Dishing: Great Dishes--and Dish--from America's Most Beloved Gossip Columnist

Overview

This juicy extravaganza of a book is at once a star-studded memoir, a mouthwatering reminiscence about great food and great meals, and a very special kind of cookbook by Liz Smith, bestselling author and surely America's most beloved gossip columnist (indeed, perhaps the only gossip columnist ever to be universally beloved). Here, great dish and great dishes are artfully blended with anecdotes and spiced with Liz's inimitable sense of humor, instinct for a great story, and joie de vivre to produce a life-loving, ...

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Overview

This juicy extravaganza of a book is at once a star-studded memoir, a mouthwatering reminiscence about great food and great meals, and a very special kind of cookbook by Liz Smith, bestselling author and surely America's most beloved gossip columnist (indeed, perhaps the only gossip columnist ever to be universally beloved). Here, great dish and great dishes are artfully blended with anecdotes and spiced with Liz's inimitable sense of humor, instinct for a great story, and joie de vivre to produce a life-loving, sometimes bawdy, and always utterly captivating read.

As everybody knows, nothing goes better with a good meal than a little juicy gossip, and no one puts the two together better than Liz Smith, the acknowledged grande dame of gossip, who traces here her gradual education in haute cuisine, as well as her unashamed taste for down-home, stick-to-the-ribs cooking.

When it comes to food, Liz Smith has seen it all (and eaten much of it). She has watched Nicole Kidman devour a basket of bread before a full dinner at New York's glamorous Four Seasons restaurant and not gain an ounce. She has eaten al fresco off the hood of a car with Mike Nichols. She has been tempted by fattening cookies sent by Renée Zellweger. She has talked biscuits and gravy with Julia Roberts and eaten Elizabeth Taylor's trademark Jailhouse Chili and Chipped Beef à la Krupp Diamond.

No food snob, Liz Smith revels in such dishes as Elvis Presley's favorite sandwich (peanut butter and banana) or Frito Pie (you'll love both these once you've tried them). But she is equally fond of haute cuisine, of four-star restaurants, and of great gourmet experiences. She shares with the reader all this andmuch, much more, eating, as she puts it, "high and low on the hog," from her favorite Chicken-Fried Steak recipe to Deep-fried Turkey (real men deep-fry a turkey, they don't roast it) and her classic Lobster Rolls recipe, with a pause for her advice on how to make the perfect margarita to wash it all down. From Kate Hepburn's brownies to pigs' feet, Liz not only names names but shares their most treasured recipes, as well as taking the reader on a gourmet tour of great meals.

