R.I.P. Marion Cunningham

by Anne Bennett on July 12, 2012

You may not know her name, but Marion Cunningham was the doyenne of American cooking. You’ve most likely heard of the cookbook she re-wrote and became famous for, “The Fanny Farmer Cookbook.”

Best friends with and for 11 years the cooking assistant of the legendary James Beard, Marion was a lifelong advocate of cooking at home.

She once wrote, “Too many families seldom sit down together; it’s gobble and go,” eating food on the run, reheating it in relays in the microwave as one dashes off to a committee meeting, another to basketball practice. As a result we are losing an important value. Food is more than fodder. It is an act of giving and receiving because the experience at table is a communal sharing; talk begins to flow, feelings are expressed, and a sense of well-being takes over.”

Many years ago I met Marion at the Williams Sonoma store here in Kansas City. She was in town promoting “The Fanny Farmer Baking Book.”  I stood in line to ask her a question about lemon meringue pie. She was utterly gracious, and after patiently listening to me lament that my meringues weeped all over the kitchen counter, she gave me some tips that she thought might help. They did.

Marion was 90 years old when she died this past Wednesday at her home in Walnut Creek, California.

Like Marion, I believe that our meals should be a communal sharing–of food, ideas, fellowship–and that they should be cooked at home.

I’m sad today that one of the most vociferous advocates of that tradition has left us.


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