bridal registry, like a covey of canisters or an electronic foot spa. Typical is the daughter of a friend, married a year: she has yet to sully the work bowl with so much as a shallot, because the newlyweds rely on that other shower perennial, the microwave, for all their romantic dinners a deux. I weep for that flame set of Le Creuset, and the gleaming gaggle of All-Clad that will likewise remain virgin long past the Paper Anniversary.

But, oh those heady early days! Sauce Maltaise in rivers. Mayonnaise every night, whether we needed it or not! Pate without cranking the clunky grinder that n'er cleaved to the counter. My weekly batches of quenelles, mousses, terrines and Anchoiade Nicoise rivalled the output of the garde-manger on the QEII, and we ate enough Potage Crecy to handle our lifetime requirement of beta-carotene.

I worked at Crate and Barrel when Gordon Segal owned only four stores and flipped burgers for us employees at the company picnic. The cookware store jillionaire was mad for the Cuisinart; I julienned cases of carrots to the amazement of the nascent foodie class -- and for the personal enrichment of my boss. I used my employee discount to buy my own slice/dice/knead/puree miracle machine (Cuiz One), and replaced it for the first time only two years ago, 6,240 batches of pizza and seven cars later. Not because the machine didn't work -- hell, the motor still purred to life with a flick of the fingertip -- but it had become a wearisome chore to order the now- obsolete mixing bowl. We decided to blow some money for Cuiz Two. In non-culinary terms this is like replacing an '88 Honda never driven outside Southern California.

I lugged Cuiz Two (a Deluxe 11) upstairs to the bathroom and set its squat booty on the bathroom scales. It weighs in at twelve and a half pounds before breakfast -- a food processor middleweight -- some of the Big Boys push twenty pounds. But that twelve and a half pounds is enough to prevent the machine from going walkabouts when it's kneading a pound and a half of bread dough, and its motor has never stalled or overheated. I knocked out a blender in the first twenty seconds of Round One without so much as a standing eight count; it stayed on the mat in acrid electrical meltdown while trying to shred tough artichoke leaves on their way to the compost heap. Cuiz Two doesn't break a sweat.

The food processor's knockout punch is the s-curved stainless steel blade. Pureed chicken livers for all those terrines in about fifteen seconds, pate brisee in thirty, and bread dough in a minute and a half. It's the attachment that gets the most use unless you are, as I was, briefly, in the underground carrot cake business. That said, some of the happiest hours of my working life were spent wowing the world by demonstrating how to grate a zucchini in three seconds with the grating disk, or how to deconstruct a cabbage with the scary-sharp slicer.

I don't pull out the plastic dough blade very often and I don't own the newfangled attachments like egg whips or fruit juicers; I don't need them. The basic kit has never failed me, although I've pulled stupid stuff. Hint: Do not puree large quantities of liquids, crepe batter for instance. To yield two cups prepare five, since three cups will ooze like thin sweet library paste over sixty square feet of countertop and floor when you remove the bowl from the shaft. But the blade will function perfectly, and it will be the work of thirty-five seconds. The cleanup will take a month -- two, if you have grouted surfaces. Trust me.

Should you desire advanced guidance in feed-tube plunger pressing, or need specs for competitive food processors, I refer you to How Stuff Works.

The Magazine

After setting up Cuiz One for its virgin voyage, I shook the box and out fell a slim spiral-bound cookbook: Recipes for the Cuisinart Food Processor (James Beard and Carl Jerome), along with an invitation to join the Cuisinart Cooking Club. I felt as if I had been invited to join a cozy crowd of early adopters before the term had been adopted. Signing up would get me a subscription to the club newsletter, and a magazine called The Pleasures of Cooking. Assuming that my memory hasn’t been wasted by age and Maker's Mark, I remember that the first couple of issues were free, Little Girl. The heady contents of my first issue hooked me, and I would have considered a life of petty crime in order to feed my The Pleasures of Cooking jones -- if the magazine were available today, I'd turn to drugs, numbers and prostitution.

Someone once told me that his collection of The Pleasures of Cooking was the only paper he bothered to rescue from his burning house. The edges of the survivors are black, brittle and redolent of smoke, but he still uses them. Should my house be set ablaze by an untended vat of duck fat, why would I rescue what my daughter calls "that really greasy sticky stack" of cooking magazines before I grab the family silver but after her hand-made Mother's Day cards?