As Liz herself says, "Reading about food is the next best thing to eating it. People seek companionship, comfort, reassurance, a sense of warmth, and well-being from food. Maybe they can get some of that from this book."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Reading this memoir is like eating an entire bag of potato chips in one sitting: it's crisp, salty and probably bad for you, but what fun! As a follow-up to her bestselling Natural Blonde (2000), the columnist presents food gossip-timeless anecdotes of great meals and great appetites. An intimate of the Burton-Taylor m nage, Smith describes the two of them eating their way across several continents. She tells of fabulous food parties with former Texas governor. Ann Richards and Nora Ephron, two of her dearest friends. She writes whole chapters on foods like C.F.S. (chicken-fried steak), watermelon and eggplant. She writes about cocktails, etiquette and how to organize truly wonderful dinner parties. Homages to the unadorned Texan cooking she grew up on-biscuits, boiled greens, red-eye gravy, fried meat-crop up everywhere. Most chapters close with a recipe or two, ranging from unappealing (canned salmon soup) to intriguing (savory watermelon salad). While it's fun knowing what Dirk Bogarde liked to cook or what the Rothschilds served, what's really nourishing is Smith's liberated attitude toward food and entertaining. She loves to eat, and she isn't afraid of butter or bacon grease. And as for Rocky Mountain oysters or Montana Tendergroins, Smith-ever the backcountry Texan-declares, "[L]et's call a testicle a testicle." Eating can be fattening, Smith concedes, but she proves that "reading about food... setting tables in our minds" can be a guilt-free delight. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW. Agent, Joni Evans. (Apr. 5) Forecast: An author tour combined with Smith's media savvy should add up to hearty sales. S&S plans a 100,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Smith (Natural Blonde), who is known for her popular syndicated gossip column, whips up another delectable memoir for her gossip-hungry readers. Recounting her life from her modest upbringing in Gonzales, TX, to her glamorous hobnobbing with the rich and famous, Smith tempts the reader with tasty tidbits about her experiences with food, dining, and entertaining. Whether she is sharing a meal with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, attending a party hosted by Barbara Walters, or sampling some sweets from Rene Zellweger, these anecdotes reflect her joy of cooking and living. Sprinkled throughout her juicy stories are some of her favorite recipes, like Katharine Hepburn's Famous Brownies and former Texas governor Ann Richards's Chicken Fried Steak. This entertaining memoir is best served to public library patrons.-Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The venerable gossip columnist talks and eats her way through a memoir that recalls great comestibles shared with the gliterati of half a century. Liz Smith, a Fort Worth girl brought up on chicken fried steak, jailhouse chili and watermelon, must have been the advance guard of the Texan assault on the bluest state when she arrived in Manhattan in 1949. Her open good nature-and her access to print-gave her the opportunity to sup with the powerful, dine with the stars, nosh with Social Register swells and spend considerable time at the trough with assorted biggies. She describes the oysters, pastries, deep fries and high teas that nourished her at Le Cirque, Elaine's and intimate dinner parties on the Vineyard or overlooking the East River. Here's pal Liz Taylor in ravenous mode. Here's Erica Jong, Henri Soule and Elaine Strich. Nora Ephron takes over a few pages. Don't forget Mr. Forbes and "Malcolm's calm and friendly natives on his island." Names drop like lard on a hot skillet. M. Proust (one personage Liz didn't seem to encounter) evoked the past by remembering a sponge cake, but Proust never gave a recipe. Our memoirist provides many. A choice ingredient that dieters should know: bacon drippings. There's instruction in the art of the eulogy, and there's an etiquette class for children, both, like all else, a guileless stream of consciousness ornamented with aphorisms from W.S. Gilbert and Ogden Nash and sprinkled overall with oddball footnotes, like raisins. Smith maintains a sweet penchant for the inane. It might be noted that Richard Wilbur, not Sondheim, holds the copyright for the lyric "glitter and be gay," but only a grouch would demand accuracy in such a confection. Just passthe Tums, please. Good-natured fast food from the doyenne of gossip columnists. Goes well with a cold Dr. Pepper or a slug of Booker's.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743251563
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/5/2005
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Food, Glorious Food!

(As They Sang in the Musical Oliver!)

"Nearly everyone wants at least one outstanding meal a day,"

— Duncan Hines

On the other hand, I am taken with former restaurateur Dan Ho's sardonic, "I've always found it funny that we've all decided cooking and feeding are high art. Art lasts; you know what food becomes!"

Why do we want to glorify food? Food makes us fat, and in these times, being fat is not a good thing. We aren't out there anymore as field hands, warriors on horseback, or hunters and gatherers just trying to keep body and soul together with enough nourishment to sustain ourselves day-to-day. We are actively working to avoid food, with its attendant evils — fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart problems, obesity weighing down our bones and muscles, and so on. As someone has pointed out, instead of being hunters and gatherers, these days we are shoppers and consumers.

But Thackeray said, "Next to eating good dinners, a healthy man with a benevolent turn of mind must like, I think, to read about them."

Ah, reading about food. Now, that's another matter. Setting tables in our minds can be quite a lot of fun. And Clifton Fadiman noted that we are all food writers in our way, "every man...having in him an autobiographical novel....This would consist of an account of ourselves as eaters, recording the development of our palates, telling over like the beads of a rosary the memories of the best meals of our lives." He added that writing about food belongs to "the literature of power, linking brain to stomach, etherealizing the euphoria of feeding with the finer essence ofreflection."

