Caving In To Champagne

Near Epernay – Photo (c)Russell Johnson

The night they invented champagne
It’s plain as it can be
They thought of you and me
The night they invented champagne
They absolutely knew that all we’d want to do
Is fly to the sky on champagne

Lyrics from”Gigi” (1958) (Lyrics : Alan Jay Lerner / Music : Frederick Loewe)

Champagne has always been about celebration, like greeting the new year.

I had always enjoyed it, regarded it as a fizzy beverage, but never appreciated its subtleties. I had a binary rating system : zero to one…maybe a “meh” in between. I was long overdue for an attitude change.

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Kitchen Memories: Antique kitchen gadgets as art (video)

Food writer Kathleen Thompson Hill with antique eggbeaters

My father held me up to the refrigerator and pointed to the letters.

“Fri-gid-aire,” He sounded it out.

“Fwi-gid-aiwre,” I repeated.

It was my first multi-syllable word. My father took guests into the kitchen to demonstrate how highly-advanced I was.

We all have memories of the kitchen. Licking dough off of a spoon. The first time you were allowed to handle a knife.

Food writer Kathleen Thompson Hill has been collecting kitchen gizmos since the 1980s. They range from a 1790s citrus squeezer to a modern green plastic model shaped like a frog. In between is an enormous variety of choppers, squeezers, beaters, grinders, pulverizers, toasters and other devices designed to torture our foods into edible form.

“Kitchen Memories: The Kathleen Thompson Hill Culinary Collection” features a large sampling of her vast collection. I asked Kathleen if she could be considered a hoarder, to which she replied, “Hoarders don’t catalog.”

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Gourmet Magazine’s Private Dining Room

Eat Those Words!

It was a day that marks a life passage in a boy’s adolescence. It was spring and I was helping my father remove storm windows and replace them with screens. Robins mined for worms, Dizzy Dean or some other drawling baseball once-great honked from a radio, power lawnmowers chorused. We stopped and refreshed with a lemonade and he — haltingly — told me: “Son, you are reaching the age when I think it is time that you know some of the facts about being a man.”

I laughed. “Oh, I already know all of that, Dad.”

Are you sure, he replied. “Barbecue is really an art.”

I confess that I have always been more of a food voyeur than a chef, barbecue being the exception. As a child, while other kids stuffed Playboys under their mattress, I pored over Good Housekeeping, leering at juicy cuts of tender meat that looked decidedly different from the gray slabs of roast beef my mother scorched as if she were performing exorcisms.

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