Friday, January 29, 2010

Seeking the Truth About Mary See

Sometime after the fall of the Third Reich and before the Bay of Pigs invasion, a handsome bearded gentleman and two owlish looking women were having lunch at the Marie Callender's in Pismo Beach, California. Their waiter immediately recognized one woman as famed Hollywood costume designer Edith Head, a woman so clever that she managed to nab an Oscar for the Givenchy dress Audrey Hepburn bought herself in Paris and wore in Sabrina. He wasn't quite sure about the more senior woman but after conferring with his coworkers, he confirmed his hunch and braved his way back to their table.

"Miss Head, I adore all of the lovely costumes you designed," he said.

"I appreciate your limited good taste, although it clearly hasn't helped you when shopping at Montgomery Ward," she disdained, eying him from head to toe.

Oblivious to her comment, he turned to the other woman and blurted out, "And Mrs. See, I think your candies are just the tops. Better even than the Whitman sampler."

Louis Sullivan cleared his throat and blushed as the two women's eyes bulged like giant cracked eggs. Finally, Miss Head peered over her trademark spectacles and said sternly, "G arçon, that is not Mrs. See. In fact, you are in the company of the most important architect of our time. Have you no idea who this is?"

Shaking, he bit his lip, finally offering feebly, "Frank Lloyd a dress."
"No, you imbecile. Julia Morgan! The woman who has designed the most important buildings in California. The woman who designed the largest and most elegant private residence on the face of earth from which we are almost sitting in the shadow of."

His hands were shaking now, barely able to get the words out as he realized the stature of the woman seated at his table. Ms. Morgan smiled gently, trying to calm him, "Oh, Edith, it's really not worth making a fuss. Young man, might I bother you to exchange this Cesar dressing with Green Goddess?"


As he departed, Julia sighed with certain trepidation, "Oh, dear, I hope they know how to make Green Goddess properly here and that it's not from a bottle. So often they go overboard with the chervil or leave it out completely."

The conversation then turned to the true origins of Green Goddess Dressing. Though considered to have its roots in Sauce Au Vert which was prepared by the chef to the court of Louis XVI. In 1923, it was credited to being adapted in the U.S. by the chef at San Francisco's Palace Hotel in honor of George Arliss who was starring in a play of the same name which Julia Morgan loved. Things went downhill in the 1970s after the widening popularity of Ranch Dressing and the eventual purchase of Green Goddess by evil Kraft Foods. Trader Joe's has its Goddess Dressing which is actually brown, and Annie's Naturals has its own, but obviously without the anchovy.

"Since it came out the year before I died, I never had much opportunity to eat it," Louis Sullivan said.

"Well, when it's done correctly, it's superb," Miss Morgan said as the waiter arrived with a heaping serving of the dressing in a porcelain bowl on an emerald saucer. "Ah, merci, mon petit."

"Anything else, Miss...Morgan?"

"Yes, another Manhattan!"

Early in its operation, Marie Callender's distinguished itself by being the only family restaurant chain to serve alcohol in what they never called a "bar" but always a "saloon", perhaps acknowledging its wild west origins.

"Speaking of food legions," Edith said, "I've always been suspicious of whether or note there really was a real Mary See. Wasn't she one of those inventions like Betty Crocker."

"Wasn't she the wife of Mr. Crocker as in the Crocker Galleria?" Mr. Sullivan asked.

"Poppycock!" Julia exclaimed, dipping a radish in her Green Goddess. "She was a complete fiction."

Julia Morgan (right) is NOT the same as Mary See!

"Well, I think the whole Mary See story was the same," Edith said, lifting her whiskey sour. "Julia that isn't you in those photos as a gag at some Hearst Castle costume party?"

Miss Morgan shivered and said, "Oh, surely you don't think I look like that old battle axe?"

"And what about Marie Callender herself?" asked Mr. Sullivan. "Isn't she an invention too?"

Suddenly a hunched over, petite elderly woman emerged from the kitchen. "I am for real!"

"Why, Mrs. Callender, are you the one that cooked up this flawless Green Goddess dressing?"

"Naw," Marie shrugged. "I haven't done that shit in years. I'm on my way up to San Simeon for a mah-johng tournament that Marion Davies is holding. "Why don't you three join us?"

Just then, Nancy Kulp and Odetta entered, wearing headscarves and dark glasses. They asked for a table in the back where they ordered Irish coffee and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Years later, this unlikely meeting resulted in Edith Head inviting Marie Callender to attend the 1967 Academy Awards in her . Edith's costume design was the single nomination for the much maligned film The Oscar which featured lines such as "If you lie down with dogs, you'll smell like fleas." Edith also had a cameo playing herself.

When Bob Hope read the nominees and then announced the winner, he said. "And the Oscar for best costume design goes to The Oscar and Edith Head. Miss Head is unable to accept tonight because she has...a Head cold!" As the audience roared with laughter, someone slipped Bob a surprise last minute change of plans for the betowing the best costume design award. Not missing a beat, he glanced up from the note and said, "Accepting the Oscar on Miss Head's behalf are ...Dino, Desi and Billy!"

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At 8:03 AM, Blogger willow said...

"Just then, Nancy Kulp and Odetta entered, wearing headscarves and dark glasses. They asked for a table in the back where they ordered Irish coffee and grilled cheese sandwiches."

I was already giggling, but when I came to this part, I burst out in a roar!

Only you could combine so many of my faves in one post...Edith Head, Green Goddess and Bob Hope.

Thanks for the Saturday morning giggles, you witty Mr. Thief, you.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger rich bachelor said...

The woman who is doomed to be remembered as being memorialized in the opening credits of the Steve Martin vehicle "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid", Edith Head.

I've not done any research as to whether or not she was related to Gay Head, author of such books as "Sex Tips for Teens" Wikipedia!

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Willow - I may need to do a series on Odetta and Nancy Next.

Rich - "Sex Tips for Teens" by Gay Head. Oh, man, that's one of those so strange they couldn't make it up titles.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...



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