I love it so much when blog readers get in touch and we start up a little correspondence. It’s one of the very best things about blogging. Ellie emailed me from Exeter to chat about Rita Hayworth and Diana Dors. She told me that she had once staged a Diana Dors dinner, ending with a box of Black Magic, the luxury item Diana asked for on Desert Island Discs… I just love that, and am going to copy Ellie next time I make a Diana dish…
Ellie mentioned Pearl Bailey’s cookbook, and I remembered that I had it in the collection, but had never cooked anything from it. I got it off the shelf and read the whole thing cover to cover in two days of work commutes. I was CRYING with laughter. It’s a brilliant book. Put it on your Christmas list.
Pearl has a great way with words. The thing that made me laugh so much that I attracted the attention of several other bus passengers is a bit too rude for this blog, but here are a few of the less blue bits that also cracked me up.
On her husband eating pig’s feet and pig’s tails: He can clean that little rascal so that the white skeleton looks like it belongs in the Museum of Natural History.
On her recipe for Greasy Greens: You and all of your family will smack your chops on these goodies.
On Corn Pudding: Try some pork chops with this and see what happens. Excitement prevails.
On Baked Beef with Cheese: Just listen to the ingredients and see if your wig doesn’t flip right off.
On wearing flowing kaftans in the kitchen: Be neat in the kitchen, but not a fashion model. You may be a divine-looking creature, but that won’t matter if the old man has to call the fire department instead of eating his eggs.
Ha ha, I love this book, if you don’t have it, get yourself to your local secondhand bookshop or local library and seek one out!
Here’s Pearl’s genius method for cooking corn, seen here with sirloin covered in Xavier Cugat’s Samba Sauce…
Pearl Bailey’s Corn on the Cob, Mama-Style
“You wouldn’t think there would be much you could do about preparing corn on the cob to make it special, but Mama did it.
Put water in the pot, but not enough to cover the corn, and bring water to a boil. Lay the corn in there. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar, a bit more if you like. Now add a little milk, fresh or evaporated. Put the top on. In just a very few minutes, that corn will be tender and delicious. You will learn how long to leave it so it will be just the way you like it best. Take it out and sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. A little butter may help, but it is not really necessary if you cook it the way Mama did.”
What Pearl said was absolutely true. I usually slather loads of butter on my corn, but this didn’t need it. What a revelation!