David Bruce: Food Anecdotes

• Colonel James H. Mapleson (1830-1901) once received word that mezzo-soprano Sofia Scalchi was ill and unable to sing in an opera scheduled that night. He and a physician therefore went to Ms. Scalchi’s hotel apartment to ask what they could do for her, but just before they arrived at her door, a dinner of roast duck and lobsters was delivered to her apartment. Colonel Mapleson waited for the dinner to get started and after hearing the sound of laughter, he and the physician entered her apartment. No longer able to claim that she was ill, Ms. Scalchi sang that night.

• Two feisty Church of Christ preachers, A.G. Freed and Foy E. Wallace, Jr., were invited to dinner. Their hostess asked them if they wanted coffee. Mr. Freed was against drinking coffee, so he said, “No, I’m a Christian.” Mr. Wallace saw that this remark embarrassed the hostess, so he said, “Pour me a cup. I’m a Christian, too, but I didn’t let it make a fool out of me.”

• When George Balanchine took his New York City Ballet on tour to his native Russia, many dancers found Russian food unappetizing. Suzanne Farrell once mentioned to him that she liked the omelets, and trying to be helpful, Mr. Balanchine arranged with the Russian cooks to feed her omelets for breakfast, lunch, and supper. She ate hundreds of eggs during the tour.

• Doug Gilbert, a drama critic for the New York World-Telegram, once had a chance to get involved in theater production. He was having dinner in a restaurant with a producer who wanted to hire him, but misfortune struck. Mr. Gilbert had ordered clam spaghetti and he had his mouth full when he suddenly sneezed — his mouth opened, and the clam spaghetti flew onto the face of the producer.

• These days, people are very sanitary in their eating habits; however, early in the 20th century, they were not. When Anna Russell was growing up in England, the maid used to leave a big bowl outside, and the milkman would ladle milk into it. By the time the maid brought the milk inside the house, several flies would be floating in it, but things like that didn’t bother people back then.

• Johannes Brahms enjoyed good food. One day, his doctor ordered him to stop eating rich food. The very next day, the doctor saw Mr. Brahms in a Viennese restaurant eating a feast of very rich food. After listening to his doctor’s criticisms, Mr. Brahms replied, “Do you suppose I’m going to starve to death just to be able to live a few more years?”

• As a young woman traveling from town to town to make money by singing, Emma Abbott was often forced to eat less than she should. Once, she was so hungry that she sold her long hair in order to get money to buy food. Fortunately, she was discovered by opera singer Clara Louise Kellogg, who helped make her rich and famous.

• Dr. Samuel Johnson disliked Scotland. At a dinner party, his hostess served a Scottish dish, then asked how he liked it. Dr. Johnson said, “Madam, it is a dish fit only for pigs.” His hostess replied, “Let me help you to more of it.”

• During the Russian Revolution, food was scarce. The mother of young ballerina Illaria Obidenna Ladré got hold of some butter and used the butter as payment to Ms. Vaganova, a ballet teacher, for private lessons for Illaria.

• A little boy wondered why at every suppertime, the family had to pray for its daily bread, instead of simply praying once a week. His older brother knew the answer: “We have to pray every day so the bread will be fresh.”

• As a youngster, H. Allen Smith’s father loved bananas. Once, he got hold of an entire stalk of bananas and ate every one. For the rest of his life, he couldn’t stand to be in the same room with a banana, much less eat one.

• Queen Liliukalani of Hawaii once met Queen Victoria of England and told her that she had English blood in her veins. Queen Victoria was surprised to hear this, but Queen Liliukalani explained, “One of my ancestors ate Captain Cook.”

• Q: Who thought up the idea of serving whipped cream on iced coffee or hot chocolate? A: The Italian Domenico Barbaja (1778-1841), who made a small fortune after his drinks became fashionable.

• In his old age, Gioacchino Rossini wrote piano pieces to amuse his guests. He titled one Hors d’oeuvres; its movements were titled “Radishes,” “Gherkins and Butter,” and “Anchovies.”

• Wolf Mankowitz’ father knew one of the last African Basuto chiefs who had been a cannibal. He asked the chief what human flesh had tasted like, and the chief replied, “It was delicious.”

• Mark Twain always ate breakfast, no matter how much work he had to do. According to Mr. Twain, “When I have something that I must do before I get my breakfast, I always get up and get my breakfast first.”

