Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Dishing on the Go with Liz Smith: The Legendary Columnist Spills the Beans on Her Fave Eats and Eateries

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Dishing on the Go with Liz Smith: The Legendary Columnist Spills the Beans on Her Fave Eats and Eateries

Article excerpt

Atkins, shmatkins. Legendary gossip columnist Liz Smith grew up on grits and gravy and chicken-fried steak, and fortunately for us, she's not about to switch sides now. Smith's new book, Dishing, is stuffed with high-carb recipes plus delicious tales of the celebrities she's faced across dinner tables at her favorite restaurants around the world--all recorded with that breezy much that marks Smith as a superb storyteller. Speaking to The Out Traveler from her Manhattan office, the 82-year-old out Texan tornado sums up her down-to-earth viewpoint this way: "I've had a wonderful life--but I've managed to keep myself anchored to the low part of the hog, I think."

You write about food as being fun and joyful, and for so many people I know, food seems to be the enemy nowadays. Well, I guess food can become the enemy. But I love to eat.

You just know when to quit. [Laughs] Not really.

In your book you write about great restaurants in several corners of the world. Could we talk about some of the restaurants where you've had good food adventures? I'm telling you, there's a place in Fort Worth, Texas, called Joe T. Garcia's. It's on the north side of Fort Worth on the way to the meatpacking district, and it's been there forever and ever. And it is, I think, one of the greatest Tex-Mex restaurants in the world. You can eat outdoors. And you have to enter the restaurant through the kitchen, so when you go in you already see them cooking.

In your book you describe coming in through the kitchen and watching a woman make tamales by hand. That's another place--La Posta, which is right at the junction between New Mexico, old Mexico, and Arizona. It's where they shot Billy the Kid. That's where you can watch them make tamales, with headcheese mixed with masa.

I have to admit, I don't exactly know what headcheese is. They take the head of a cow and scrape all the hair off it and then boil it. It's like a jelly, the gelatin of the cheeks and the face and the head. Sounds revolting, but it isn't.

How about restaurants in your other hometown, New York City? In New York, I like to go to the Pink Tea Cup, in the heart of Greenwich Village, right near where Edna St. Vincent Millay used to live. It's another family restaurant, and they have wonderful fried chicken and collard greens and black-eyed peas and okra, corn, and tomatoes mixed together. They have the greatest bacon I've ever tasted. I think they double-fry it or something. They don't take reservations; you have to stand outside on the sidewalk and hope you'll get in. [Laughs] The sidewalk is all greasy. And one of my favorite restaurants in the world is Johnny Rockets in L.A.

OK, then: Let's head for the Continent. If I had to go to one place that was really glamorous, I would go back to La Grande Cascade, which is right in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. It's all glass. It's a typical French restaurant, but it's so famous that a lot of people don't go there because they think it's a tourist trap. If you were just going to go to one place in Paris, then I would say this would certainly give you the flavor of France, particularly of the art nouveau era or the time when Toulouse-Lautrec lived. It's very old-fashioned.

How about other cities in Europe? Every time I go to Rome I go to this place called Otello. …

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