For one thing, they're damn near irreplaceable. Sontheimer published two cookbook anthologies: The Pleasures of Cooking Fruits and Vegetables (Maria Kourebanas, Editor, Carl Sontheimer, Editor Ecco, 1998) and Classic Cakes and Other Great Cuisinart Desserts (Carl G. Sontheimer, Cecily Brownstone, Contributor Hearst, 1994.) They're both out of print, and fine as they must be, they're mere single-subject compendiums. The Pleasures of Cooking was exciting precisely because the subjects were so eclectic. Here's the bill of fare from March/April 1987.

  • "Eye Opening Weekend Breakfasts" (Marion Cunningham!)

  • "Bhutanese Cuisine" (Suzanne Waugh)

  • "The Waffle Makes a Comeback" (no author cited.) Ten glorious glossy pages of waffle recipes and photos. Hmm . . . Curried Waffles with Chutney Butter sound interesting…

  • "Seafood Specialties from Maine Chefs" (Sally Tager) Flambeed marinated salmon?

  • "A Wealth of Welsh Fare" (Fay Carpenter). Gee, I can't remember the last time I saw a long article, with recipes, about Welsh food; in fact, it's the one and only. A slice of Teison Nionod, anyone? (Hang on a minute here -- Bhutanese Cuisine?).

  • "Plenty of Polenta" (Mindy Heiferling) Think back, Dear Reader: In 1987 polenta didn't nestle in a cryovac tube next to the bacon at the Piggly Wiggly. The few Americans who knew what it was called it as they saw it: high-falutin' cornmeal mush.

May/June 1982 gives us Roy Andries de Groot on "The Mussels of Brussels," and Florence Lin on "Baked and Steamed Chinese Buns". Cuiz One churned out hundreds of steamed Lotus Leaf Buns. Lin teaches us how to turn them into Bat Buns; I remember that I dipped the tip of a chopstick into red food coloring, then dabbed the bun twice. "Mommy! Bat Eyes!” In the September/October 1982 issue, Jacques Pepin butchers, ties and trims all sorts and sizes of game from quail to venison, then Cecily Brownstone offers us a piece of Applesauce Cake for dessert. Julie Sahni teaches a seminar about Indian flatbreads a la Cuiz; the grease stains on the page remind me that in 1982 I made Phulka and Aloo Poori. Left to myself, I would never allow a sweet potato through my front door. Not only that, but in 1982 I distrusted turmeric, had never touched a tandoor or tasted so much as a forkful of vindaloo. Completely ignorant of Indian food, I still felt seduced, impelled, inspired to puree those orange tubers with cinnamon, flatten the paste into discs, and deep fry them in three quarts of bubbling canola oil. It took a month to degrease the ceiling.

The Pleasures of Cooking masthead included James Beard (from its inception until his death), Cecily Brownstone (Sontheimer's Number Two), Paula Wolfert and Jacques Pepin (for the entire run of the magazine). The photography was way ahead of its time, both seductive and instructive. No ads, of course, because the entire magazine was an ad, though forty per cent of the recipes don't require a Cuisinart. There's foodie arcana -- James Beard tells us that he breakfasted from a tray delivered to his bedroom every morning until he turned twelve. In rereading the sticky stack, I marvel at the space Sontheimer gave to Asian food, the charm of Susan Purdy's interview with Jeanette Pepin (May/June 1986. Hmm. Green Bean Salad with Cream Sauce,) and the poignancy of Jacques Mendes's piece about the late Bernard Loiseau in which Christian Millaut describes him as a "fundamentally happy man." (March/April 1986.) Even the reader recipes on the back page are consistently solid: Next time I'm in Oakville, Ontario I'll look up Barbara Gibson, and present her with my Key Lime variation of her Lemon Icebox Cookies, which rock on in the top ten of my Cookie Hit Parade.

Sontheimer inaugurated a long hot series on Indian regional food by Copeland Marks that makes me want to go Goan tonight. Brownstone's series on Classic American Cakes nudges me into the kitchen, where I at last bake the Williamsburg Orange Cake I never found time for back when Jane Fonda and I worked out to Jimmy Buffett together. Here's Copeland Marks again, this time from Tunisia; I'll try that carrot salad with capers, mint, olives and hard-boiled eggs. In fact, I'll make it tonight!

