Jerry’s sister Linda has taken her share of ridicule over the years for her limited skills in the kitchen. When her sons were growing up, Linda was known for cooking up a delicious — really delicious — lasagna (which is more than I can do), but that was the extent of her culinary powers. She couldn’t understand why egg whites and egg yolks needed to be separated if they were just going to get mixed up with everything else in the end. And it made perfect sense to her to just turn up the oven temperature if she needed something to cook more quickly. Interestingly, since her sons left home, Linda has actually become a very good cook. It probably just wasn’t worth the effort with two growing boys who inhaled four boxes of cereal at a sitting. In fact, many of the meals Jerry served up in recent years were recipes taken from Linda’s kitchen. But, the joke has lingered.
|“BETTY” NOW AND IN 1936.
LINDA WOULD BE A MUCH BETTER MODEL.
Over the years, Linda began to refer to herself as Betty Crocker (cultural icon, as well as brand name of mega food corporation General Mills). Betty Crocker was not a real person. She was created by the Washburn Crosby Company in 1921. The name “Betty” was selected because it was considered cheery and all-American. The name Crocker was the last name of the director of the company.
In the 1990s, our cousins Inger and Jan Olaf, and their three kids flew from Bergen, Norway to spend some time with us in San Francisco. Linda and Tom flew out for a brief visit. Inger is an exceptionally talented and trained cook and baker, and she was interested in American cooking. Linda was happy to remind Inger every chance she got that she, Linda, was Betty Crocker. One day Inger said, “But I would love to know what the real Betty Crocker looks like.” Linda helpfully framed her own face in her open hands and said, “See?”
Inger has now taken to calling herself the Norwegian Betty Crocker and I think it’s time for Jerry to claim Spain as his own.
The point of this entire story is that I am well fed, whether in Norway, the United States, or Spain. This morning,
we could not supplement our standard Greek yogurt and fruit with
tostadas from El Sanedrín, because it’s Sunday in Sevilla and therefore
no place in the neighborhood serves breakfast — if they open early
enough or at all to even serve a cup of coffee. So, Jerry said he would
“make us some eggs.”
|BASQUE SCRAMBLED EGGS.|
After completing the crossword puzzle, I headed into the kitchen to see how Jerry was doing with our eggs. I should have known after all these years that when Jerry says he’ll make us some “eggs,” I will not be presented with a simple scramble and a slice of buttered toast. (Read my post about the “eggs” Jerry threw together in July at my mother’s house if you’d like to get up to speed.) And yet he still surprises me. Gorgeous and fragrant chorizos were in a pan. A bowl was filled with a mixture of chopped green and red peppers, onion, and tomatoes. There was a beautiful slab of country-style bread sitting on a cutting board. Oh, yes, there was in fact a large bowl of eggs and a sinkful of egg shells. Jerry had cooked us up “Basque Scrambled Eggs” from his newest cookbook purchased just last week, “A Passion for Tapas.”
Last night, my resident chef used his new cookbook to serve up an amazing dinner. The main course was Chicken with Raisins and Pine Kernels (red wine vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, lemon rind, raisins, chicken breasts, olive oil — Spanish of course and two different kinds, garlic, pine nuts, parsley).
|CHICKEN WITH RAISINS AND PINE KERNELS|
The side dish was Broad Beans with Ham (broad beans, olive oil, red onion, Serrano ham, parsley).
|BROAD BEANS WITH HAM.|
Just so you know how unlike Betty Crocker I am, I just read the chicken recipe
and when I hit the instruction, “turn the salad into a serving dish,” I
thought it was a magic trick… or a miracle (like turning water into
wine, or fish into loaves of bread).
Then again, if I were running the kitchen, turning uncooked food into something cooked and edible would in fact be a miracle.