Tonight my daughter Vera and I are making a guest appearance on Vivian Howard’s Emmy-winning TV show “A Chef’s Life.”
The show features Vivian and her husband Ben Knight and their restaurant “The Chef and the Farmer” in the small town of Kinston, N.C.
I can’t imagine why Vivian wanted an irascible old historian like me on the show. Some people are hard to figure.
Vera, I can understand. In addition to being a talented public historian, she has great gifts in the kitchen. She loves to feed a crowd and at times she has made her living as a baker and cook. She used to cook for a community soup kitchen, and she was once a professional goat cheese maker, too.
On tonight’s show, Vera, Vivian and I make pear preserves. We used a recipe that I learned from my grandmother’s elderly neighbor in Harlowe. Miss Beadie Mason was almost 100 years old when she taught it to me.
We make them every year. They’re a good way to carry a taste of late summer into the winter.
Also, you’ve never seen anything prettier than a row of pear preserves in a pantry in the morning light.
I don’t know how I feel about being on national TV, but I can’t be more grateful for the chance I had to spend a morning making the preserves with Vivian and Vera.
Like my daughter, Vivian is a hoot and a holler and her soul is as deep as the sea.
Cooking with the two of them was a great joy, the kind of thing that a man does not soon forget. I couldn’t ask for better company and it’s a memory I will always cherish.