"I'll make it tonight!" Those four words explain why I'm still clutching those twenty-five issues to my bosom when the Coast Guard throws me a line. Of course, I try new recipes every time I pull a cooking magazine from the mailbox. Yeah, I find good, even great, new dishes in print and on line. Sure, Carl Sontheimer wanted us to fall hard for his machine -- and to buy one for Mom come Christmas. He knew that your girlfriend would head to Crate and Barrel and get one for herself when she saw you make child's play of zucchini bread. But the man's love of good food (frat house meals at MIT were a severe disappointment after a French boyhood!) and his pleasure in its cooking continue to inspire, one issue at a time. Within a four-day period this month, he inspired me to make Suzanne Jones's Beaten Biscuits, the Williamsburg Wine Cake, Basque Lamb Stew, Pickled Pears, and Oatcakes.

Browsing Pleasures of Cooking for even five minutes can still, after all these years, turn me on, lift me from my chair and into propel me into the kitchen. I’m, excited, aroused -- lusting! -- to cook something new, something old, something exotic. Something wacky.

Marshmallows

I last toasted a marshmallow on the shores of Lake Massawippi, singing "Louie Louie" around a campfire with my fellow prepubescent Episcopalians. Commercial marshmallows are cheap and dependable, and my annual consumption is exactly one bag, to be melted into the obligatory No-Fail Chocolate Fudge at Christmastime. As my daughter now prefers costlier Christmas confectionery, I may have bought my last squishy sack.

But Carl Sontheimer inspired me to make marshmallows.

The March/April 1984 issue of Pleasures of Cooking included an article by Susan Smith titled "Many Many Marshmallows." I came upon it last month. Lingered over a full-page photograph (a wall of pink and white, chocolate-dipped, coconut-coated marshmallows.) I smiled the way the yearbook portrait of the guy I dated in tenth grade still makes me smile. (Sam was silly, sweet and sideburned.) "Many Marshmallows?" In 1984, I guffawed: Carl had finally lost it, meandered that meter too far on his road to show me the seductive features of Cuiz One. (I do remember making the Devilled Crab from "Jim Beard's Tray Dinners" on page 16.)

This time I read the recipe. Hell, all the ingredients are pantry staples, and cheap ones at that. Boil corn syrup, water and sugar until it reaches 250 degrees. Dissolve some gelatin and keep it warm. Whip three egg whites with an electric mixer, dribble the hot sugar syrup, gelatin and vanilla over them and beat continuously, until the sticky stuff becomes cool and thick. Spread the whole mess into a pan dusted with powdered sugar and cornstarch, wait two hours, cut into squares, and it's magic time, folks. Marshmallows!

Knowing well my struggles with confectionery in general, and hot sugar syrup in particular, I parted with four bucks at Target for a candy thermometer. The drive back seemed longer than usual, the red lights more frequent, the motorists deeply respectful of the speed limit. I did have the decency to mock myself: I was courting a speeding ticket hurrying home to make marshmallows!

Three hours later, I dusted the cornstarch from my fingers. I beamed. Stacked on my best pedestal cake plate were tiers of chocolate-dipped, coconut-coated, pink and white marshmallows. Frothy fripperies, silly and sweet, made, come to think of it, with no help whatsoever from a food processor.

I'd been inspired to cook something new, just for the fun of it, because a whimsical photograph, good writing and a seductive recipe reached from the page, wiggled a flirtatious finger, and pointed me straight me to the kitchen. That's the real reason I'll never part with Carl's sticky stack. Every issue reminds me of how I began to cook, shows me why I still love to cook and pulls me from my chair to cook some more. The title once seemed stuffy, stilted, even smarmy, but Carl Sontheimer christened it right.

Sontheimer didn’t care if you flunked Pompoms 101. His magazine isn’t about restaurant reviews, collectible can openers or finding the best brand of baked beans. He was proud of his late-life Baby, the machine that revolutionized our kitchens, and he wanted us to coo over it, chuck its chin and contribute to its college fund. But above all, he wanted us to believe in the endless delights beckoning us to cook -- the classic, the cutting edge, and the exotic. The pleasures of cooking.



Margaret McArthur, aka maggiethecat, is host and Dark Lady of the the Daily Gullet Competitions. She writes, cooks and tends her garden near Chicago.

