I may have told this story before on the blog, but in response to a special request from Paul on the forums to hear some personal stories about Julia Child and James Beard, I'm telling it again. 42 years ago, I worked as a secretary in the public relations department of Reynolds Metals Company. I held the key to the storage closet that contained a huge quantity of aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and it was part of my job to send them out to the press. As a special bonus, my boss gave me the present of a series of cooking classes at James Beard. Of course I was ecstatic and made sure to add Jim to the list of recipients of the foil and plastic wrap. About a decade later I became one of the founders of the New York Association of Cook School Teachers. Jim had just written another book, so we decided to hold a meeting and book signing at his home. Some of us sat in chairs; I remember sitting on the floor at his feet. We were encouraged to ask questions -- I remember mine was pertaining to my dislike of ultra-pasteurized cream. Then we formed a line to have him sign our books that we had just purchased. I was very anxious to see what he would write in mine since we had a more personal relationship than most (all that foil and plastic wrap). There were so many of us, I had to wait about 20 minutes but was rewarded with a very lengthy scrawl. I went to the side of the room to enjoy it in private. To my amazement, I couldn't make out a single word of the scribble! I brought it over to Richard Nemo, who was his assistant. (I used to be able to read my boss's handwriting better than he could read his own.) But Richard said: "You'll have to ask Mr. Beard; I can't read it either." So I stood back in line for another 15 minutes, opened the book to the inscription, and said to Jim: "What did you write here?" He studied it for a few seconds, looked up, and with a half smile said: "Damned if I know!" Lesson learned.
Guidelines for Posting a Comment
Post your comment by clicking on Comment. If you have a question, please post it on Ask A Question. If you feel one of our recipes is incorrect, please look for the recipe on our Blog Categories: BOOK CORRECTIONS to see if there has been a posted revision. (You can also copy and print off any of the pages to include with your books.)
Please do not attach any website links, your email address, or links through your name with your comments, or we will repost your comment with out any links. Also, please post your comment here, versus trying to email us privately, or we will reply by asking you to post here.