Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marilyn Monroe: Movie Star and Chef

I read a really great article in today's New York Times today that combined three of my favorite things: Thanksgiving, cookbooks and movie stars from the 1950's and 1960's.  There is a book being published with personal letters, notes and poems that were written by Marilyn Monroe between 1943 and 1962.  On Page 180 of this collection is a recipe for turkey stuffing written on a piece of stationary from a random insurance company.  Historians and chefs alike have been analyzing Monroe's scribbled recipe: Who gave her this recipe? What do all of her notes in the margins mean?  What are the origins of the recipe itself?

The first thing that comes to my mind is an image of this beautiful woman in the kitchen making homemade stuffing.  Monroe didn't need to cook for herself.  The New York Times mentions that her worn and obviously well-loved copy of the Joy of Cooking was auctioned in 1999 for almost $30,000.  And the recipe itself is extremely tedious and time-consuming.  Monroe obviously was a dedicated and determined chef.  It's amazing how much you can learn from just one piece of paper. 

Because of the nuts, parmesean cheese and raisins in the recipe, a food historian concludes that the origins of this recipe are probably Mediterrean, most likely Italian (perhaps from her DiMaggio in-laws?).  But for me, the best part is the additional evidence that Monroe was so much more than the blonde bombshell that was her public persona.  When I read this recipe, I picture Monroe chopping nuts, shredding bread and grating cheese.  Truth be told, this little piece of information from Marilyn's life brings more insight into her true personality than almost anything else could. 

We all will leave behind items that reflect parts of our lives that were private to most people.  What do you think your written words will say about you?

Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail

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