Art by Dave Scantland, after
The Lady of Shallot, by John William Waterhouse. (1888, Tate Gallery, London)


#2 Fat Guy

Fat Guy
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 29,303 posts
  • Location:New York, NY

Posted 11 April 2005 - 08:40 AM

My mother had one of the very first Cuisinarts, given to her as a generous gift by someone who shopped at Bloomingdale's with reckless abandon (it wasn't something we'd have been able to afford): a boxy contraption that weighed a ton and made a noise like a steam locomotive. That same model sat atop my mother's kitchen counter until 2003, though there may have been a replacement (with the same model) sometime in the late 1970s. The Cuisinarts you can get today at Costco for $179 are better (and better-looking) than the originals (which cost something like $500 in the 1970s), but it took decades to improve upon the basic design.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)


#3 JAZ

JAZ
  • manager
  • 4,901 posts
  • Location:Atlanta

Posted 11 April 2005 - 09:05 AM

I have a copy of The Pleasures of Cooking Fruits and Vegetables; I picked it up last year for a few dollars but haven't done much with it yet. Now, after reading this, I'll have to look through it. Thanks, Maggie.

#4 Priscilla

Priscilla
  • participating member
  • 1,834 posts
  • Location:SoCal Scruburbia

Posted 11 April 2005 - 09:56 AM

Maggie, this is a great piece. A pleasure to read and reflect upon. Mayonnaise every day, whether we needed it or not. How life should be.

I lament my having missed out on this publication! How did this happen? And so it is added to the mental Want List, along with the other items that live there, second only to the greenish china cabinet which has been uppermost for two or three years now. I'll find it, someday, along with a complete Pleasures of Cooking, too.

Your description of TPoC reminds me of my desert-island cookery books, Craig Claiborne's Favorites, compendiums of his NYT columns from the late 1970s. Many of the characters you mention appear, in early incarnations, and the breadth of the cooking going on at the time is, well, breathtaking. The most exciting era of American cookery, so far, to me.

CC had this to say about the Cuisinart in the March 16, 1975, NYT (the Cusinart required such pithy exposition in the early days -- much as you were instructing your minions at Crate & Barrel, I would imagine):

"The Cuisinart Food Processor is purely and simply a multipurpose machine with a sound-free, sturdily constructed motor, housed in a heavy, handsomely designed plastic base. The base is surmounted by a clear plastic cylinder encircling a spindle that can be outfitted with any of four attachments, including the two double-bladed knives (one of stainless steel and the other of plastic) and two stainless-steel discs (one for slicing, one for shredding)."

And he goes on, including sharing your observation, "The plastic blade is nonessential...."

Since my first one in 1983 I am only on my second Cuisinart, too. Finally killed the first one, which was already 10 years or so old, crushing lobster shells. (I have since switched to Jeremiah Tower's letting the KitchenAid beat the hell out of them, instead.) After it died, I thought for a couple of months maybe I'd do without -- I try to do a lot by hand, anyways, and maybe the immersion blender will suffice, and one less appliance to clean/store etc., and, blahblahblah. It took my backyard basil only showing sings of burgeoning to get me down to the dread Costco for a replacement -- the seeming gallons of pesto I was used to making just wasn't happening otherwise.

Can't wait until this 10-year-old+ machine dies so I can move up to the 11 series -- maybe I can help it along with some lobster shells, eh?

Priscilla

~Observing Taco Friday since 2010~

Twitter InstagramOCFoodNation.com Orange Coast Magazine

 


#5 phaelon56

phaelon56
  • legacy participant
  • 4,036 posts
  • Location:Syracuse, NY

Posted 11 April 2005 - 09:59 AM

Nice article. But surely few folks apart from Canadians or those of us who came of age in Central/Northern NY state will know what "Molson Ex" is. And what a lovely ale it is... or was (I haven't had a drink in a few years and don't know how Molson Export Ale stands up to the current crop of specialty brews).

Ahhhh.... and memories of the beloved Robot Coupe. The cooks at the first restaurant I worked in talked about the "Coop" as though it were a member of the staff.

#6 bloviatrix

bloviatrix
  • participating member
  • 4,553 posts
  • Location:Manhattan

Posted 11 April 2005 - 10:21 AM

My mother has one of the original Cuisinarts where there is no on/off or pulse buttons. Rather, the the bowl has to be locked into place and then you slide the cover in position which turned the thing on. I think Mom was a little afraid of her Cuisinart - she would wrap each blade in lots of paper after using and keep them in a small box on which she wrote "warning! sharp objects." I wasn't allowed to go near the machine and if I expressed interest I would get a lecture about how sharp the blades were.

