Guest Blogger Mary McCoy: Dvorak Cooks!

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 53

hollywood's famous recipes

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!

“Dvorak Cooks!”

When I read a celebrity cookbook, I’ve never placed too much faith in the fact that I’m really getting Jay Leno’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 I’ve been able to find, Celebrated Actor Folks’ Cookeries, compiled by actress Mabel Rowland as a fundraiser for the Red Cross and Actor’s Fund in 1916, includes, among other things, Theda Bara’s recipe for Snails a la Mouquin and Evelyn Nesbit’s Chicken Cacciatore.

I have two celebrity cookbooks in my collection that include Ann Dvorak’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 Ann’s recipe for New England Baked Beans.

ann dvorak recipe 1932

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 Dvorak 1939

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,

“Living on a walnut ranch, I’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.”

The recipe itself?

“I arrange freshly picked walnuts (still in their popped jackets) on a plate which I have covered with large, washed walnut leaves and serve.”

Not much of a cook, our Ann, but we love her just the same.

Thanks again, Mary!

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