Ford Madox Ford said that Anglo-Saxons don't really talk about food any more than they talk about love and heaven. But he certainly found food a fit subject as he deplored other forms of popular passion: "The tantrums of cloth-headed celluloid idols are deemed fit for grown-up conversation, while silence settles over such a truly important matter as food."

Well, I personally have had a lifetime of talking, writing, and lecturing about "cloth-headed celluloid idols" over fifty years in the gossip and show biz vineyard. So it has been a relief to abandon celebrity culture, infotainment, sex-drugs-rock 'n' roll and think about food. My philosophy is that you can serve people fattening food. In their hearts they'll love you for it and maybe even forgive you for it. The answer to the problem lies in not doing it too often nor to excess, and the answer also lies in the self-discipline of eaters when it comes to proportion. The great and attractive cooking of France and Italy seems rich and fattening to the diet-conscious, but it's funny, no one I know ever gains weight on vacations in those countries. You'd have to be a real pig. If one never serves anything forbidden or delicious, then it seems to me you are forcing a kind of unilateral "it's good for you" regime on your guests. We need to do unusual, wonderful things for special occasions. People must diet on their own terms and at their own times. The great New York hostesses I know always offer fabulous menus and assume their guests have common sense.

Dieting is probably the most unpleasant word in our current lexicon. It can make us awfully unhappy even as we embrace its necessity. It is noted that before he was executed in 1984, one Ronald O'Bryan ordered his last meal — a T-bone steak, french fries, salad, and iced tea. With the tea he took an artificial sweetener, not sugar. A reporter observed, "He was going for the healthy option."

Even cookbook authors get the overkill blues. Reporter Chris Howes points to disgust as "the strongest emotion seeping out of the late Elizabeth David's Christmas book. She loathed December 25 and said, " 'My Christmas day eating and drinking would consist of an omelette and cold ham and a nice bottle of wine at lunchtime and a smoked salmon sandwich with a glass of champagne on a tray in bed in the evening.'"

As the old saw goes, "Everything I like is either illegal, immoral, or fattening," and some people do associate eating as a surrogate for illicit sex — wickedly tempting, licentious, or guilt inducing. So reading about food is the next best thing to eating it. People want to eat and not gain weight just as they like to have sex without getting pregnant, but the only comparable contraceptive would be to read a book rather than eat everything or even anything described in it. Mr. Howes adds, "For consumers of food porn, cookery books are not manuals but fantasy reading — if it can be called reading."

People seek companionship, comfort, reassurance, a sense of warmth and well-being from food. Maybe they can get some of that from this book.

Copyright © 2005 by Liz Smith

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction, Including "The Strange Case of Mr. Palliser's Palate" by Ogden Nash

1. Food, Glorious Food! (As They Sang in the Musical Oliver!)

2. You Can Put Your Boots in the Oven But That Don't Make 'Em Biscuits!

3. Dishing It Up

4. Death by Mayonnaise

5. Ain't Nothin' But a Chowhound

6. Watermelon Daze

7. Watch Your Mouth!

8. Fried! In the Backseat of Cars

9. High Times, High Tea

10. "Of All the Gin Joints in All the World..."

11. The Mystique of C.F.S., Its Own Self

12. Chili Today, Hot Tomale!

13. Le Cirque de My Soul!

14. Soup to Nuts to Nora

15. O Oysters, Come and Walk with Us...(Bring Your Friends!)

16. Booze! or Make Me a Little Old-Fashioned, Please!

17. In the Lea of Lee

18. Eating with Famous Men in the South of France

19. Hospitality and Manners

20. Never Quit

21. Baby, When It's Cold Outside!

22. A Bite of History

23. Sweet Stuff

24. How to Give a Toast Without Burning It!

25. Be Italian (As They Sang in the Musical Nine)

26. When Shall We Live If Not Now?

27. Do Veggies Lack a Sense of Purpose?

28. Unbind My Asparagus

29. Kid Stuff

30. Rothschild Ragout

31. They Starve to Conquer

32. Grand Gestures

33. Those Piggyback Holidays

34. Malcolm and My Middle

35. Eating the Fainting Purple Priest

36. The Martha Matter

37. Dirty Dishes

38. A Full Plate of Thanks

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First Chapter

Dishing

Great Dish -- And Dishes -- From America's Most Beloved Gossip Columnist
By Liz Smith

Simon & Schuster

Copyright © 2005 Liz Smith
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0743251563

Chapter 1


Food, Glorious Food!
(As They Sang in the Musical Oliver!)