She still has that machine, although she doesn't cook all that much any more. I wonder how much money she could get for it on Ebay.
"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

#7 Safran

Safran
  • participating member
  • 283 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted 11 April 2005 - 10:41 AM

My mother has one of the original Cuisinarts where there is no on/off or pulse buttons.  Rather, the the bowl has to be locked into place and then you slide the cover in position which turned the thing on.

View Post


This is the model I have (around 25 years old...)...and it still works wonderfully well. I think that motor could be used to propel a boat... I LOVE my Cuisinart and of course have had to really hunt to get another bowl for it. By now, guests who come in my kitchen are intrigued by this "food processor" most of them never having seen this model. My friends and their daughters all have the newer, bigger models but I hope mine will serve me another 20 years!! :wub:

#8 Marlene

Marlene
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 8,123 posts
  • Location:Alberta, Canada

Posted 11 April 2005 - 12:06 PM

Interesting article Maggie. Sorry, I don't have a Cusinart, but that's not what I'm getting from this story anyway.

What I hear is that there are very few magazines out there that inspire you to cook today. Having cooking magazines changed so much over the years or is it more than as your culinary knowledge grows, and you gained more confidence in your own skills, you found you simply outgrew them? I'm truly curious as I recently asked a couple of people for their two top choices in cooking magazines today, thinking I might invest in a couple, and I got two very different answers. However, the answer I got from both of them was that generally speaking there was no one magazine that made the cut of truly great information on a regular basis.

What then replaces the traditional cooking periodical? What is it today that consistently causes you to exclaim, "I'll make it tonight!"

I must confess I get a great deal of my inspiration for cooking right from eGullet. Is that our destiny? To slowly watch the periodicals go the way of the dinosoaur while we submit to the instant gratification of the Internet where expertise and the exchange of knowledge is a mouse click away? Is it fair to say that a place like the eG Forums for example would be the natural successor to POC?
Marlene
cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.
Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

#9 M. Lucia

M. Lucia
  • participating member
  • 580 posts
  • Location:New York

Posted 11 April 2005 - 12:59 PM

I really enjoyed this article, especially since I grew up in the post-Cuisinart era.
Any chance of being able to share some of the recipes mentioned?

#10 mizducky

mizducky
  • participating member
  • 2,407 posts
  • Location:San Diego, CA

Posted 11 April 2005 - 01:39 PM

By an entertaining coincidence, the first I ever saw of those early Cuisinarts was in the households of assorted MIT-graduate friends of mine. I was fresh out of college and these friends helped me take my first steps towards raging foodie-hood. Heh--there's no geek like an MIT geek, and there's no cooking geek like an MIT cooking geek. Them wuz fun times.

One of these MIT Cuisinart-dudes also had a garbage disposal in his well-appointed kitchen, another first for me. I recall a couple different instances of me pulling a brain-fart and absentmindedly calling the garbage disposal a food processor or vice versa, to my friends' great amusement. (Hey, they both whirl 'round and grind stuff up, right?) But I didn't mix them up anymore after my first food-processor-based cooking project, a big batch of gazpacho if I recall correctly. Just surveying the mighty mound of vegetables I shredded, and contemplating how much time and knuckle-skin that would have taken if done by hand, guaranteed that the food processor concept would stay etched upon my brain forever.

Meanwhile, a couple of run-ins with a badly backed-up garbage disposal indelibly etched that gizmo's concept into my brain as well, with rather less happy associations.

#11 azurenath

azurenath
  • participating member
  • 26 posts

Posted 11 April 2005 - 01:57 PM

Maggie, what a great piece. Your writing has such cadence to it.
Thanks.

Nathalie
--------------------------------------------
Nathalie Jordi
nathalie.jordi@nealsyarddairy.co.uk
http://www.nathaliebouffe.com

#12 winesonoma

winesonoma
  • participating member
  • 1,582 posts
  • Location:Sonoma, Ca

Posted 11 April 2005 - 02:05 PM

I really enjoyed this article, especially since I grew up in the post-Cuisinart era.
Any chance of being able to share some of the recipes mentioned?

View Post

My favorite still to this day. Equal parts Cream Cheese and Good Liverwurst, with sautéed mushrooms and Sherry. Add all to processor, mix, Chill for 2 hrs. Unmold at the party. Never have I brought any home. :biggrin:

Edited by winesonoma, 11 April 2005 - 02:09 PM.

