Wandering through a used book store yesterday, I came across a book with an unremarkable title: A Treasury of Great Recipes. Normally this would not catch my attention, but the book's co-authors were Vincent and Mary Price.
I had no idea that the horror film star and his wife were so amazing! In addition to both being world famous for their careers, thespian and costume designer respectively, they were also world travelers, collectors of art, and evidently lovers of fine food. Vincent and Mary are said to have begged, flattered and connived to acquire their favorite recipes from the the world's most famous restaurants. This book is as much an adventure as it is a collection of recipes.
Published in 1965, it contains personal stories from Vincent and Mary, and descriptions of the restaurants. It is also full of photographs of the couple and their friends enjoying the restaurants, reprints of the restaurant's menus, and a most importantly, a collection of recipes that Vincent and Mary used to recreate the dishes at home, for their guests. The written descriptions of each item show you just how awesome this couple was. Try this description of New England Clam Chowder, from Boston's famous Locke-Ober's:
This is the true, the authentic clam chowder invented and relished by seagoing New Englanders, and a favorite there for generations. There is something called Manhattan Clam Chowder made with tomatoes and therefore a ruddy color, but your proper Bostonian will have nothing to do with that aberrant form. Locke-Ober's recipe is for the pale cream-colored soup to which you may add a dusting of paprika for color, no more. As far as flavor is concerned, it doesn't even need that.
The voice throughout is direct, refined, and clearly reflects their passion for the subject at hand. This amazing collection is filled with gems: Breakfasts from the Super Chief, dinners from Rivoli in Mexico City, and fantastic German fare from Lüchow's in New York are but a few of the locations that grabbed my interest. I have big plans for this tome. I'm going to start having friends over for a series of Vincent and Mary Price meals.
This Friday may include clam chowder. The cream-colored variety, of course.
I found this book at my local used bookstore in wonderful shape for $35. Clearly the Amazon vendors want more. But it's worth acquiring, however you go about it, and whatever price you pay.