Marion Cunningham, the cook who revised and revived the traditional Fannie Farmer cookbook, passed away a couple of days ago. She was 90.
This morning I pulled down my tattered, broken, fat paperback copy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook–my second copy, the first having already perished from use.
When I got married in 1996, my mom gave me this book. And when I wanted to learn how to make something, this was the book I consulted.
Pounds of homemade noodles, gravy, braised beef, roast chicken and peanut butter cookies: these are the foods that Marion Cunningham showed me how to cook for my friends and family. Her tag line for the peanut butter cookies is my all time favorite. “These are one of our household favorites and have been for over thirty-five years. My husband ate thousands of these over the years.” Of course, there is no full-color picture of her cookies there on page 866, but I don’t need a picture. It was her mini-story that convinced me I should bake these cookies. Of course, I always have hoped that it was not the thousands of peanut butter cookies that led to her husband’s passing, but that would not deter me. They are good cookies. I have written the recipe on the side of my flour container, and if you’ve ever had peanut butter cookies at my house, they came to you courtesy of Marion Cunningham.
On NPR, you can hear Marion talk about food and the importance of the family table. These following words are from an interview she gave years ago.
“Eating food that strangers cook is vastly different than eating what’s cooked at home. The real key is sharing food at that table and, believe me, we know we’re not born civilized. We’re small savages, so you have to be taught the table is the place where you learn who you are and where you’re from, understanding that a lot of people just do nothing but fight at the table.
Nonetheless, you come to know one another.
The result is you know who you are.”