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Laurie Colwin Remembered

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Today while cleaning out files, I happened upon her essays which I had clipped from Gourmet Magazine back in the early '90s.
I spent the better part of the afternoon lost in her refreshing way of talking about food. This week-end I plan to reread her delightful Home Cooking and its sequel.
Does anyone else remember ?

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    Christine Vallejo

    Never read her writing in column form but do have both of her Home Cooking books which I re-read periodically. What a loss.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Christine Vallejo

      What a loss, indeed. She had a level-headedness that is missing almost entirely among food writers today. A clear, direct voice and strong opinions--so strong that they actually continue to have an impact on me. I don't keep serrated knives because she thought they were silly and unnecessary. And she's right, if your knives are sharp. Her recipes are all true. And her fiction is also delightful.

      At least she went quickly, during a nap, at the peak of her powers, but far, far too soon.

      1. re: Tom Steele

        I remember Colwin often, and miss her voice almost as if I had known her personally. I find myself returning to the Home Cooking books, not only to check out what she did with zucchini, but also to revisit her little world. Just yesterday I was thinking about digging out my old stash of LC fiction. I always read her books with pleasure, and only later had to acknowledge how she had subtly bent my mind. She's also the one who talked me out of using a garlic press.

        1. re: C. Fox

          The timing of these posts about Laurie Colwin is incredible. I am just reading "Home Cooking" and am relishing every word. I loved her Gourmet columns...still miss her each month when I get my subscription.

          1. re: MiamiChow

            How odd-- I, too just bought both the Home Cooking books. Thought relying on the library too risky. Both for the food writing-- funny, concise and realistic-- to her fiction ( Goodbye Without Leaving being the most amazing book! ) I feel happy to have found her and profoundly sad to have lost her. I suspect I would have loved her as a person.

        2. re: Tom Steele

          For a loaf of bread, with a really hard crust, nothing beats a good, sharp serrated knife.

          1. re: StriperGuy

            I think her point in that essay was about how little kitchen equipment one really needs. My husband, who spent time in restaurant kitchens, agrees with her premise. He keeps his knives super sharp and really only uses two. We got a Wusthof bread knife as a wedding gift and while I agree that it does a great job, the only reason he didn’t return it was because it came from my mom and she would notice.

            1. re: meg944

              That I completely agree with. You see so many kitchens these days filled with gadgets and twelve different sizes of sauce pan. Then it turns out they don't even use the stuff it's just for show. I have recently gone back to an excellent, well-seasoned 75 year old cast iron pan that I picked up at a church tag sale as my favorite frypan. Got tired of the non-stick and the stainless steel.

      2. who else but laurie colwin would end a party passing by each place and drinking the rest of the coffee out of everyone's cup? or to describe being in an over-decorated home as being trapped inside a tea cozy? i not only remember her, it is with great fondness that i return to her cookbooks as well as her brilliant, succinct fiction. my friends and i refer to the breaded chicken with mustard and garlic ( that she says will never let you down for a dinner party -- and it never has) as 'laurie colwin chicken.'

        when a friend passed along her obit, i got misty. never again have i read fiction quite like hers.
        p.s. spear me another one of those arnold milgrim's.

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          Caitlin Wheeler

          I don't remember her. When she died I was too young to have started reading Gourmet. But I discovered her recently when an article about her appeared in Gourmet, and I promptly bought all of her fiction and nonfiction. It is very sad she can't write anything new for us, but her voice still is, and always will be, alive.

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            stephanie reck

            last month, I had bronchitis, and before I went to get a long shower and put myself to bed for the afternoon, I asked my husband to get me something, anything to make me feel better. When I got out of the shower, I saw that he had put a can of soda, some Tylenol, and More Home Cooking and Happy All the Time on my bedside table. If I don't make her creamed spinach w/ jalapeno peppers on holidays, there's rebellion in the ranks.

            1. I just bought Home Cooking for a friend and that inspired me to reread it again. (I have read it, More Home Cooking, and several of her novels nearly to tatters.) My friend is nervous about cooking and I told her, “reading this will make you want to be in the kitchen.” It is also one of the books I like to read when I am sick. I am the oldest in my family, but reading her books makes me feel I have an older sister chatting to me.

              And her recipes are great – the rosemary walnuts, beets w/ angel hair pasta and gingerbread cake with chocolate icing are all things I make regularly now.

              1 Reply
              1. re: meg944

                Her articles/stories in Gourmet were the highlight for me each month. When they published that she had died, I felt sick. What a loss. I hope her children and husband are doing well.

              2. Laurie Colwin was a treasure. Her writing style was deceptively simple - she made it look so easy. She managed to make me feel like she was my older sister and a master cook, all rolled into one friendly, expert, opinionated, yet never condescending package.

                1. I liked Colwin's books, but I fell in love with her food writing. There was something so true about her -- she communicated the joy and importance of preparing wonderful things to eat, but she didn't treat cooking as a precious art. I loved her humor and honesty, and her conviction that it is really just as easy -- and lots more fun -- to make wonderful food rather than mediocre food.

                  1. Her column was the best part of Gourmet back then; after she was gone I let the subscription run out. I always felt that she would be as delightful a person in the flesh as she was on the page, and when she left us it was like losing my kid sister. I disagreed with some of her opinions, but unlike some writers who seem to have a "my way or the highway" attitude, she was able to articulate those opinions in a warm and pleasant way.

                    1. I first encountered her articles when Gourmet ran them in the 90's after her death. I knew nothing about her other than she was an immediate kindred spirit & I wished that I had read her earlier. Moving recently & discarding years of Gourmet, I was on a mission to only keep great articles- yup- I ended up mostly tearing out Laurie Colwin's. As we get somewhat closer to winter and a planned snow trip at Christmas I have every intention of making her Gingerbread re-printed in Gourmet January 1993 (original December 1987).Thank you for prompting me to review my files.