Since the Academy Award nominations were announced today, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you a wonderful cookbook I found a few years ago when I went to California on a road trip with my friend Marisa. On our way to Hearst Castle, we stopped by the charming town of Cambria and explored its many antique stores, finding ourselves happily lost in a maze of all things old. One particular item I found was a cookbook published in 1939 entitled, What Actors Eat When They Eat. It is compiled by Kenneth Harlan and Rex Lease and is filled with personal recipes from all of Hollywood's greatest stars from the golden age of film.
It's plain to see each actor's studio had a firm hand in what was printed, but haven't you ever wondered what silver screen legends like the Barrymore's or Bette Davis ate? This book has it all. (It turns out Lionel Barrymore preferred fettucini alfredo, while Ms. Davis shares her family recipe for "Finnan Haddie a la Davis"). Each recipe is accompanied by the actor's headshot and a brief biography revealing their birth names, height, and sometimes even weight!
Leading man, Clark Gable speaks of his passion for hunting and provides a recipe appropriately entitled "Hunter's Breakfast." This dish calls for twelve doves! Judy Garland offers up her mother's recipe for "Vegetable Salad," and enthusiastically advises, "Now be sure to try it, especially if you think you don't care for vegetable salads. This one is different, honest." Cary Grant shares a recipe for "Barbecued Chicken," but warns the cook saying, "Now go to it, friends, and don't blame me if it is not to your liking. For after all, the recipe is not mine." At least he's honest.
Humphrey Bogart admits he's not much of a cook, but his favorite dessert is "Coconut Spanish Cream." Jackie Cooper gives his mother's recipe for "Curried Eggs and Macaroni," and says, "Whenever my mother wants me to have a dish that contains all the vitamins that are necessary for a young chap who is growing by leaps and bounds, this is what she serves me and boy, is it good." And James Stuart tells of how, being a young bachelor in Hollywood he soon grew tired of restaurant cooking and set out to find the best cook in town. Apparently he found her, and shares her recipe for "Pork Chops Supreme."