Let Her Eat Cake
Instead, the July 27 affair was as successful as Child's legendary cooking shows, which audiences loved even when the food ended up on the floor. The 50 missing free-range chickens (which finally arrived, rotten, three days late) prompted Child to recall the tale of a chef who committed suicide with a butcher's knife when his fish didn't turn up on time. And Child made hash of the protesters. "I'm a card-carrying carnivore," she said. "I've got to keep up my strength."
There will be plenty of chances for that this year, as food experts across the country fete Child at a series of celebratory bashes benefiting her pet causes, such as the American Institute of Wine & Food, the recipient of the dinner's $100-to-$125-a-plate proceeds. At the Hay-Adams, seven Washington chefs prepared the four-course menu and appetizers that included Port Chatham smoked black cod cakes, spicy lobster taquitos, broiled Prince Edward Island clams, plantation corn cake with smoked salmon, and risotto with porcini mushrooms, as well as three birthday cakes, one decorated with edible reproductions of Child's cookbooks.
No champion of health foods, Child prides herself on cooking with butter and says of margarine, "I don't have that other spread in the house at all." The key to good eating, she adds, is "moderation, great variety and small helpings." Her cookbook-writing days are over though. "I don't like to sit by myself," explains Child, whose husband, Paul, 90, is now in a nursing facility near the couple's Cambridge, Mass., home. But America's beloved queen of cuisine, who actually turns 80 on Aug. 15, shows no sign of slowing down. Each day, she does isometric exercises, spends five minutes on a stationary bike and walks 40 minutes. With pots on each burner, Child also continues to lecture and write articles and is creating a new show for PBS, slated to air in the fall of '93, called Cooking with the Master Chefs, for which she'll do each introduction. Asked by a friend how she does it all, the birthday belle quipped, "Well, you know, dear, I eat well."