"Nearly everyone wants at least one outstanding meal a day,"
-- Duncan Hines


On the other hand, I am taken with former restaurateur Dan Ho's sardonic, "I've always found it funny that we've all decided cooking and feeding are high art. Art lasts; you know what food becomes!"

Why do we want to glorify food? Food makes us fat, and in these times, being fat is not a good thing. We aren't out there anymore as field hands, warriors on horseback, or hunters and gatherers just trying to keep body and soul together with enough nourishment to sustain ourselves day-to-day. We are actively working to avoid food, with its attendant evils -- fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart problems, obesity weighing down our bones and muscles, and so on. As someone has pointed out, instead of being hunters and gatherers, these days we are shoppers and consumers.

But Thackeray said, "Next to eating good dinners, a healthy man with a benevolent turn of mind must like, I think, to read about them."

Ah, reading about food. Now, that's another matter. Setting tables in our minds can be quite a lot of fun. And Clifton Fadiman noted that we are all food writers in our way, "every man...having in him an autobiographical novel....This would consist of an account of ourselves as eaters, recording the development of our palates, telling over like the beads of a rosary the memories of the best meals of our lives." He added that writing about food belongs to "the literature of power, linking brain to stomach, etherealizing the euphoria of feeding with the finer essence of reflection."

Ford Madox Ford said that Anglo-Saxons don't really talk about food any more than they talk about love and heaven. But he certainly found food a fit subject as he deplored other forms of popular passion: "The tantrums of cloth-headed celluloid idols are deemed fit for grown-up conversation, while silence settles over such a truly important matter as food."

Well, I personally have had a lifetime of talking, writing, and lecturing about "cloth-headed celluloid idols" over fifty years in the gossip and show biz vineyard. So it has been a relief to abandon celebrity culture, infotainment, sex-drugs-rock 'n' roll and think about food. My philosophy is that you can serve people fattening food. In their hearts they'll love you for it and maybe even forgive you for it. The answer to the problem lies in not doing it too often nor to excess, and the answer also lies in the self-discipline of eaters when it comes to proportion. The great and attractive cooking of France and Italy seems rich and fattening to the diet-conscious, but it's funny, no one I know ever gains weight on vacations in those countries. You'd have to be a real pig. If one never serves anything forbidden or delicious, then it seems to me you are forcing a kind of unilateral "it's good for you" regime on your guests. We need to do unusual, wonderful things for special occasions. People must diet on their own terms and at their own times. The great New York hostesses I know always offer fabulous menus and assume their guests have common sense.

Dieting is probably the most unpleasant word in our current lexicon. It can make us awfully unhappy even as we embrace its necessity. It is noted that before he was executed in 1984, one Ronald O'Bryan ordered his last meal -- a T-bone steak, french fries, salad, and iced tea. With the tea he took an artificial sweetener, not sugar. A reporter observed, "He was going for the healthy option."

Even cookbook authors get the overkill blues. Reporter Chris Howes points to disgust as "the strongest emotion seeping out of the late Elizabeth David's Christmas book. She loathed December 25 and said, " 'My Christmas day eating and drinking would consist of an omelette and cold ham and a nice bottle of wine at lunchtime and a smoked salmon sandwich with a glass of champagne on a tray in bed in the evening.'"

As the old saw goes, "Everything I like is either illegal, immoral, or fattening," and some people do associate eating as a surrogate for illicit sex -- wickedly tempting, licentious, or guilt inducing. So reading about food is the next best thing to eating it. People want to eat and not gain weight just as they like to have sex without getting pregnant, but the only comparable contraceptive would be to read a book rather than eat everything or even anything described in it. Mr. Howes adds, "For consumers of food porn, cookery books are not manuals but fantasy reading -- if it can be called reading."