• Yogi Berra was once asked if he wanted his pizza cut into four slices, or eight. He replied, “Four. I don’t think I can eat eight slices.”

• “A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.” — Samuel Johnson.

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David Bruce: Food Anecdotes

From Bruce Anecdotes

From Bruce Anecdotes

• The producers of the 1980s TV series Family Tieshad a hard time convincing NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff that Michael J. Fox was a good choice to star as Alex P. Keaton, the greedy Republican kid. Mr. Tartikoff argued, “The kid’s good, but can you see his face on a lunchbox?” Family Ties, of course, became a huge hit, as did Mr. Fox’ Back to the Futuremovies. The producers of Family Tieseventually gave a Michael J. Fox lunchbox to Mr. Tartikoff, along with a note: “Dear Brandon, this is for you to put your crow in.”

• Once in a while, William M. Gaines, publisher of MADmagazine, would invite all the artists and writers to a dinner in a fancy restaurant. (This was a very good idea, as it allowed people—many of them freelancers who just stopped by once in a while to drop off material—to get to know each other. Because there were so many MADmagazine employees, they would ask the waiters if they could push some of the tables together. Once given permission, they would quickly form a circle of tables around the waiters, leaving no exit.

• American movie producer William Fox grew up poor. Once, when he was small, his family sent him to the butcher to “borrow” a pound of meat. The butcher smiled, gave him the meat, and then asked when the little boy was going to return the favor. Little Billy promised when he was a big man that he would see to it that the butcher was taken care of. After he grew up, he gave the butcher a high-paying job to provide meat for the movie stars at Fox’s movie studio.

• Jane Schmidt awoke one Saturday morning to discover that her husband was making breakfast. To show that she appreciated his thoughtfulness, she sat on his lap and gave him a hug. Later, in the afternoon she and her husband were having a “heated discussion” when their four-year-old son walked in and said, “Mommy, try to remember how you felt when you were on Daddy’s lap.”

• At the Grand Hotel in Venice, Robert Benchley discovered that his room was next to the kitchen, and by listening carefully he could hear what the cooks said about the various dishes the customers were ordering. The cooks praised certain dishes, and deprecated other dishes, so Mr. Benchley was able to learn which dishes to sample and which dishes to avoid.

• Richard Watson, a philosopher, used to love to eat cheap candy while reading. He frequently ate one pound of candy at a sitting — and he didn’t even notice when the manufacturers starting producing 24-ounce bags of candy. In fact, he remembers once sitting down with a 2-pound bag of candy orange slices and a book and eating every candy orange slice. (Eventually, he started jogging and maintained a healthy weight.)

• Gioacchino Rossini was a big eater. Unfortunately, he once dined at the home of a host who served small portions. After the dinner of small portions had been served, his host said, “I do hope you will soon do us the honor of dining here again.” Mr. Rossini replied, “Certainly. Let’s start now.”

• Bernie Fein was the co-creator of TV’s Hogan’s Heroes. He borrowed the name of the lead character, Colonel Robert Hogan, from an actor friend of his, whom he cast in the series’ 15th episode. In gratitude, Mr. Hogan shared a real “Hogan’s Hero” with Mr. Fein — a 5-foot hero sandwich filled with meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomato, and spices.

• During World War I and immediately after, food was in short supply in Germany. Walter Slezak moved from Germany to begin acting in Holland, where he rejoiced to learn that food was plentiful. To celebrate, he went into a restaurant and ate 11 servings of a favorite treat — whipped cream with powdered sugar. (Yes, he was a little heavy.)

• In the days of the buffalo hunters, the professionals were tormented by the antics of the amateurs, who didn’t know what they were doing and made a mess of things for everybody. Eventually, the professional hunters gave the amateur hunters all the meat they wanted so that the amateurs wouldn’t scare all the buffalo away.

• Buddy Hackett was guesting on Jack Paar’s Tonight Showwhen Mr. Paar did a live commercial for Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer. Mr. Hackett interrupted the commercial: “I tried it, but I had to give it up. I eat slow, and it was tenderizing my lips.”

• Donald Houston was asked his opinion about the survivors of an airplane crash who had resorted to cannibalism to survive. He replied, “I think they started off on the wrong foot.”

• Australians swear by this recipe for cockatoo: Put the cockatoo and an ax-head in a can, then boil until the ax-head is soft. At that time, the cockatoo is ready to eat.

