Liz Smith 'Dishing' on food, high and low, and famous friends
The most entertaining parts of the book are the chapters about the people Smith got to know well, which benefit from not only her intimate access to the inaccessible star, author, or restaurateur, but also her true enjoyment of that person. My favorite is a chapter about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, wherein the author reveals the contents of the couple's refrigerator (Dinty Moore canned stew, Sara Lee cakes, cream-style corn, V8 Juice ... ), deconstructs their never-ending meals and comestible-centered banter, and comes to the conclusion that the Taylor-Burtons were hedonists, whose joy was not "married sexual excess" but food.
| Dishing |
By Liz Smith
Simon & Schuster
$30.95, 240 pages
The books low points come in the later chapters, in which Smith seems to run out of steam. For example, in a short chapter entitled "Do Veggies Lack a Sense of Purpose?" Smith admits to not caring for vegetables and then goes on to fill the pages with quotes and dull bits of history. Did Smith's editor force her to write about vegetables? One wishes she hadn't bothered. Similarly, an entire chapter dedicated to preparing and giving toasts, presented in numbered bullets, felt a little too how-to.
So sue her, as Liz would say. She is 83 and probably entitled to pass on some friendly advice. One can only imagine how this little tidbit on hospitality, handed down from her mother (who made Smith and her siblings eat watermelon in the bathtub), must have helped the Grand Dame of Dish: "The best-mannered person in the room is the one who never makes anyone else feel uncomfortable." •
By Susan Pagani