The venerable gossip columnist talks and eats her way through a memoir that recalls great comestibles shared with the gliterati of half a century.
Liz Smith, a Fort Worth girl brought up on chicken fried steak, jailhouse chili and watermelon, must have been the advance guard of the Texan assault on the bluest state when she arrived in Manhattan in 1949. Her open good nature—and her access to print—gave her the opportunity to sup with the powerful, dine with the stars, nosh with Social Register swells and spend considerable time at the trough with assorted biggies. She describes the oysters, pastries, deep fries and high teas that nourished her at Le Cirque, Elaine’s and intimate dinner parties on the Vineyard or overlooking the East River. Here’s pal Liz Taylor in ravenous mode. Here’s Erica Jong, Henri Soulé and Elaine Strich. Nora Ephron takes over a few pages. Don’t forget Mr. Forbes and “Malcolm’s calm and friendly natives on his island.” Names drop like lard on a hot skillet. M. Proust (one personage Liz didn’t seem to encounter) evoked the past by remembering a sponge cake, but Proust never gave a recipe. Our memoirist provides many. A choice ingredient that dieters should know: bacon drippings. There’s instruction in the art of the eulogy, and there’s an etiquette class for children, both, like all else, a guileless stream of consciousness ornamented with aphorisms from W.S. Gilbert and Ogden Nash and sprinkled overall with oddball footnotes, like raisins. Smith maintains a sweet penchant for the inane. It might be noted that Richard Wilbur, not Sondheim, holds the copyright for the lyric “glitter and be gay,” but only a grouch would demand accuracy in such a confection. Just pass the Tums, please.
Good-natured fast food from the doyenne of gossip columnists. Goes well with a cold Dr. Pepper or a slug of Booker’s.