• James Boswell once asked Dr. Samuel Johnson whether good cooks were more essential than good poets. Dr. Johnson replied, “I don’t suppose that there is a dog in town but what thinks so.”

• Mark Twain once put a spoonful of very hot soup in his mouth and then turned his head and spit it out. He then remarked to his friends, “Some darn fools would have swallowed that.”

• Professional musicians are often asked to entertain at the dinners they attend. A wealthy society woman asked Fritz Kreisler to come to her dinner and to bring his violin, but he replied, “My violin never dines out.”

• At a dinner Herbert Cardinal Vaughan asked Rabbi Hermann Adler, “When may I have the honor of serving you some ham?” Rabbi Adler replied to the cardinal, “At Your Eminence’s wedding.”

• According to Reuben “Bud” Robinson, a pig eats so much not because he’s greedy, but because he’s trying to make a hog of himself.

• I’m a self-made man. It took a lot of pasta dishes to get where I am today.” — overweight actor James Coco.

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David Bruce: Food Anecdotes

From Bruce Anecdotes

• As a small boy, Louis Nye was very thin, and his Jewish mother took him to an Irish physician who said that to fatten up her son she needed to serve him bacon. This was very shocking, because kosher bacon was unknown. However, his mother asked advice from his grandmother, who unhesitatingly recommended that for the boy’s health she should follow the doctor’s advice. His mother therefore purchased new kitchenware so that she wouldn’t cook and serve bacon on her kosher kitchenware. Whenever she fried bacon for her son, all three of them — grandmother, mother, and young son — used newspapers to waft the smell of frying bacon out of the kitchen window. (By the way, the bacon worked — Louis was a healthy-looking boy at his bar mitzvah.)

• A pastor friend of Wesleyan preacher William Woughter once forgot that he had two dinner invitations the same day. The early dinner went fine — the kind couple who had invited him to dinner took him to a special restaurant where they insisted that he eat a special dessert. After dinner, however, he went back home and immediately there arrived at his door a second couple to take him out to eat. This kind couple took him to the same special restaurant where they insisted that he eat the same special dessert. The server looked at him strangely, but fortunately she didn’t say anything to give him away. However, the pastor did pay for not writing his dinner invitations down — after the second dinner, he never before in his life felt so bloated.

• As a child, Abbe Lane often visited her paternal grandmother for the weekend. Her grandmother was thrifty, and she found a subtle way of making young Abbe clean her plate — anything that Abbe didn’t eat at breakfast appeared on her plate for lunch, anything that Abbe didn’t eat at lunch appeared on her plate for dinner, and anything that Abbe didn’t eat at dinner appeared on her plate for breakfast. Years after growing up, Ms. Lane says she orders small servings at restaurants out of a fear that if she doesn’t clean her plate she will have to eat the leftovers at her next meal.

• While on tour, Merce Cunningham and his dance troupe stopped at the Brownsville Eat-All-You-Want Restaurant, where they wolfed down food in huge quantities. (Dancer Steve Paxton ate five pieces of pie for dessert!) Mr. Cunningham asked the cashier how the restaurant managed to stay open, and she replied, “Most people don’t eat as much as you people.” On another tour, they stopped at a place that advertised homemade pies. Before the dance troupe left the restaurant, they heard the servers telling the regular pie-eating customers, “I’m sorry — we don’t have any more.”

• Alka-Seltzer once had a very funny TV commercial in which a man making a commercial for spaghetti and meatballs keeps blowing his line — “Mamma mia! That’s some spicy meatball!” — take after take, forcing him to consume more and more meatballs and causing indigestion that is of course cured by Alka-Seltzer. In real life, the man making the commercial, Jack Somach, suffered through 175 takes, requiring him to bite into 175 meatballs. He skipped lunch and dinner that day.

• For many years, Arturo Toscanini and Geraldine Farrar had an affair. After the affair ended, Ms. Farrar had a party at which Toscanini was invited. At the party, she served caviar, which pleased everyone except Toscanini, who complained, “I slept with that woman for seven years. Wouldn’t you think she’d remember that I hate fish?”

• At one time real food was considered to be unlucky on stage, and so actors ate some very unappetizing “food” items. For example, “bacon” consisted of strips of bread coated with gravy, “tomatoes” consisted of circles of bread colored red, and “fried eggs” consisted of circles of bread with a little mustard in the middle.

