PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston June 2022

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Clockwise from top le: Robert Del Grande, photographed for Texas Monthly magazine, 1982. Del Grande and Julia Child, 1993. Del Grande with Dean Fearing, 1990. Robert and Mimi Del Grande in Riverside, California, 1979. Life of a chef, 1994. Del Grande in his Cafe Annie kitchen, 1982. Credit mounted on the wall of her kitchen to call a cab company. She announced: "This is Julia Child. Can you send a cab to my house. Just honk when you arrive, and my friends will come out." Some memories are indelible. If I were to pick one singular moment, it might be when, after explaining the nuances of chilies to Julia Child, she sent me a handwritten note thanking me for the lesson. (Imagine that: Julia thanking me for a lesson!) She signed it: "Love Julia, your friend." Then she added in parentheses: "(And I mean it!)" She was a wonderful friend. She inspired me to always be thoughtful and kind and, above all, gracious. Far-flung place you'd like to go. The Great Wall of China. Then, of course, there's the moon. Regardless of how gray and desolate it seems, it too feels worth the trip. Favorite drink. I'm a contextual drinker: Oysters? Muscadet or a crisp Chenin blanc. A roasted chicken with fennel and olives? Something from the Rhone Valley. A fine guinea hen? Pinot Noir. A cool spring sunset? A gin and tonic. Some perfect avocados? A margarita. An aged goat cheese? Sauvignon Blanc. On a cold winter evening? A nice bourbon. A seminal book on philosophy? Most likely single-malt scotch. And when undecided? Champagne. The meal that comforts you. The first dish I learned to cook: pancakes. Maybe it was because it was my favorite dish or because I thought it was magical. I was about five years old. All these years later, making pancakes still seems magical. And the comforting magic is further multiplied when you add maple syrup. Restaurants you have yet to visit where you would love to dine. I have a fascination with historic restaurants that span eras and can list a retinue of intriguing personas who have dined there. In Paris, in 1983, I remember walking past Le Grand Véfour. Possibly I recalled the classic Sauce Mornay, which was introduced there. Perhaps I knew Napoleon, Hugo, Colette, de Beauvoir, Sartre, Pagnol, and Cocteau had eaten there. I didn't eat there on that trip. Maybe I should return just to absorb the decor, the ambiance, and such a rich history. If you could live anywhere. When I was a graduate student, a postdoctoral fellow I admired told me that every place in this world has something to offer, but it won't come to you; you have to look for it. Following that bit of wisdom, I'm happy in most places. Real-life heroes. Bob Dylan for his lyrics. Glenn Gould for his musical insights. Jerry Garcia for his lyrical guitar playing. Wallace Stevens for his poetry. Julia Child for her wit and graciousness. Neil Armstrong for his level-headedness (plus, he landed on the moon). Einstein and the coterie of 20th-century physicists for their counterintuitive-ness. In the end, I would say my wife — if not for her, the last four decades would never have happened. Heroes inspire us to strive to do better things, to reach beyond ourselves. Novel cooking invention. A colleague gave me a hard-cooked egg timer. You drop it in the water when cooking eggs, and the color changes 29

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