Bruce Frigard
Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"
111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

#13 LindaK

LindaK
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,904 posts
  • Location:Boston, MA

Posted 11 April 2005 - 04:58 PM

Thanks so much for this piece, so many ideas in one narrative.

You really brought back the joys of using Cuiz for the first time (mine was a wedding gift--and when the marriage failed, the Cuiz came with me, despite having been a gift from my ex-MIL). That was 1985 and it's still going strong. Just yesterday 5 lbs of potatoes were transformed within minutes into a perfect gratin dauphinois thanks to that fabulous machine. While I'm sure it functions beautifully, I loathe the design of the current Cuisinart, I hope mine lasts another 20 years.

As others have noted too, it does make one think about the sources of culinary inspiration. How did I miss The Pleasures of Cooking? I used to find Gourmet to be an inspiration (1985-early 90's) but it morphed into boring and repetitive and now seems to be more about product placement than anything else (it's my nephew's school fundraising that keeps it in my house). I love to troll used bookstores--this is something to look for. Thanks again!


 


#14 maggiethecat

maggiethecat
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,053 posts
  • Location:Chicago Burbs -- West

Posted 11 April 2005 - 06:09 PM

As always, the discussion is illimunating. Thank you.

About the machine: The Cuiz puts out, it doesn't tire, it's reliable faithful and true. I love my KA, but unless I pull out the annoying anti- splatter attachment, I know that I'll be wearing flour, and so will my counter. I use my mandoline all the time, but its' results depend on my digital caution, and it can't produce pizza dough. The Cuiz is utterly predictable -- a safe harbor in a cluttered kitchen. And you can't kill it.

About the magazine: Marlene brings up some excellent questions. One of the virtues of "Pleasures of Cooking" is the intelligent layout;you aren't flipping to page 198 for the rest of the recipes -- every story can be consumed in a gulp. The level of writing and photography (and the No Ads) and the historic joyful 70's-80s renasissance of the cooking gene makes for compelling reading.

The great analogy to eGullet is the fabulous evangelical engaged tone of the writers. They are jumping out of their skins to convince you that Welsh food is worth a twirl around the dance floor. The range of subjects should make any current food magazine hang it's head. In the evolving neo-foodie atmosphere it catered to, Pleasures feels like a conversation with your favorite eGull.

Priscilla alludes to Craig Claiborne and the his role in creating the culinary world view. Add Julia Child (in her strapping 50s) and Louis Szathmary. I believe that Carl was, in his way, equally important.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com


#15 Priscilla

Priscilla
  • participating member
  • 1,834 posts
  • Location:SoCal Scruburbia

Posted 11 April 2005 - 11:29 PM

I'm convinced about Carl Sontheimer! And I found the reference that'd been circling since reading the article, from Craig Claiborne's autobiography A Feast Made for Laughter.

Seems Carl who in 1975 put CC onto the restaurant Chez Denis in Paris, which became the site of a controversial stunt, a crazy expensive ($4,000) meal that was the result of Craig's winning bid on a Public Television pledge premium from American Express, dinner anywhere in the world, at any price. The menu included even ortolans, along with the usual Iron Chef suspects, foie gras and caviar and lobster and so forth.

CC got a lot of hate mail, and turns out Carl had a hand in making it all happen!

Priscilla

~Observing Taco Friday since 2010~

Twitter InstagramOCFoodNation.com Orange Coast Magazine

 


#16 bleudauvergne

bleudauvergne
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,235 posts
  • Location:Lyon, France

Posted 12 April 2005 - 02:48 AM

What a great essay! This morning I got to travel through the inspired journey from the invention of the cuisinart to how this publication changed the way you see food and cooking. It's wonderful. If only I could see back issues of The Pleasures of Cooking. Thanks to your article it takes on a mythical quality in my mind. The articles you mention sound intriguing and passionate. I'm going to try to find some copies at the library when I go home this summer. Tell us more!

#17 elrap

elrap
  • participating member
  • 117 posts

Posted 12 April 2005 - 05:48 AM

Maggie, I loved your essay. It wouldn't have been fair to enjoy it as much as I did and not tell you so.

I somehow wound up with an original home-sized Robot-Coupe through some connection of my father's, and remember the days when its virtues were debated vs. the first models of the Cuisinart (I remember the C. had that sort of two-step plunger/stopper, vs. the very simple plastic pipe that fits into the somewhat sturdier R-C). I think the R-C importers were in the Milford, CT area, where I grew up.