• Tommy Morgan was a Scottish comedian. While staying in a Belfast hotel and treating some friends in the hotel restaurant, Mr. Morgan was treated like the celebrity he was, and a waiter asked, “Will you be having a bit of partridge, Mr. Morgan?” Mr. Morgan replied, “A bit! What do you mean — a bit! Bring us a whole one each.”

• Russian baritone Feodor Chaliapin sometimes grew weary of hostesses who invited him to dinner, then pressured him to sing for the other guests. He told one such hostess, “If you ask me to dinner, you feed me. If you ask me to sing, you pay me.”

• William Burroughs’ novel Naked Lunchreceived its title from novelist Jack Kerouac. According to Mr. Burroughs, “The title means exactly what the words say. NAKED lunch — a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”

• Gertrude Stein wrote the autobiography of her friend, Alice B. Toklas; however, Ms. Toklas did write the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. This book describes meals with famous painters and authors — it also includes a recipe for Haschich Fudge.

• As a very young ballet student in the Soviet Union, Natalia Makarova flirted with a handsome boy by saying that she could eat six quarts of ice cream. However, when she tried to do it, she disgraced herself —she was able to eat only four quarts.

• The Roman emperor Claudius died after eating poisoned mushrooms. Afterward, he was deified. His successor, Nero, thereafter referred to mushrooms as “the food of the gods.”

• The great dancer Bill Robinson, aka Mr. Bojangles, had a serious weakness for vanilla ice cream, and reportedly ate four to eight quarts per day.

• “Reciting part of a sutra with the desire to benefit others is like reciting a recipe in the hope that it will prevent people from starving.” — Zen master Bassui.

• “The sight of someone eating will not appease your hunger. The spiritual experiences of others cannot satisfy your yearning.” — a traditional saying of Sufism.

• Ludwig van Beethoven had a terrible temper. He once dumped a dish of veal and gravy over a waiter’s head.

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David Bruce: Food Anecdotes

For a party, gay author Joel Perry ordered a turkey to be prepared by HoneyBaked. Unfortunately, when he arrived with his reservation number to pick up the turkey, he was informed that it had already been sold. One other turkey was on display, so he asked if he could buy it, but the salesperson informed him that someone else was buying it. A gay man expecting 20 people for dinner is not to be trifled with, so Mr. Perry jumped over the counter, grabbed the turkey, threw down $50, and dashed out of the store.

Often, gymnasts from other countries have liked American junk food — sometimes way too much. At a 1977 exhibition, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci gave American gymnast Jackie Cassello a $20 bill, then whispered to her, “Chocolates, doughnuts, Cokes, candy bars ….” And in 1973, at the Chunichi Cup, American gymnast Joan Rich helped satisfy Soviet gymnast Ludmila Tourischeva’s sweet tooth by using a rope to lower Coca-Colas from her hotel window two stories below to Ms. Tourischeva’s window.

Ed Asner, who played Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, kept kosher as a child, but gave it up later. Forum magazine once asked several celebrities, “Did you ever have a sensual or emotional experience that caused you to exclaim, ‘That’s better than sex!’” Mr. Asner replied, “My first pork tenderloin sandwich.” He ate his first pork tenderloin sandwich in Kansas, where it was difficult to obtain kosher food. He says, “I took a bite, and it was ambrosia. I could have died for the elegance of that taste.”

Comedian Flash Rosenberg’s mother brought her up to be analytical. For example, if she refused to eat her peas, her mother wouldn’t just let her say that she didn’t like peas. She had to have a reason whyshe didn’t like peas. So she would say, “I don’t like the way the skin is kind of tough and the inside is kind of mushy. I just don’t know how to get my teeth ready.” And her mother would reply, “That’s a good reason,” and so young Flash didn’t have to eat her peas.

Because an aged Catholic priest had become deaf, people going to confession were accustomed to write out their sins on a piece of paper and pass the paper to him in the confessional. One day, a sinner slipped a piece of paper to the priest. The priest read the paper — “Fish sticks, two cans of beans, bread, milk” — then passed the note back to the sinner. The sinner looked at the note, then exclaimed, “Mother of God, I’ve left my sins at the grocery store.”

Cynthia Kahn owned a small sweets shop that competed with a national chain. In fact, she was winning the competition. Reporters asked her for the secret of her success, and she explained, “In the other store, when customers order a pound of candy, the salesgirls scoop up more than a pound of candy, then they start taking away. In my store, I scoop up less than a pound of candy, then start adding.”