People seek companionship, comfort, reassurance, a sense of warmth and well-being from food. Maybe they can get some of that from this book.

Copyright © 2005 by Liz Smith

Continues...


Excerpted from Dishing by Liz Smith Copyright © 2005 by Liz Smith. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2005

    A marvelous combo of food and fun!

    I have been a fan of Liz Smith's for years. This book is a winner. I never had so much fun. I felt as if I ate my way with her around the world. It led me to eat my first Chicken friend steak. Liz is right. Chicken fried steak is awesome! I highly recommend this book you'll lean a lot about people you always wanted to know more about. Don't miss this one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2005

    THE WARM, WITTY BOOK DU JOUR

    What's better than gossip with your gnocchi, tell-alls with your tea, or rumors with your rib roast? Everyone loves to eat and, whether we'll admit it or not, we all enjoy hearing the lascivious latest. Liz Smith, who well knows her way around a table and a tantalizing tale, has combined dish with recipes in her latest book. The title is 'Dishing,' and it's all gravy. You gotta' love a gal who schmoozes with the rich and fabulous admitting that she once took a children's course in table manners after being flummoxed by a finger bowl during lunch with Mrs. Vincent Astor. It was during this class at the Plaza that she learned the appropriate way to leave a table: '......'we must never explain why we are leaving the table if we do. Simply get up and say `Excuse me,' and fold the napkin across the back of the chair so the waiter will know you plan to return.' This came as news to the former resident of Fort Worth, Texas, whose constant childhood dish was milk toast, and where her mother insisted that she and her siblings eat watermelon in the bathtub because it was easier to hose them off afterwards. However, Texas is, as we know, where the stars are big and bright - there must have also been a lucky one for Miz Liz to be born under because one of the first to become her friend in New York City was Sirio, a waiter. Later, Sirio Maccioni would own a famous restaurant, Le Cirque. Another famous restauranteur, Henri Soule, taught her the proper way to eat caviar, and she hilariously recalls the time he gifted her with an expensive case of wine. Having no idea of the value of this rare Chateau Petrus, she served it to her friends along with chili. There's very little, whether it's food or the famous, that this author has missed. There's a memorable dinner in Paris with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and she sat with Nicole Kidman as the svelte star polished off every roll and bread in the table basket. Amongst all the glitterati with whom has she shared the most unusual meals? Malcolm Forbes. 'My first meeting with Malcolm, she writes, 'was at a private dinner given by Barbara Walters where Malcolm roared up on a motorcycle and came in wearing black tie, carrying his helmet. He offered me a ride home but I dislike flying through thin air at sixty miles an hours.' Theirs was a mutually beneficial friendship, as he enjoyed the publicity she offered his magazine while she enjoyed being a guest on his yacht and visiting the Forbes chateau in Normandy. (Who wouldn't?) Nonetheless, according to Miz Liz the most outstanding meal they shared was a breakfast at his office building which housed his museum quality collectibles. On this occasion Forbes had the table decorated with his Faberge eggs, scattered about among the napkins and silver. 'Dishing' is subtitled 'Great Dish - and Dishes - from America's Most Beloved Gossip Columnist.' And, dishes there are - recipes for everything from Elvis's favorite potato sandwich to 'Chipped Beef a la Krupp Diamond' courtesy of Liz Taylor. With her column now syndicated in more than 70 newspapers, Miz Liz knows how to write, and even though she's been thinking about 'turning her apartment kitchen into a closet,' she knows what to eat and where to eat it. 'Dishing' is a fun feast - pull up a chair and enjoy it. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2005

    Leaves you hungry........

    A very disappointing book in the end. A disjointed memoir, but not really a memoir - just kind of an incomplete stringing together of columns along with some (unappetizing) 'recipes' and vague tales of her family dinner table in Texas. Just when you think she may be onto something good the chapter ends or the subject abruptly changes. Lots of strange concoctions for mexican food. Weird and unsatisfying.

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