This thing still cranks, though its been through several sets of feet and plastic bins, and I can still get parts for it. It weighs nearly 15 pounds.

Regards,

L. Rap
Blog and recipes at: Eating Away

Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

--Wallace Stevens

#18 maggiethecat

maggiethecat
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,053 posts
  • Location:Chicago Burbs -- West

Posted 12 April 2005 - 05:38 PM

Priscilla: How well I remember the flap about Craig Claiborne's diner Chez Denis. I had no idea that Carl was involved in that culinary bit of hoopla; thanks for biographical tidbit.

Lucy, I have to say that I have yet to come across a single copy of Pleasures of Cooking online, in a second hand bookstore, or on a kitchen bookshelf. The circulation figure in July of 1987 was 97,000;certainly not a huge run, but not exactly small press numbers. (Come to Chicago and you can dip into my sticky stack any time.)

Carl touted it as a "cooking class in print," and it was. I like to think that he'd approve of the eGCI.

And to all for their kind words, thank you.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com


#19 jess mebane

jess mebane
  • participating member
  • 566 posts

Posted 15 April 2005 - 05:28 PM

Magali, we are better for knowing you, even in a limited, existentialist kinda way. And that gal on the boat is pretty much how I've pictured you over the years: ethereal beauty with excellent taste in periodicals, if not watercraft. And you're funny as hell.

#20 Kevin Weeks

Kevin Weeks
  • participating member
  • 52 posts

Posted 19 April 2005 - 12:47 PM

I bought my Cuisinart in 1977. I was manager of a gift store that started carrying them and so I also got mine at a discount. Nevetheless, my wife's reaction was, "You spent HOW MUCH for a mixer?!" And on a retail store manager's salary, even discounted, it was an excessive purchase -- or seemed so.

I've been using that same machine for 28 years. I even created my own pulse switch for it by running a cord from a wall outlet to a light switch and outlet that I mounted on a butcher-block worktable.

I'd love to replace it with a new model with a larger work bowl, but I haven't been able to justify it because these days I don't use it nearly as often. I find an old Waring blender my mother gave me better for making purees and sauces. My Kitchen Aid is better at mixing dough and grinding meat and easier to clean after grating cheese for pizza or fondue. I still use a hand mixer for whipping cream or egg whites.

But if I need finely ground parmesan nothing works better and for gazpacho with a bit of texture it can't be beat. Pastry is a dream as are duxelles. And if I were ever reduced to a single counter appliance, the Cuisinart would be my choice as it was for many years after I first bought it.
Kevin
Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. -- Mark Twain
Visit my blog at Seriously Good.

#21 ada

ada
  • legacy participant
  • 63 posts

Posted 25 April 2005 - 05:18 AM

I have no idea how I missed your article on Cuisinart and The Pleasures of Cooking until now. I have been on a quest to find copies of these magazines for a couple of years now. In fact I found this website during this search, a couple of months ago.

Just last month, while typing in "The Pleasures of Cooking" for the hundredth time, I came across someone that was selling the entire collection for $60. I immediately called, only to find out that I was too late, and someone had already bought them.

I started getting these magazines in the late 70's when they first came out. I owned cookware/houseware stores at that time, and found these to be the best cooking magazines on the market. Over the years, many of my copies disappeared. I think friends must not have returned them. I never had the entire collection, but probably fifteen or sixteen editions. I now have eight.

Vol 3, number one May/June 1980. That's the one I really want. Outstanding red pepper recipes. The best quiche (yes, quiche) ever. I still have the page with the picture, but the rest of the magazine with the recipe is gone. Do you have it? I would love to get my hands on that particular recipe. It was not too difficult, but I haven't been able to duplicate it.

Anyway, my heart leaped when I read your article. It's not just me that loved these magazines. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it.

Edited by ada, 25 April 2005 - 01:21 PM.


#22 Wolfert

Wolfert
  • participating member
  • 1,214 posts
  • Location:sonoma

Posted 25 April 2005 - 09:09 AM

[

undefinedVol 3, number one May/June 1980. That's the one I really want. Outstanding red pepper recipes. The best quiche (yes, quiche) ever. I still have the page with the picture, but the rest of the magazine with the recipe is gone. Do you have it? I would love to get my hands on that particular recipe. It was not too difficult, but I haven't been able to duplicate it.