For a book, Susan Horowitz interviewed Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Phyllis Diller, and Joan Rivers. Of course, her friends asked her what these celebrities were like in real life. She says that they were all nurturing women — Lucy fed her tea and cookies, Carol gave her a big lunch, Phyllis gave her a huge fruit basket to take home, and Joan cooked scrambled eggs and toast for her.

Umpire Eric Gregg is black, and sometimes his color played a role in his life as an umpire. One game, when he was behind home plate in Atlanta, a fan yelled at him, “Boy, I’ve got this big watermelon, and every time you miss a pitch, I’m gonna take a bite.” As the game progressed, the fan kept Mr. Gregg informed about how much smaller the watermelon was growing.

“Our government has thrown away about 150 billion dollars on the Hubble space telescope. Already it has discovered a third moon over Neptune. I just wish I was there when they broke this news to the Ethiopian children just to see the smiles on their little faces.” — Teddy Bergeron.

Jay Leno was kicked out of an apartment by a roommate early in his career. The roommate saw Mr. Leno washing dishes with the same sponge that he had earlier used to clean the toilet. This didn’t bother Mr. Leno, who figured “a sponge is a sponge,” but the roommate shouted at him, “Get out!”

Wally Frederick, a friend of Peg Bracken, once hosted a luncheon for 30 at the Tour d’Argent. After the luncheon, two rows of waiters appeared, with each waiter holding his hand out for a tip. Smiling broadly, Mr. Frederick walked down the two rows and shook each waiter’s hand.

Often, the first thing two deaf people do when they go to a nice restaurant is to remove the centerpiece so they have an unobstructed view of each other’s hands. (In addition, they make certain that the restaurants they go to are well lit.)

Elizabeth Alexander’s mother once said, “It’s not hard to lose weight. You just eat no sugar, no carbohydrates, and half of everything else.” Elizabeth’s little brother replied, “But there is nothing else.”

During World War II, Spike Milligan knew an army cook who had started wearing a monocle as a precautionary measure after an unfortunate accident in which his glass eye fell into the porridge.

Enrico Caruso played many practical jokes. Once when a soprano was belting out an aria, he looked into her wide-open mouth and asked, “How would you like a nice, juicy steak?”

After woman jockey Joan O’Shea lost a race, a man in the crowd yelled to her, “Go home where you belong and cook dinner!” She replied, “I can’t cook, either.”

“If you actually like me, you’ll invite me to lunch when it isn’t Brotherhood Week.” — black comedian Dick Gregory.

“I hate restaurants. I eat at home. I go to the butcher in the morning and buy steaks by the yard.” — Constantin Brancusi.

“A hungry man is not a free man.” — Adlai Stevenson.

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David Bruce: Food Anecdotes

Polar bears like to eat ringed seals. Often, a polar bear will find a breathing hole in the ice — a place where the ice is broken and where underwater ringed seals swim to breathe. If the polar bear is lucky and the ringed seal is unlucky, when the ringed seal comes to the breathing hole, the polar bear will pounce and enjoy a meal of ringed seal. Polar bears also sometimes sneak up on a ringed seal sleeping on the ice. If the ringed seal wakes up, the polar bear will hide its black nose with a white paw, then keep still and try to blend into the snowy environment until the ringed seal goes back to sleep. When the polar bear gets close enough to the ringed seal, it pounces on it and eats it. In addition, polar bears sometimes find a ringed seal’s den in the snow. When that happens, the polar bear will jump up and down on the roof of the den until it collapses, then feast on the ringed seal.

In 1769, the first mission in Alta California (now the state of California) was founded; it was called San Diego de Alcalá and was protected by soldiers. Unfortunately, times were rough, food grew scarce, and the soldiers even ate their mules for food. Captain Gaspar de Portolá had requested that a supply ship bring them food, but the supply ship was slow in coming. Finally, Captain Portolá ordered the missionaries to abandon the mission if the supply ship had not arrived by March 19, 1770. On that date, the ship was seen, but it continued to sail northward. Captain Portolá again wanted the missionaries to abandon the mission, but Father Serra argued that the ship was a sign that they ought to stay. In a few days, the ship, loaded with food and supplies, sailed into the San Diego harbor, saving the mission.

