RUTH REICHL REMEMBERS A STAR – AND A WONDERFUL COOK – DANNY KAYE

danny kayeA remembrance by Ruth Reichl:

Danny Kaye didn’t cook like a star. He didn’t coddle you with caviar or smother you in truffles. He had no interest in complicated concoctions or exotic ingredients. His taste was absolutely true, and he was the least-pretentious cook I’ve ever encountered. The meals he made were little symphonies–balanced, perfectly timed, totally rounded.

That first meal began with an extraordinarily simple soup, a broth really, intensely flavored with lemon grass. It was followed by hand-made noodles so light that if you blew across your plate they would have danced in the air. These were lightly flavored with lemon. Then there was liver (“You slice it diagonally,” said Danny), wok-fried with onions and dashed to the table. “Eat it now ,” said Danny, “it won’t be any good in a few minutes.” Finally there was a lemon souffle, snatched from the oven at exactly the right moment. It was, to my mind, a perfect meal. And a daring one. There was not a single step in the choreography of this particular repast that would have tolerated a small slip; the tiniest mistake would have turned into a major tumble. But Danny Kaye, of course, never stumbled.

“I think it’s the best meal I’ve ever eaten,” I said. And I meant it. Danny just smiled. And asked me back.

A few months ago, Danny called on the spur of the moment. He was cooking and he wanted me to come for dinner. “I’d love to,” I said, “but I’ve got other plans.” “Cancel them,” he insisted. I told him not to behave like a star. “OK, babe,” he said finally. “There will be other dinners.”

I wish I’d gone.

via COOKING WITH KAYE : He Came Through When It Counted – Los Angeles Times.

8 comments

  1. George Kaplan

    Ah, I wish I could cook… Alas I’m cursed with ineptitude in that department, asking someone to eat something I’d made would constitute a form of cruel and unusual punishment. However, my talent lies in the opposite direction (except when I’m being fussy) yes I’m a good diner! Imagine, if you will, the world’s first (?!) How To Eat cookbook in which I have actual gifted cooks make the food and I…well, I eat it…the book consists of pictures of me eating the food and expressing my appreciation. Obviously, it’d sell a million ๐Ÿ™‚
    Oh, if only she’d taken up Mr Kaye’s invitation.

    • Mr. Kaplan!
      What a pleasure to see you today. I was just scheduling your missive from the U.K. about the amazing actor, and nearly centenarian, Norman Lloyd. I was befuddled by the time difference so please let me know what time (your time) you’d like the post to go up – and if you have a preferential date. Starting Monday all slots are open ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Ms Lester
    Home made noodles, a point foie and a souffle all in one meal – surely Mr Kaye was hiding the staff out of view!
    What an absolutely tremendous tale. The Dandy is something f a cook himself and this has set the creative juices running just in time for dinner…
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Danny was great and Ruth, before she moved to New York and took on the defunct “Gourmet”, was the food editor here at the L.A. Times… I have a friend who worked for her – a bigger than life character, kind of like Mr. Kaye ๐Ÿ™‚

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