Guest Blogger Mary McCoy: Dvorak Cooks!
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 53
Today’s guest blogger is another one of my colleagues at the Los Angeles Public Library and a very close friend. When Mary McCoy is not being a librarian, she’s a writer, whose debut novel, Dead To Me, a YA crime noir set in 1940s Hollywood, will be published by Disney-Hyperion in Fall 2014. Mary also bears the current distinction of being one of three people to have read the completed Ann Dvorak book, and I may need to nominate her for sainthood for being the first person to proof it. On top of it all, she’s one hell of a chef, so her post could not be more appropriate. Take it away Mary!
When I read a celebrity cookbook, Iâ€™ve never placed too much faith in the fact that Iâ€™m really getting Jay Lenoâ€™s chicken wings or the lobster recipe that John Travolta whips up on a Sunday evening. Still, they can be a lot of fun, and movie star cookbooks have been around almost as long as there have been movie stars. One of the earliest Iâ€™ve been able to find, Celebrated Actor Folksâ€™ Cookeries, compiled by actress Mabel Rowland as a fundraiser for the Red Cross and Actorâ€™s Fund in 1916, includes, among other things, Theda Baraâ€™s recipe for Snails a la Mouquin and Evelyn Nesbitâ€™s Chicken Cacciatore.
I have two celebrity cookbooks in my collection that include Ann Dvorakâ€™s recipes from different points in her acting career. The first comes from 1932. It was the year she would appear in Scarface, Three on a Match, The Strange Love of Molly Louvain, and… Hollywood’s Famous Recipes of the Movie Stars: In Which 100 Screen Favorites Reveal Their Culinary Secrets, with 100 Exclusive Portraits.
The cookbook was really more of a thick pamphlet published by the Goodan-Jenkins Furniture Company, and includes Annâ€™s recipe for New England Baked Beans.
The second cookbook in my collection is a little more stylish, not to mention interesting. What Actors Eat When They Eat was compiled by freelancing actors Rex Lease and Kenneth Harlan in 1939, with a little studio assistance. Not only did they manage to get a recipe from anyone who was anyone, many of the actors provide rather lengthy preambles to their entries (especially Lionel Barrymore, who writes a pompous, yet charming ode to Fettucine Alfredo).
Ann, however, might have been more at home in the out of doors than behind a stove. One of the recipes she contributed, Salad Encino, is a mixture of raw, diced vegetables tossed in vinaigrette. The other shows her real passion: her walnut ranch. She introduces her recipe for Un-Prepared Walnuts saying,
â€œLiving on a walnut ranch, Iâ€™ve sort of experimented with walnuts and have discovered that they are delicious before they have been dried – that is, when the green pod has just begun to burst and the nut is ready to drop. I have found also that they are a delightful meat substitute.â€
The recipe itself?
â€œI arrange freshly picked walnuts (still in their popped jackets) on a plate which I have covered with large, washed walnut leaves and serve.â€
Not much of a cook, our Ann, but we love her just the same.
Thanks again, Mary!