In 1903, while Mother Jones was leading a march to New York City of children employed in mills in Philadelphia, she and the children relied on donations of food to live on while they marched. Basically, they ate whatever they were given. One morning, they ate ice cream for breakfast. One evening, a hotel owner invited all of them to come to his hotel restaurant and order whatever they wanted — at no charge. Farmers used to meet the marchers, taking along a wagon full of produce to give to them. Once, some police officers were ordered to keep the marchers out of a certain town — the officers ended up giving the children lunches made by their wives.

In 1983, author Gary Paulsen first competed in the 1,049-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska. At one point, he had to feed most of his own food to a sled dog that had stopped eating the food he carried for his dogs. This meant that Mr. Paulsen had to survive on only butter until he reached the next checkpoint — where he ate 19 bowls of chili made with moose meat. (By the way, no one is really sure how many miles they travel in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The Iditarod Trail is definitely more than 1,000 miles long, but when people say the Iditarod Trail is 1,049 miles long, the “49” is in honor of Alaska’s being the 49th state.)

One morning, President Theodore Roosevelt sat down to a breakfast of sausages with a book in his hands. The book was The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, and President Roosevelt read, “There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage … meat on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of germs … meat stored in great piles … and thousands of rats would race about on it.” President Roosevelt screamed, “I’m poisoned!” — then he threw his breakfast sausages out a White House window.

In 1947, the All American Girls Professional Baseball League went to Cuba for spring training. There they played several exhibition games against the Cuban women’s team, Las Cubanas. However, on May Day, the players were not allowed to leave their hotel rooms because different Cuban political factions sometimes fought on that day and so the streets might not be safe. The only way the players could get food was by lowering baskets to Cuban boys playing in the street and paying them to load the baskets with food.

As pioneers traveled from east to west across North America in covered wagons, often they had very little change in their diets. One pioneer woman with a sense of humor wrote that about the only change in the diet of her and her family consisted of eating bacon and bread instead of bread and bacon.

Poet Nikki Giovanni, author of “Ego-Tripping,” believes in family, and she also believes in being prepared. She feels that grandmothers ought to know how to bake cookies and other goodies for children, and when she realized that she would soon be a grandmother, she learned how to bake.

When members of the Native American tribe of the Ojibway (also known as Chippewa) gather wild rice, their sacred food, they take only as much as they need. They know that the rest of the rice will be used. Birds will eat it, and it will provide the seed for next year’s crop of wild rice.

At the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, located at the South Pole, food is kept in a walk-in refrigerator. Unlike ordinary refrigerators, however, the South Pole refrigerator is kept heated so that the food doesn’t freeze.

Allison, an eight-year-old girl being homeschooled in Minnesota, likes to eat “ants on a log.” To make this treat is easy: Put some peanut butter on a stick of celery, then put some raisins on the peanut butter. (Yummy.)

Eight-year-old Nicole liked to eat spaghetti, but she liked to slurp her spaghetti — eating spaghetti in a polite way is no fun. That’s why she stopped ordering spaghetti in restaurants.

Some of the work that Debbi Fields of Mrs. Fields’ gourmet cookies does sound interesting. In a single day, she once tasted 800 brownies in an attempt to find the perfect brownie recipe.

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David Bruce: Food Anecdotes

Ann Cooper gave up her 30-plus-year career as a chef to start cooking healthy meals for schoolchildren in Berkeley, California. She prepares roast chicken, not chicken nuggets, and she prepares roast potatoes, not Tater Tots. In addition to this work, she wrote a book titled Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children. All of this is an effort to reform school lunches to make them healthy. The lunches she prepares are seasonal, fresh, and mostly organic, as opposed to frozen, fried, and sugary. She says, “I want to change children’s relationship to food.” As director of nutrition services for the Berkeley Unified School District, she ensures that 95 percent of the cafeteria food is made from scratch. Previously, 95 percent of the cafeteria food was processed. Some students were resistant to eating the healthy food at first. She says, “I have received hate mail. Kids speak up if they don’t like something.” Some fifth-graders even told her, “Ms. Cooper, we hate your food. We’re going on a hunger strike.” They told her that they especially disliked her grilled-cheese sandwiches, which were made from whole-wheat bread and cheddar cheese. She invited them into the kitchen and taught them how to make bread and gave them various kinds of cheeses to taste. Eventually, their taste buds developed, and they told the next group of fifth-graders, “You are so lucky. We fixed all the food here for you.”

