Thursday, November 5, 2009

Me and Martha Stewart, 1989

Remember that number in Bye Bye Birdie called "Ed Sullivan?" I always thought there should be some sort of reverant theme song for MS, orchestral with clouds parting and everyone in khaki and a button down shirt. I first learned about Martha from my roommate in 1989. We watched a PBS show that had Martha doing Thanksgiving, by herself, at her Connecticut farmhouse. Also, she was getting sloshed on camera. At least, that's how I remember it. And, croquembouche...she was very, very big on the croquembouche (recipe linked to title). But she was Martha in all her Martha-ness, and for someone like me, a divorced kid from Santa Cruz, this was the ideal with which I pressed my nose to the window. Again, this is early MS, not the Cybill Shepherd version.

Someone I worked with was getting married to a wealthy girl, and Martha was their wedding coordinator. For nine months, I heard about the planning of this wedding. An Empire State Building cake by Sylvia Weinstock, complete with King Kong, etc., etc. The wedding was at the bride's home in a bedroom community of NYC, and a few of the groom's friends were invited to the event. I was in my mid-20's, so all of this was a big deal. Flying to NY, getting the right outfit, figuring out trains, getting to see Martha in her glory, all of it. I chose a very smart light wool suit and heels...people, this was the late 80's, so work with me. Oh, and the wedding was in early September. Wool, heat, humidity, let the fun begin.

My guest and I get on the train, a little verklempt. But, there would be cabs when we got there, so we could try and cool down before arriving. Well, no cabs. No cabs two towns over. Nothing. So, we walked...not five miles in the snow, but two miles in heels and humidity. We finally got to the family manse, and you can imagine how glamorous we looked. I rang the doorbell, and there was Martha, in a wraparound skirt and espadrilles. All we wanted was a bathroom, but the guests weren't allowed in the house. She directed us, with disdain I might add, to the portosans around the back. And that, my friends, was the beginning and really, the end.

I didn't grow up poor, but I didn't have a silver spoon, either. It was quite a show to see, as the family spent an enormous amount of money for this shindig. A dining platform was built for a sit down dinner for 350 people. Waiters passing around mint juleps, making me wonder when I left for Kentucky. It was truly incredible. The groom's friends, well, we all were seated at one table in the corner. I think you get the drift. We had fun, left for the city and its various bars, and kept our red-headed stepchild party going into the wee hours.

So, in honor of this event, I made the Pumpkin Ice Box Pie, in Martha's Everyday Food magazine. And, like that evening in 1989, it was good, not great, and a little runny.

1 comment:

  1. great story...i have a complete visual of ms. martha's a the look she has mastered! What I wish for is that footage on Whatever Martha..i think the girls would have a field day.