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Jeff Houck

The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.

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Marion Cunningham, 1922-2012 [‘She gave legitimacy to home cooking.’]

Posted Jul 12, 2012 by Jeff Houck

Updated Jul 12, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Marion Cunningham

I write about food, so I frequently run into people who inflate it with lots of hype and overblown verbiage.

I know. Using the phrase “overblown verbiage” is, by its very definition, a portrait of just that. Just say “hot air,” Jeff!

Which is why the passing of cookbook author Marion Cunningham is such a loss. Not only did she help home cooks with her simplified recipes for the revised version of “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook,” and helped with the discovery of Alice Waters, she also popped more than a few ego balloons with her straightforward take on just about everything:

From her obituary in the New York Times:

Plain-spoken and quick with a quip or a gentle jab, Mrs. Cunningham could cut through the puffery of fancy chefs and food writers. Once, after a food author spent the day watching her make pie crust, taking meticulous notes on how many times she cut and stirred, she called Ms. Reichl.

“He really is crazy, dear, don’t you think?” Ms. Reichl recalled her saying. “Nobody could make a decent crust following those directions.”

Her humor extended to her cookbooks. In one passage from “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook,” on how to crack fresh coconut, she suggested throwing it on a cement patio.

“That’s how monkeys do it,” she wrote, “and they are professionals.”

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