I can xerox and send you the recipes.

Edited by Wolfert, 25 April 2005 - 09:13 AM.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

#23 ada

ada
  • legacy participant
  • 63 posts

Posted 25 April 2005 - 12:50 PM

That would be fantastic! Thanks.
I'll send you a private message with my address.
A

#24 maggiethecat

maggiethecat
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,053 posts
  • Location:Chicago Burbs -- West

Posted 25 April 2005 - 06:14 PM

Anyway, my heart leaped when I read your article. It's not just me that loved these magazines. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it.

View Post


A reader's heart leaping is the best possible payoff for the writer, except for a fistful of filthy lucre. Good luck in your search, ada.

Paula Wolfert, you are a perfect duck to troll through your collection and give ada a hand. Although it falls outside my concentration on Carl, is it true that "The Pleasures" was built upon a small magazine founded by Barbara Kafka, who encouraged a budding food writer known around these parts as wolfert?

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com


#25 ada

ada
  • legacy participant
  • 63 posts

Posted 05 May 2005 - 06:32 PM

I just located some copies of "The Pleasures of Cooking". I didn't want to jinx the sale, so I put off posting, but I do think it's going to happen. I'm really excited. My family thinks I'm nuts, this has taken up a good part of the last couple of weeks.
I should only spend this much time cooking.

#26 Wolfert

Wolfert
  • participating member
  • 1,214 posts
  • Location:sonoma

Posted 10 May 2005 - 06:07 AM

http://cgi.ebay.com/...ssPageName=WDVW



I just located the whole set for sale on ebay.
“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

#27 maggiethecat

maggiethecat
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,053 posts
  • Location:Chicago Burbs -- West

Posted 17 May 2005 - 07:23 PM

The set, I'm informed, went for about 500 bucks -- a bargain, and I hope an eGullet member got it.

Trip down memory lane: I found the copy of the first ever Crate and Barrel catalogue on the bookshelf today. I had a page to myself, employee model and spokesgrrl, mostly because the photograper had a thing for chicks with glasses. (If you don't already know never be immoratalized with your specs on---it dates you. God, I was 23)

But then I leafed throuigh the catalogue and checked the price of Cuiz One: $190.00. I paid $195.00 dollars for its replacement last Christmas. And, I'm talkin over twenty years later.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com


#28 ada

ada
  • legacy participant
  • 63 posts

Posted 22 May 2005 - 07:36 PM

I would love to see that catalogue. What year was it? I was in the gourmet housewares business myself back in those days.

I won the entire set of the magazines. Such a deal! Of course they are in mint condition and I don't want to mess them up. There was a run on these on ebay and I managed to get some used ones too. I never bid on ebay before a couple of weeks ago, and now I'm hooked. I managed to get this Varco mincer I've been trying to get for years too.

My daughter got me a new Cuisinart for the holidays. My old one was about twenty-five years old. I have no idea how much she paid, but she said it was the largest model. I think it is smaller than the one I had.

The set, I'm informed, went for about 500 bucks -- a bargain, and I hope an eGullet member got it.

Trip down memory lane: I found the copy of the first ever Crate and Barrel catalogue on the bookshelf today. I had a page to myself, employee model and spokesgrrl, mostly because the photograper had a thing for chicks with glasses. (If you don't already know never be immoratalized with your specs on---it dates you. God, I was 23)

But then I leafed throuigh the catalogue and checked the price of Cuiz One: $190.00. I paid $195.00 dollars for its replacement last Christmas.  And, I'm talkin over twenty years later.

View Post



#29 maggiethecat

maggiethecat
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,053 posts
  • Location:Chicago Burbs -- West

Posted 22 May 2005 - 07:59 PM

Brava, Ada -- you are now the go-to person for Pleasures of Cooking. I'm delighted we kept them in the family, as it were.

I don't know about copyright laws---this is a catalogue from the mid 70s. I am wearing a Marimekko tucked shirt and arranging flowers with the John Hancock Building in the background.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com


#30 ada

ada
  • legacy participant
  • 63 posts

Posted 25 May 2005 - 05:01 AM

I wonder if the people at Crate and Barrel have a copy of that magazine. I know that when I called Cuisinart during my search for Pleasures of Cooking, they had no idea what I was talking about. I thought it was sad.
I think we have driven up the price of old copies of Pleasures. They are selling for a bundle on Ebay.