01 Jul 2010, Posted by admin in MEET, 2 Comments
There’s nothing that says Hollywood quite like jalapeño jelly, mango chutney and corn relish (or was that flavored vodka?). During the 1930s and 40s, I like to think food was still part of the draw at the swankiest starlet parties (Back then, didn’t “bottle service” still refer to the milkman?). But before we fondly reminisce for those forgotten years of foie gras and truffles, remember this was an era when pillows of cream cheese appeared on top of just about every appetizer, and cocktail hours weren’t complete without a canapé or three.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as the condiments that came with it were good enough to stand up to mounds of Philadelphia’s best (which, by the way, is simply a late 19th century American variation on Neufchâtel cheese).
Enter Viola Rowland. Her cooking and condiments were among the best of the best in her day, judging by the folks she catered for (Doris Day, Dan Duryea, Max Factor). Her granddaughter, Nancy, is carrying on that tradition by bottling her own versions of Viola’s best kept secrets.
Nancy is one of the hardest working folks I’ve ever met — a schoolteacher by day, she replies to order queries for her relishes and sauces at night, and sells them at farmers markets at the crack of dawn on weekends. And she’s been doing it for more than twenty years. Her products are great, but her dedication is astouding. When I called her with a quick 5-second fact check question for the newspaper story (I had forgotten she was at school), she asked if we could speak after school, not during recess or her 5 minute break. Now that is a true teacher.
Read more about Viola’s Gourmet Goodies in the LA Times profile.