Laraine Newman

betty-boop--sunbathing-boop.jpgYou know how sometimes you come across something that reminds you that you used to do things right? I saw the magazine Cooking Light , a magazine I used to have a subscription to and I remembered that I used to make more of an effort. And now, here it is, summer, the time when everyone wants to take off the pounds so they can fit into their bathing suits (not me, of course, because I wouldn’t dream of letting anyone see how my fat has decided to distribute itself these days) and I’m contemplating all the wonderful American food I can make and eat for the 4th of July. Macaroni and Cheese. Hot Dogs. Hamburgers. Potato Salad. 

There was a time when I wouldn’t have considered eating some of them and if so, I would search for a palatable recipe that was a lighter version of that particular traditional indulgence. Then, I rebelled. “Diet food? I don’t need no steenkin’ diet food!” My big complaint about light products is some replacement ingredients tend to be sweet. Light mayonnaise is sweet, light salad dressing is sweet…these products are supposed to be savory, damnit!

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art_linkletter_album.jpg When I was 4 years old I was on Kids Say The Darndest Things with Art Linkletter. My folks told me the teacher in our Nursery School recommended me. When I think about the fact that I once called her ‘fatso’ just to try out the word, nothing personal, and she got so mad she locked me in a broom closet, I’m ever convinced of the altruism of teachers.

I told some outstanding whoppers to Art Linkletter and my lies are preserved in perpetuity on a 78 recording that was issued to each family along with a Tiny Tears doll for the girls. This thrilled me no end. 

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joy_of_cooking1.jpg I have a 1932 copy of The Joy of Cooking that’s being held together at the spine with duct tape. The book, like so many things my mother gave me or tried to impart to me, has become a cherished item only years after her death.

I wasn’t that close to my mother. I know she loved me very much, but she was a talented woman who was bored to death with mothering (I have two older siblings) by the time my twin brother and I came along. I can dig it. I would have had more kids myself, but if I had to sing “Wheels on The Bus” one more time, someone was gonna get hurt.

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french-quarter.jpgI was excited. As the limousine was speeding along the freeway that lead into the city of New Orleans, it occurred to me that for the first time in my life, I was in ‘the south’. That represented so many things to me, but I was determined to focus less on the “They call me Mr.Tibbs” of it all and more on the bodice tearing romance of The Vampire Lestat.

My hotel was nothing less than gothic. So old, that there was no elevator, the doorframes were small and the stairways were warped, no doubt from years of flooding. That’s not to say it was decrepit. It was grand. My room was huge. It was the corner of the entire building. Wood paneling everywhere and heavy red velvet drapes adorned the 4 sets of double doors that spanned the front and far wall. The room faced the street and there was a wrought iron balcony that wrapped around it.

My bathroom had a sunken tub.  Franken and Davis’ room was next to mine and the door that would have separated us was too warped to close. Ahem. Much has been written about this time. One of the more memorable things for me was when Danny (Aykroyd), John (Belushi), John Head, Michael O’Donoghue, Anne Beatts and me were all crammed into a car headed out to a blues club we’d heard about.  It turned out to be reggae. We left.

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surfas2.jpgThe other day, my daughter Hannah and I stopped by Surfas. It always surprises me when she wants to go there, since their prepared food is, lets just  She ordered the 72 layer biscuit with ham and cheese and drank a Bubble Up. Oh to be 13, 5’5” and weigh 98 lbs.  After that, as we crossed over into the store, a fellow cradling a basket of hot baguettes narrowly missed running into me as he made his way to his station or should I say ‘kingdom’, because this guy rules!

Hannah and I watched him set up the baguettes and tend to a customer at the newly established Cheese Bar. If you haven’t been to Surfas lately, there have been some delightful additions to the whole experience.

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