Monday, May 28, 2007

Food and Celebrities

"The rich are different from you and me."

Celebrities of all ages have always had food made in their honor. After all, they were the ones who could always afford it, and blew inordinate amounts on it.

More interesting are the cases when chefs were so moved so as to name dishes after their supposed inspirers.

Opera singers used to be the Hollywood celebrities of their day and age. Escoffier goes crazy over a soprano, and we are lucky to have two dishes -- "Melba Toast", and "Peach Melba". Next century, a San Francisco restauranteur goes ga-ga, and thus was born "Turkey Tetrazzini", and more recently, "Lamb Kallas".

Movie stars are the next order of business, and hence the "Shirley Temple".

Financiers, in their own way, were celebrities of their time. Hence, "Oysters Rockefeller", and "Eggs Benedict" (the latter a hangover cure after the kind of drunken debauchery that only Wall Streeters are capable of.)

Kings and their mistresses have been naturals for scandal long before the current pileup at Windsor Castle. Thank them for the existence of "Crêpes Suzette".

And every once in a while, an artist makes his way into the culinary vocabulary -- "Beef Carpaccio". The conversion of the latter word into an adjective borders on the absurd, as it specifically refers to the pale pinks in his paintings.

The Rossini roster ("Tournedos Rossini", "Maccheroni Rossini") seems to have waned from the culinary catalog just as his music seems to have waned from the standard operatic repertoire. Perhaps shift of contemporary tastes away from foie gras also had something to do with it.

"They just don't make them like they used to."

Somehow, a "Hilton Hoagie" or a "Anna's Banana" doesn't quite cut it.

They may have the scandal but they lack the sizzle and the sex appeal. Why bother to symbolically consume something when you can get it on YouTube?

And now that chefs are celebrities in their own right, a few narcissistic names may come along. Maybe, "Puck Pockets" or "Natto à la Nobu".

The CC doubts it'll catch on though.