When I heard that two cookbooks owned by Marilyn Monroe were up for auction (thank-you Di and Amy for the tip-offs)
I immediately went down an enormous rabbit hole of research.
I was here, there, and everywhere in the Google Machine finding out what time the auction was, what was included in the lots, and how I could register to attend online. My friends, I registered as a bidder.
I knew I would have to sit on my hands lest I accidentally bid. When these two books were bought in 1999 they went for $45,000.
Naturally when I discovered that inside one of the books was Marilyn’s meal plan for a whole day
I immediately decided to follow it, just like I did one day back in 2019 when I lived my life like Angela Lansbury for the day.
I ate like Angela
I exercised like Angela.
and I relaxed like Angela
Man, that was a GOOD DAY!
Naturally, the thing that most excited me about Marilyn’s menu plan was the idea of staying up until 11pm to have an eggnog. I’m usually in bed with a book at 9!
Talking of books, on the internet, there are almost as many photographs of Marilyn reading
as there are of Sophia Loren cooking.
I decided that alongside the dedicated following of her menu, I would take the whole day off work and spend the run-up to the auction reading. I really wanted to get hold of a copy of this…
but this is one hell of a pricey purchase and besides, it wouldn’t have got to me in time…
But in a lovely moment of serendipity, in a second-hand bookshop in Camden on Saturday the man behind the counter knew exactly where to find a copy of this…
…so I was all set for a day of reading and possibly listening to a few records…
My research rummaging led me to the Christies auction house site and I spent ages gawping at everything listed in their big sale of Marilyn’s belongings in 1999. Here for those of you who are as nosy as I am is a glimpse of her pots and pans, kitchen gadgets, and lovely glassware. She obviously had good taste and naturally now that I know she had a set of Elysee Yellow Le Creuset pans, I want some too…
One of my other obsessions is searching to find the knitting pattern for Marilyn’s iconic hand-knitted cardigan, so I was fascinated to see that this sold for $167,500.
because that is next on my “to-knit” list after this one which had a starring role in Murder, She Wrote…
I have spent HOURS on the internet trying to find the knitting pattern for Marilyn’s cardigan to no avail. I’ve found similar ones but not THE one.
as I don’t think I’ll have the same kind of luck the brilliant Thom Kofoed did, finding this in a charity shop…
Thom is the artist who created this beautiful pic of Marilyn which I have on my bookshelf…
You should go immediately to his Etsy shop because everything he does is divine. I have this sticker of Cher on my toilet….
I went down yet another research rabbit hole when I discovered a website called The Girl Loves Vintage. Jessamine who runs the site is a seamstress who recreates vintage garments – WHAT ABSOLUTE HEAVEN. She also knits and has worked out the pattern for Marilyn’s jumper
She takes commissions for these, and I am SORELY tempted! Watch this space…
OK, enough rambling. Want to know how my day following Marilyn’s meal plan went?
I took a punt that Marilyn (or whoever put this meal plan together for her) meant something like Cream of Wheat for her “Cereal, well cooked” and luckily I’d bought a box several years ago (this is an unknown foodstuff here in the UK) for an Angela Lansbury loaf of bread experiment (it’s well past the use-by date but who cares?!)
I added stewed prunes to score 2/3 on the Marilyn breakfast front.
My bread was huge so for the “Toast (white) 2 slices, crisp with butter” I thought that one slice would probably do.
Served with a mug of weak cocoa to my mind that was all in all a pretty substantial breakfast. I was surprised that I really liked the Cream of Wheat – I thought it would bring back memories of a childhood food I disliked – semolina – but it was much nicer than that.
Before I knew it, 10 am rolled around…
Lunch was pretty substantial too.
I may have misinterpreted the selection process involved in the “either/or” way this schedule is typed up but here’s what I went for. I didn’t have any stale bread (why stale Marilyn, why?!) so I decided to have a slice of fresh bread, toasted, with a hard-boiled egg
and some spaghetti with tomatoes.
This was a bit of a revelation. I just chopped up a few cherry tomatoes and sweated them down with a tiny bit of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and lots of black pepper. That was surprisingly delicious. A lovely easy and tasty lunch dish. Thanks, Marilyn for that idea, I may do that again sometime soon.
For dessert, I took Leaves of Grass out into the garden with some jelly…
I cannot remember the last time I had jelly. It might have been when I made William Holden’s Lime Gelatine With Carrot, Olives, and Nuts (no kidding)
Can you guess who I am supposed to be?!
At 3.30 pm I was still completely stuffed from lunch and I couldn’t face another cup of milk and a cracker so I skipped that.
To be honest, I was still full when it came to thinking about getting the dinner on, but I took one for team Marilyn and got amongst it.
I am so glad I’d chosen fish ahead of time, it was the lightest of all the options and I had a lovely lemon sole fillet with half a jacket potato and some pureed carrot.
No need for the bread (man I can’t believe the APPETITE Marilyn had) but I had a clotted cream rice pudding specially purchased from Ocado so that was definitely happening.
And the thing that I’d been looking forward to all along…
MARILYN! I am going to call you Marilyn Milky Monroe from now on. SO MUCH MILK IN THIS MENU. 2 cups of milk, milk in the cereal, milk in the rice pudding, and milk/cream in the eggnog. An egg heavy menu too. CRIPES. But hey, it worked for you baby!
The bedtime eggnog is definitely a ritual I might adopt…
I felt absolutely STUFFED all day and was sure that when I stepped on the scales all that milk and bread would have bumped up the numbers but no. According to the bathroom scales I lost 1½ pounds. I do not understand this AT ALL. But maybe this kind of eating schedule helped Marilyn retain those curves?
I read about 100 pages of Leaves of Grass throughout the day. At first, I thought I wouldn’t understand ANY of it, but then it all got quite sexy so I got into it. Here’s my favourite line, “Root of wash’d sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you!”
Like me, Walt loved an exclamation point!
To round the evening off I watched Marilyn in Niagara (1953) oh man, the outfits!
I am going to adapt that left foot forward, right hip popped stance next time Mr R takes a full length photo.
At the weekend, I was telling Mr Rathbone Sr. about my plan to live like Marilyn Monroe for the day and he asked if I’d be rounding off the day posing for a nude calendar – haha! I’ll have to draw the line at that.
And the auction? I didn’t have the credentials to get in (no rubbernecking I guess) and I thought I would be waking up to see how much the books had sold for this morning but no. The auction is ongoing – they are up to lot 186 and Marilyn’s books are lot 618 I will report back.
I really, really, really enjoyed my day of reading with the occasional trip to the kitchen, but I’ll be very, very happy not to see any more milk for a while…