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Marion Cunningham: Cookbook Author

Best known for her revisions to Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Marion Cunningham espouses the virtues of home cooking in a short interview.

matriarch of American cooking, Marion Cunningham, image
Photo caption
Cunningham serves up her secrets.


This past autumn, at the age of 81, Marion Cunningham—the irrepressible champion of home cooking best known for her revisions to the classic Fannie Farmer Cookbook—published her eighth cookbook, Lost Recipes. Here's the lifelong Californian's recipe for eating well.

Q: Why did you call your new book Lost Recipes?
A: I rarely see dishes like onion casserole, shepherd's pie made in homes anymore, and many are as good, if not better than what I do see on tables.

Q: Where do you shop for your food?
A: I have to buy and use what my audience buys and uses, so I shop at Albertsons and Safeway in Walnut Creek, Calif., where I live.

Q: Where do you eat out?
A: I love Chez Panisse [in Berkeley]. Alice Waters and I have been friends practically since the restaurant opened. Foreign Cinema in San Francisco is very good. The atmosphere is captivating, the food excellent.

Q: What's so important about home cooking?
A: If you lose that regularity of preparing and enjoying food together, you lose subtle lessons in being civilized. By cooking and eating together, you come to deeply know your family, and you create a bond that's there for life.

Q: Why do people cook at home less ften today?
A: It's been an evolution. With women working outside the home, slowly and surely we are losing the ability to cook—because we learn by observation, by watching our parents at the stove.

Q: But it's awfully hard to work all day and then cook.
A: Here's my key advice for eating well: Cook more than you need for one meal and enjoy it throughout the week.

Photography by Mitch Tobias


This article was first published in January 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.