Monday, July 23, 2012

Marion And Me

I never met Marion Cunningham and, so far, I haven't read any of her books, not even the Fannie Farmer Cookbook or the Breakfast Book, both of which I understand are classics. The closest I ever got to her was to visit her city of Walnut Creek. The only connection I can come up with is that my mother nearly named me Marion in honor of her mother.

Now, I will never have the chance to meet her or see her speak, because she has gone to culinary heaven to meet up with her old buddy James Beard. 

Still, I feel sisterhood with Marion Cunningham because she didn't turn her nose up at iceberg lettuce, and neither do I. When I was a child, iceberg lettuce was what you thought of when you heard the word "salad." This is the lettuce that, along with grapes, launched the United Farm Workers. Every restaurant worth its salt had a wedge of iceberg lettuce with Roquefort dressing on the menu. My Dad and I loved it; my mother rolled her eyes whenever we ordered it.

I still love it. There is something so perfect about crisp iceberg lettuce in a bologna sandwich that it's a once-a-year treat for me - gotta have it!  And I still love a big wedge of pale green crunch with a creamy dressing, like this one that I had last week in honor of Marion. 

I used the Green Goddess dressing that I wrote about before but I did make some changes this time. Rather than Greek yogurt, I just used plain, low fat yogurt for a little more sourness and doubled the amount of lemon juice. The result had just the right balance of creamy and tangy flavors, with the garlic pronounced but not shouting. 

So, Marion, I hardly knew ye, but I wish ye well. Thanks for a lifetime of advocating that people cook together and sit down together to eat. That simple idea is one we are losing, to our detriment. And thanks for endorsing iceberg lettuce.


Blogger namastenancy said...

Woodhouse Fish Restaurant serves a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a blue cheese dressing that is one of my guilty pleasures. I posted a link to a loving tribute to her on my column on waffles. I still have her original Joy of Cooking which is a testament to love and use.

Monday, July 23, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, I read your waffles column with interest. I think a lady named Rombauer was responsible for the Joy of Cooking, just a few years before Mrs. Cunningham weighed it with Fannie Farmer. Like you, I cherish my Joy of Cooking (in fact, I have three editions!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Oh! I thought Nancy meant she somehow has the actual print copy of Cunningham's JoC. And all I wondered was... How? So cool.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Forgot my intended comment. I grew up on iceberg, too, but right about the time it went out of style, the United Farm Workers were going on strike against picking lettuce or grapes, for unfair conditions. And Californians who agreed with them boycotted iceberg and grapes.
I only get my iceberg and grapes from the farmers market, but it's still hard to buy grapes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, I remember the lettuce and grape boycotts - I even took part in them, even though I didn't live in CA at the time, hence my reference to the UFWs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012  
Anonymous Janie said...

I don't think that I knew there was any other kind of lettuce other than iceberg until I moved to CA from New Jersey in 1973. While I don't share your loyalty to iceberg, I applaud your honesty in admitting yours in the land of multi lettuce type availability!

Saturday, July 28, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Janie, I do eat other lettuces now, too, but I never gave up my love for iceberg!

Monday, July 30, 2012  

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