Iggy Pop is an open interviewee. In a 1997 interview, he talked about his diet, which he does not regard as especially healthy: “I eat steak, I like a lot of butter on my toast, I like a lot of eggs, and I fart constantly, all day.” However, Iggy does practice chi kung, which are Chinese exercises. By the way, his chi kung teacher is in many ways a regular guy. In the same interview, Iggy said, “It’s funny because everyone expects him to be a vegetarian and very holy, but he’s not. He liked to get f**ked and eat steaks, and he likes money—a lot. He’s a guy, you know. He can also kill you in 800 different ways, but he’d rather just take your money legally. He’s like that.”

Southern Culture on the Skids (aka SCOTS) is a band that often asks audience members to come on stage and dance for fried chicken. The genesis of this came when the owner of a club they were playing in gave them a bucket of fried chicken. The chicken was on the side of the stage as they played, and a homeless man came into the club, saw the fried chicken, and started eating it. The band members told him, “Hey, that’s our dinner, and if you want some of it, you at least have to get up here and dance with us.” The audience loved this, and SCOTS kept it in the act. Bass player May Huff says, “It’s good to feed a hungry crowd.”

After Jeff Bridges attended the 2011 Global Globes awards program, he gathered up a lot of the leftover food. Why? An anonymous source for National Enquirer writer Mike Walker says, “When Jeff finally got into the limo, he directed his chauffeur to a freeway underpass on the outskirts of LA. When they pulled up, Jeff hopped out, waved a band of about a dozen homeless people over to the car—then started handing out the bags of food. After chatting a while, the star—who’s actually made several trips to the same underpass, passing out warm bedding and clothing as well as food—got back in his limo and took off as the homeless people applauded and cheered!”

In August of 1975, 5-year-old Debbie Gibson, future pop singer and writer of “Lost in Your Eyes,” celebrated her birthday at her favorite restaurant—one that her family ate at twice a year: Christmas and Debbie’s birthday. The restaurant allowed kids under age 12 to eat free, and Debbie ordered a very big, very expensive lobster, which she ate all by herself. She says that she looked a lot fatter walking out of the restaurant than she did walking in. She remembers, “Next time we went back, they had a special kids’ menu. They wouldn’t let little kids order from the big menu anymore—and that was because of me!”

Trisha Yearwood displays a good sense of humor in her cookbooks. She writes that her recipe for Cowboy Lasagna “Serves 12 regular people or 1 hungry cowboy and his wife!” (She is married to fellow country singer Garth Brooks. He requested a “heartier, meatier lasagna, and Cowboy Lasagna, with its sage-flavored sausage and pepperoni, is the result.) She also writes, “Our daughter August isn’t a chocolate fan (insert audible gasp here!).” And, of course, she named one of her cookbooks Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen. (She grew up in Georgia, and her husband grew up in Oklahoma.)

Many, many Lady Gaga fans waited a very long time outside a store in Los Angeles so they could get her autograph in November 2009, so she did a good deed for them. She paid over $1,000 (and added a big tip) for 80 cheese pizzas for her fans to eat, and she tweeted, “Sending all my little monsters little pizzas for waiting all night for me at Best Buy. I hope you’re hungry … eat up I love u! To all my beautiful fans, I love you more than anything. Thank u 4 making the fame monster number 1 on itunes. You are the only reward I need x gaga.”

According to an article in Life and Style, John Mayer did a good deed in New York City on December 1, 2009. A witness told the magazine that a homeless man asked Mr. Meyer for a quarter, but he offered to buy him some food instead. When the homeless man asked him for a roast beef sandwich from lower Manhattan’s Katz’s Delicatessen, Mr. Mayer replied, “I’ll buy you two—let’s go.” The homeless man changed his mind, suggesting instead, “Maybe a pizza?” Mr. Mayer then bought him a pizza at Rosario’s Pizza.

“Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”—Jim Davis

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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David Bruce: Food Anecdotes

Carl Reiner once joined a group of friends who were dedicated to eating very good Chinese food and had formed an informal group for that purpose. The biggest eater among the friends was Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22. At a restaurant, everyone sat down, but then the friends insisted that Mr. Reiner sit in the seat of honor: the one with its back to the kitchen. This struck Mr. Reiner as odd, and he asked whether this was a tradition. Mr. Heller explained, “Traditionally, honored guests, who aren’t accustomed to seeing a rat scurry across a kitchen floor, don’t seem to enjoy the evening as much as those of us who are accustomed to the intrusion.” When the soup was served, Mr. Heller announced, “This is a special night, and in honor of my guest, I will serve.” He served himself a generous helping of soup, then gave the ladle to Mr. Reiner and said, “Now you serve.” Mr. Heller had conceived an ingenious way of ensuring that he got his fair share of soup even on those occasions when perhaps not enough fair servings existed for everyone. Mr. Heller also created the touch-rice rule, which applied to everyone but himself. According to this rule, eaters had to eat a mouthful of rice after eating a mouthful of the expensive stuff from the communal dishes. Because this rule did not apply to Mr. Heller, it helped to ensure that he got his fair share of the expensive stuff. Mr. Reiner had a great time on that evening: he ate good food, he laughed long and loud with good friends, and because his back was toward the kitchen, he saw the rat only once. By the way, after the meal, Mr. Heller asked to be driven by the theater marquee that stated, “They Bombed in New Haven: A New Play by Joseph Heller.” Looking at the marquee, he said, “Just wanted to see my name up there. I never thought I’d be on a Broadway theater marquee, and there I am! It’s very exciting! Don’t know how long the play will run or if I’ll ever write another one, so if you guys don’t mind—a couple more minutes?”

Amelie, the daughter of Lars Gronholt, sometimes did not eat her lunch, so he began to draw cartoons featuring superheroes who encouraged her to eat her lunch. In one cartoon, Thor bites into a sandwich, raises it high in the air, and says, “This sandwich—I like it! Another!” In a comment on a story about Amelie and Lars, a woman who posts online using the name Napsauce wrote, “When I was in first grade, my dad drew on my lunch bags. Every single day, I got a new, full-color installment of ‘The Adventures of Lunchman in Lunchland,’ along with Lunchman’s trusty sidekick, Alphonse the Armadillo. After lunch, I would carefully cut the illustration off the bag and paste it into a book. At the end of the school year I surprised him with the book of all his illustrations … and 34 years later, he still has it, yellowed, faded, and a little crumbly, but still incredible. I was a lucky, lucky little girl.”And GiantRubberGorilla wrote, “I used to take oranges and with my fingernail carve out two eyes and a smile—then I’d hand it to the kid and say—‘Here. Tear off his face.’ She loved it.” And BigDaddy-O wrote, “I do a funny joke every day in my grade schooler’s lunchbox. Something like: Q: Why did the rubber chicken cross the road? A: She wanted to stretch her legs. Then I say Love, Papa! I missed one day of doing this, and she was really put out! ;}”

My Uncle Reuben, who was born in the late 1920s, spent a few years on a Georgia chain gang while he was in his teens. After he was released, he spent time as a homeless wanderer. Of course, he was broke and hungry a lot of the time, and he begged. Once, when he was broke and hungry, he went to a cafeteria and asked to speak to the manager. He explained to the manager that he was broke and hungry, and the manager told him to sit down. The manager then loaded a plate with food and gave it to him. Uncle Reuben acquired skills in working with sheet metal, got a good job, and raised a family. He has given money to homeless people who say that they are hungry, and he has taught his children to do the same thing. He is aware that not all homeless people will spend the money on food, but he does not let that bother him. Being too careful about giving away money to homeless people can mean that some hungry people stay hungry.

One of the stories about bald-headed movie director Cecil DeMille and the making of The Ten Commandments concerns a shot with a thousand extras. Mr. DeMille spent all morning setting up the shot. He was ready to shoot it when he spotted a female extra talking to the person next to her. Angry, he said to the extra, “I asked for silence, and you continued to talk. What you have to say must be more important than what I’m doing here. So I want you to share with all of us what it is that you were saying.” He made the extra speak into a live microphone connected to several loudspeakers: “Speak right into the mike. Tell us. Tell us all. Or I’ll make certain you never work here again.” The female extra said into the mike, “I was just telling another extra that I was wondering when the bald-headed bastard with the microphone was going to call lunch.” Everyone was silent, and then Mr. DeMille said into his mike, “Lunch.”

A sign in a Canadian store stated, “ATTENTION, SHOFTLIFTERS. YOU ARE IN CANADA. THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO STEAL FOOD HERE. READ INFORMATION BELOW FOR ACCESS TO FREE FOOD PROGRAMS.”

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” — Julia Child

“I always cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.” — W.C. Fields

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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