Magazine article Sunset

Epicurean Tuna

Magazine article Sunset

Epicurean Tuna

Article excerpt

The first time I had lunch with James Beard in New York, he took me to his favorite place-very French and very fine-the latter quality no doubt influenced by the regular presence of this culinary giant in the restaurant.

Where we ate the second time, however, became my favorite place. Delayed by errands, I missed our meeting time and arrived at his home on West 12th Street just as lunch preparations were underway. Ever hospitable, James invited me to stay, put me to work, and threw an impromptu lesson into the conversation.

His first tip: Keep a well-stocked pantry, including humble goods. Among the boxes and bags of cereals, flours, and sugars; tins of tomatoes; and bottles of vinegars and oils was a stack of canned tuna-large, firm chunks.

His second tip: A well-stocked refrigerator includes a generous selection of long-lasting condiments. His own sheltered a dizzying trove of staples-mayonnaise, mustards, olives, and capers, not to mention pickled this and pickled that, tubes of pastes (anchovy, tomato, chestnut, and perhaps even some fish roe), all kinds of jams and jellies, as well as a multitude of interesting-looking little pots and jars whose contents I couldn't readily identify. …

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