Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Mimi Sheraton's Family Ate

Mimi Sheraton grew up in a family that mixed traditional Jewish food with all kinds of American food. Her mother Mrs. Solomon made hot cereal on cold mornings, her own version of chopped liver, hamburger patties with egg and onion in the meat, tomato and herring sandwiches, stuffed chicken neck, sweet-sour salads, and shrimp salad. She made boiled potatoes, challah French toast, Hamantashen, and also Seafood Newburg. Her grandmother was a remarkably skilled baker, but most of her recipes were in her hands and head, and were never recorded.

Mimi Sheraton's brief reminiscences -- like her description of the progression of foods her mother gave her when she was sick in bed -- are very enjoyable, though the recipes are the main content of this book.

My own mother made many of the same dishes -- both the ones from the Jewish tradition and the ones from the American tradition. Like Mrs. Solomon, she even had envelopes full of dog-eared, food-splattered recipes that she wrote down from friends' phone instructions, newspaper and magazine clippings of recipes, and only one cook book. Despite having similar food up-bringings, though, Mimi Sheraton became a highly respected food writer and New York Times restaurant reviewer. And I didn't.

I'm glad I found a nice used copy of From My Mother's Kitchen and added it to my collection. I hope I get around to trying some of the recipes, which reflect a type of home cooking that's often neglected in the spotlights of TV food and celebrity cooking that dominate newer cookbooks.

One more thing: Sheraton generally seems to keep her age a deep dark secret. But she gave it away: she was nine years old when she fell in love with Clark Gable in the movie "It happened one night." The movie appeared in 1934. So now I know.


Jeanie said...

I love a post like this one, and these books as well, where we hear the stories as well as the recipes. (I do think you could hold your own in the NYT, you know). That's the kind of book I'd love to write.

~~louise~~ said...

I've been looking for this book for ages. My Mimi Sheraton collection is lacking many of her books. You lucky girl!!!

Thanks for sharing, Mae...