Thursday, October 9, 2008


It starts, as if often does, with Earl Peyroux.

Peyroux's Saturday morning show, Gourmet Cooking, was my entry way into food television. I started watching it with my family at a young and impressionable age, and thus began a lifelong love of cooking shows. While the recipes on Gourmet Cooking didn't necessarily live up to the show's name, my appreciation for Peyroux stemmed more from the unintentional hilarity that ensued in each episode: his easy hand with the salt, his ability to fumble through each segment, and his sweet and earnest nature through it all.

Then there those who followed: Jeff Smith and his Frugality (and...other things), Simply Ming, America's Test Kitchen, Daisy, Bittman, Mario, and New Scandanavian Cooking ("and by..."). But there is really only one person (to this day) who can persuade me to stop what I'm doing, even on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, to sit in front of the television for half an hour. And that woman is Lidia.

I've watched Lidia for years. While people of my mother's generation speak of watching Julia Child on PBS, I -- and others from my generation -- know Lidia. From her Italian-American Kitchen, to her Family Table, and now, to her Italy, there is no place I'd rather spend my 5:30-6:00 Sunday time slot.

Which is why I got the thrill of a lifetime a few months ago when Lidia agreed to appear with me in a video promoting the Library's culinary collections. She came to the Library to discuss Italian-American food and its importance in the culinary canon, and we shot a few scenes in the Rose Main Reading Room. Then I was invited to cook stuffed artichokes with her in her kitchen.

In all honesty, I had a moment. Standing next to Lidia Bastianich in her own kitchen (where all her shows are filmed) I realized how amazing this all was and how, despite the fact that it wasn't a Sunday (or 5:30 PM for that matter), there was really no place I would've rather have been.

The following 3 minute video was a blast to make and yes, that artichoke tasted as good as it looks. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and a special thank you to Lidia: It was an honor and a pleasure, and a lot of fun.


Kate said...

That is so cool! Lidia is one of my personal heroes. How were those artichokes?

I've been reading your blog for a while and enjoying it. Thanks for posting and keep it up!

Kate from Boston

Yoko said...

What a wonderful video. I only just recently heard the podcast of Lidia's lecture at the Free Library of Philadelphia, and I am convinced that she is a remarkable person indeed.

I've enjoyed reading your blog, too. Thanks very much for sharing this.

Carrie said...

Hi Rebecca!

It's Carrie from Pratt/Vassar. I've been reading Cooked Books for a little while now and am so happy you found an interesting niche at NYPL.

Have you seen the parody Posh Nosh? I imagine you have, but just in case not, here's a link to the first episode:

Be well!

Babette, A taste of Gascony said...

hi - hugely appreciative of your blog and envious of the facilities you have at the NY library.

However, in a purely foodie context I can not help but wonder about the recipe for stuffed artichokes- how did you avoid choking on all the fine hairs in the centre/the stingy bits of the leaves?

Even with very young artichokes the fine hairs growing in the middle and topping the heart base will not 'cook away'. They retain their counter direction hook designed surface, which makes them most unpleasant to swallow.

I am genuinely intrigued to know how you are supposed to eat this recipe - do you dig out the stuffing from the stringy leaves, and then cut off the hairs to get at the heart - or do you just drink a lot of wine to drown the stringy bits and the hooked haris?

From the depth of rural SW France -hope somebody will elucidate how to tackle the actual eating - and many thanks for an alternative and very relevant angle on all things culinary. BW's Babette

Andrea said...

Bravo! That was awesome.

Megan said...

Rebecca, this is awesome!

And I love the (and by...). That's such a hallmark of PBS cooking shows.

CRD said...

Rebecca, this is awesome. Chris D.

Jud-san said...

and by...