It wasn’t unusual that LL and I were each reading last weekend. It was unusual, though, that at the exact same moment each of us reached a page in our respective books that contained a recipe. Recipes written by people famous for something other than cooking. Plus, neither book was a cookbook. And each recipe involved sausage.

My book was As Always, Julia, a book I’ve been savoring in small bites for several weeks now, completely impressed with how incredibly smart, thoughtful, busy, and passionate these two women were. And they knew everyone! One of my favorite bits is this excerpt from a letter Avis deVoto wrote to Julia Child about making her special spaghetti sauce, a recipe given to her by the poet John Ciardi – how cool is that? It was a blast from the past; I loved the word histories he did for NPR that I listened to back in my college-public-radio-reporting days. Here’s the recipe, which Avis wrote takes about five hours to make:

5 large onions sliced and softened in nearly a cup of olive oil, then two cans tomato paste, two cans tomato sauce, quart can solid pack tomatoes – garlic salt, bay leaf, caraway, basil, Italian parsley. Then eighteen Italian sausages fried gently and simmered in the sauce for couple hours. These are the fresh sausages made of pork butt and Marsala and garlic, fat and marbled pink and white – nothing like ordinary pork sausages and they don’t cook apart, they’re quite firm and rich and garlicky. The onions cook away to nothing and the sauce is intensely tomatoey. Then imported pasta cooked at the last minute, al dente. Fresh Parmesan, of course.

-from a 1953 letter from Avis De Voto to Julia Child, As Always, Julia, page 61

LL’s book was Keith Richards’ Life. I know he didn’t enjoyed it very much, because he advised me to get rid of it before Kid One wanted to read it. Smart guy – don’t let the kids confuse their role models. It seems that many musicians’ autobiographies succeed in making you lose any interest or admiration you had for their work just by virtue of being a not very good person. LL wondered if anyone would ever make a meal from one of Keith Richards’ recipes after reading the book. It just made LL feel icky.

My Recipe For Bangers and Mash

  1. First off, find a butcher who makes his sausages fresh.
  2. Fry up a mixture of onions and bacon and seasoning.
  3. Get the spuds on the boil with a dash of vinegar, some chopped onions and salt (seasoning to taste). Chuck in some peas with the spuds. (Throw in some chopped carrots too, if you like.) Now we’re talking.
  4. Now, you have a choice of grilling or broiling your bangers or frying. Throw them on low heat with the simmering bacon and onions (or in the cold pan, as the TV lady said, and add the onions and bacon in a bit) and let the fuckers rock gently, turning every few minutes.
  5. Mash yer spuds and whatever.
  6. Bangers are now fat free (as possible!).
  7. Gravy if desired.
  8. HP sauce, every man to his own.

-from Keith Richards’ Life, page 525

Beauty and the beast, sausage-style.