Thursday, April 14, 2011

INA, I THOUGHT I KNEW YE


Y’all know I’m not a critic of much---I might mutter a zinger under my breath (sometimes quite clever ones, wasted on the air) and when I get home and think what I should have said, I can just go on and on.   But I don’t put it down in writing very often.   

And now I’m again wasting one of my turns at “CAN you BELIEVE THAT?” on a silly TV show.    I DID think better of Miss Ina, and now she’s just gone and let me down.

She donated a “lunch for six” to a charity auction---well and good and beyond the call, etc.   And the hammer fell at $100,000.00.    One Hundred Thousand.   What a windfall, and what a great thing!!

And I know it was partly for the cachet of meeting her, and of being able to say they’d dined at her HOUSE in the HAMPTONS.   And she had Mariska H. setting the table and Alec By-Damn Baldwin going to the market gardens and GATHERING the vegetables, for goodness’ sake.      SURELY a chef/cook/hostess of her stature could have done a better lunch than she made.  

I can’t imagine that even the allure of being entertained at her home could elevate that one-note, cobbled-together meal.   Foie gras and truffles were mentioned in passing, but not for such a FUN lunch---accustomed as they must be to such delicacies, it would be so much more fun to surprise these people with simple fare. 

Starter was a cold cucumber soup---cucumbers whizzed with scallions, dill, yogurt and lemon juice and two tablespoons of salt in the processor.   It was probably wonderful---I LIKE cucumber soup.

Alec had gathered corn for the salad.   Ina set down the basket on the counter, shucked a cob, and cut it right there, with the silks just raining down like doll-hair, all over the kernels, and it went on, shuck-and-cut, til the great pile on the counter resembled an abandoned blonde wig.    It was worse than the time all the Good Church Ladies had to scrub Mrs. Prysock’s backsplash and windowsill of the dried corn-cutting debris before the kitchen was presentable for the Funeral Collation for Mr. P.

Ina boiled the little shell pasta while she cut scallions, peppers, an immense amount of dill.    Into the water with the shells went the corn kernels, with silks intertwining and floating up all around, then a quick dash into the colander, poured hot into a big bowl, and the vegetables tossed on, the perfect garden-crisp freshness marred by all the steaming  heat taking place in that bowl.

Even the two pounds of lobster wouldn’t have compensated for the limp scallions and discolored dill---it was just mish-mash mounded on a plate, with a teensy dill sprig atop---that’s it.   

And so, in the soup:
3/4 c   lemon juice
2 T. Salt
1/4 c. dill
9 scallions
Shrimp on top

In the salad:
½ c. lemon juice
5 t. salt
12 scallions
1 ½ cups dill
Lobster pieces, hairy corn and peppers

It was like she had a lot of a few things, and just put together what she got out of the fridge, somehow, with no thought of how the two very similar dishes would play as successive courses.

And dessert!   I’d have eaten that dessert in a heartbeat---it was “Eton Mess,”  which I’d always heard of, and it looked divine in the parfait dishes (above).  Fun was mentioned time and again, and I know it was, just being there.    In that same Spirit of Fun, all the guests were to make their own desserts, from the fun-filled tray containing the cooked and fresh raspberries and the whipped cream still in the mixer-bowl straight off the KitchenAid.

Bought meringues?   Why not---they're easy and delicious, but tossed on the tray still in the cellophane packs like Twinkies?    It just felt Tacky.

I don’t know how long it lasted, nor how delightfully witty and fun the repartee around that table in the marvelous Garden of Ina, and they all hugged and air-kissed and thanked her profusely.    I hope they got what they came for.  But I couldn't tell if it tasted WAY better than it looked, if they just didn't know any better, or if the Empress was naked as well as Barefoot, and they just ate it and smiled because, after all, INA made it.

It was all for charity, and that’s a great and noble thing. They contributed a Hundred Thousand Dollars for that experience.  It was also a lunch I’d be ashamed to set out for a hundred  DOLLARS.

12 comments:

Jeanne said...

How interesting Rachel, you do come up with the most interesting posts. I have to agree this doesn't even sound good. Puffed pastry stuffed with chicken salad might have been a vast improvement for $100. Some wonderful beautifully prepared fruit is a lovely addition to a luncheon. Seriously, dessert should have been a wonderfully light strawberry yogurt pie. Very cool and delicious to eat. There you go...and strawberry or peach daiquiris would top a lovely luncheon off very nicely. Come visit and I will make it for you. BIG smile!
Love, Jeanne

Marlene said...

HAIRY CORN???? Yep, that's me shouting!! I would rather come to Rachel's any day!!

Chesapeake said...

I just keep wanting a "LIKE" button so I can echo others' writings! So, Jeanne and Marlene, I do LIKE your postings, and most especially the "I would rather come to Rachel's any day!" August can't come soon enough!

Patsy said...

me too!

Kim Shook said...

Corn gets in between my teeth enough without the hair, too!!! Corn is a big pain to clean properly, but if my charity is getting $100,000 for it, I'm going after it with TWEEZERS!

Joanne Kennedy said...

Wow! What else can I say. I used to love Ina and I have to admit I do own all of her cookbooks and the recipes I've tried were wonderful.

However, I lost all respect for her last Dec when I waited for hours and hours (to embarrassed to say how many) in line for her to sign her latest cookbook. Then when I got up to her, she wouldn't allow any photos, wouldn't even look up then had the nerve to ask me why I bought so many of her books. When I told her they were for gifts she said "Oh ok. I thought maybe you were going to try to sell them and up the price on ebay".

She ignored all her customers. She was a witch!

Then I heard about how she treated the little boy who is dying and went through Make A Wish and she refused to see him.

Now this. Well, three strikes and she is out of my book of good people!

Southern Lady said...

I, too, am disappointed in Ina, from the things I've heard about her recently -- especially the sad story of how she treated the little boy. And I can't believe the story Joanne told about her rudeness to her fans at the booksigning. I always thought she was such a classy and down-to-earth lady, but now I guess we all know differently.

I'd rather have lunch with Rachel and Sweetpea any day, especially if she serves some of Chris's ham!

steelersandstartrek said...

I absolutely agree. I mean, if I wanted mediocre cooking I'd stay home and do it myself.

racheld said...

And we're having that ham this Sunday for Spring Lunch---DDIL's family is having a big family gathering for Easter, so we're having our lunch this weekend. Green and white asparagus, devilled eggs, sweet potato casserole, mac and cheese for the littlest one (and because my Mother ALWAYS served it for most holidays, no matter what else was on the table).

I'm supposed to be getting ready right now, getting the tablecloths changed, the egg cup decorations out, the pass-through rid of all its other stuff, and the dining table polished and ready.

I'm not.

But you'd ALL be welcome to come share with us anytime---we'd talk and eat and have a lovely time. Is there a good egg-hider amongst you?

I'd love to sit right down with every one of you right this minute, just to talk and make some lunch and have a nice afternoon.

I'm over my grump at Miss Ina, and rather wish I hadn't been so snarky---I show that side of me only in private, where it will never see the light of day, nor reach the ears of the subject.

But that CORN!!

mustard seeds said...

Rachel, this is hilarious. I agree they didn't get what they paid for. I guess this way they can write off the entire amount to charity since they really didn't get that much of value. Ha.
Sheila

Tonja said...

I think she was tacky, tacky, tacky!

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