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Aunt Fanny, My Favorite Guest


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10 replies to this topic

#1 srhcb

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 02:04 PM

Sara,

The Food Network shows I loved most were those featuring Martin Scorsese's Aunt Fanny as your guest. The time she took the live phone call from somebody in her old neighborhood and they chatted about mutual aquaintances while she cooked was priceless! (That was real "reality" tv!)

I think Aunt Fanny is emblematic of a generation of women, who themselves symbolized untold previous generations, that is not being replaced. Their history is the history of cooking, and I'm afraid it gets short shrift in serious discussions of food.

But, recalling my own late grandmothers, perhaps that's they way they would want it?

SB (hoping Aunt Fanny is well and might visit the new PBS show?) :smile:

#2 Sara Moulton

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 05:29 AM

What a nice place to start - with Aunt Fanny! I loved her too. She was so feisty (and that is hard at a head shorter than me). One of the rules I had on the live show was - be nice to the caller - but Aunt Fanny ignored that. Someone would call in and say something like, "Don't you brown your meatballs first?" and Aunt Fanny would look dead in the camera with disdain and say, "no, why would you do that?"

I saw her last summer in new jersey when I was doing a demo at a mall. She surprised me. She sat in the front row with her feet dangling (chair too high) and I made sure to ask her lots of questions while I was doing my demo so she would feel special. It is my plan to have her on my new PBS series and I am sure she will be delighted. She was on my food network shows about 10 times and began to feel a bit like a movie star.

Good question,
Sara Moulton
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#3 srhcb

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 07:13 AM

It is my plan to have her on my new PBS series and I am sure she will be delighted. She was on my food network shows about 10 times and began to feel a bit like a movie star.

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That's great news! :smile:

Maybe somebody at PBS would consider a documentary show devoted to these "natural" cooks before they're all gone? They could call it "Grammas, Nonas, Nanas & Omas .... " Scorsese himself might direct it.

SB (Tell Aunt Fanny I want an autographed picture!) :wink:

#4 Sara Moulton

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 01:45 PM

Actually, I have proposed a similar show and been rejected over and over with the explanation that nobody is interested in old people!!!!
Maybe I should try Scorcese and start with his adorable aunt.
Sara Moulton

#5 Toliver

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 05:59 PM

"To Grandmother's House We Go..."
I had read of a successful series of cooking classes on the local level somewhere back east which featured a new grandmother every week. The object of the class was to have these women reintroduce those comfort foods made from scratch that people in the "Nuke It" generation just didn't bother to take the time to make anymore. Dishes made with real butter, cream, eggs, etc.
Think of it as a class where the torch was passed from one generation to the next.
The students would learn how to make, say, Matzo Ball soup from scratch and would listen to stories from the grandmother's life. There was a moderator who would keep the class on track but would also ask the grandmother questions about the dish, what it was like to shop for produce back then, why you had to make your own bread, and so on. Just like what you did with Aunt Fanny and a lot of your other guests (Mama Dip comes to mind).
I think it would make a great show and would also serve to help keep recipes from our past alive.
Come back in a couple years when eGullet has more money and perhaps they'll help produce the show. :wink:

I am a huge fan of your work and look forward to your new PBS show.

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Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”
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#6 PamelaF

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 10:07 PM

The San Francisco Chronicle weekly Food section has an occasional feature that does just that. It links a reader with a "rent-a-grandma" who can teach them to cook foods from their family heritage. The most recent one covered New Orleans dishes.

SF Chronicle Digest from the California forum
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#7 prasantrin

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 11:10 PM

There's a Canadian TV show called Loving Spoonfuls where the host goes to the houses of grandmothers' and cooks with them. It was on for three seasons, but is no longer on the air. It was a great show.

Edited to add: According to their website, it was on for four seasons, and will soon be rebroadcast on CBC.

And the show was about cooking, but the grandmothers also talked about their lives (their lives in the "old country", why they came to Canada, etc. etc.), and that's one of the things that made the show so interesting. Most, though not all, of the grandmothers were immigrants so the show focused on "ethnic" foods.

Edited by prasantrin, 23 January 2006 - 11:13 PM.


#8 srhcb

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 06:40 AM

Actually, I have proposed a similar show and been rejected over and over with the explanation that nobody is interested in old people!!!!
Maybe I should try Scorcese and start with his adorable aunt.

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I can understand where such a show wouldn't be of interest to The Food Network, (enough said?), but the concept might work on PBS.

The format could be something like the CBC production mentioned combined with some straight documentary aspects. It wouldn't be about "old people", but about how our cooking and eating traditions are transmitted, maintained and adapted through human interaction.

It's the kind of idea that would be easier to sell to an underwriter than an advertiser.

SB (wants to offer his thanks to Sara for her participation here this week) :smile:

#9 John DePaula

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 09:32 AM

I agree – this is a great idea for a series! I have made an effort to learn many of the dishes that my mother and grandmother used to cook when I was a child. I am of Sicilian heritage and there are many wonderful dishes that no one seems to cook anymore.

A show focusing on these types of "antique" cuisines could help us stay connected to our past and rediscover some old (and new) favorites.
John DePaula
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#10 srhcb

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 09:39 AM

Just an odd thought along these lines; but I wonder if the "Fusion Cooking" trend isn't somehow connected to our population becoming more heterogeneous?

A modern manifestation of the old Brillat-Savarin/Tiny Tim "you are what you eat".

SB (just musing) :rolleyes:

#11 andiesenji

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 10:32 AM

I think it is a sensational idea, and particularly for PBS where the focus of so many programs is on history. The history of traditional foods as different ethnic groups migrated to the US and how it influenced regional differences is very important. Certainly Maryann Esposito's Ciao Italia has had a number of "seasoned" cooks over the many years PBS has been presenting that show, (at least 15 years). I believe there is more interest now in traditional cooking as more and more people learn to value their ethnic/regional heritage in all facets of life and often they no longer have mothers, grandmothers or other elder relatives from whom to learn the traditional recipes and cooking techniques.
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