Jimmy and I have these two wonderful friends, Barry and Julie. I have written about them previously HERE. They are almost 20 years older than us, but are extremely youthful. They're a fascinating and original couple. They have both had long careers in stage and film, he as an actor and director, and she as a dancer and choreographer. Their parties are often peopled by a Who's Who of Showbiz. They have a house here in Los Angeles as well as an apartment in New York, which is exactly what you'd imagine a "Broadway showpeople" apartment to look like - walls covered with posters and Playbills of plays they've been involved in. Broadway composers drop by to play the piano while famous actors sing along. They're always fun to be with, and always wonderful guests. I guess people would consider them "characters".
But one thing about them that has always puzzled and intrigued me, is that neither of them cooks. And by that I mean that neither of them cooks. At all. I am fairly sure that Julie knows how to make coffee. And maybe toast. Beyond that? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
And yet somehow, they manage to eat. And they managed to raise a daughter and feed her.
They are what I would call well-off, but they're not super rich. I mean, they don't have full-time help or anything. And eating out for every single meal must get ridiculously expensive. And so they seem to spend a tremendous amount of time foraging for food. I guess they're wealthy, middle-aged, Jewish hunter-gatherers.
Barry will come over to work with Jimmy on something and he immediately heads to the kitchen. I'll hear him in there rooting around in the cupboard and the refrigerator. Then he'll call out "Gretch, is it okay if I have a pear? And some potato chips? And a little of this sliced turkey?" They never seem to eat anything that I would consider an actual "meal". Once Julie came over and I asked her what she'd had to eat that day and she replied "I ate a few nuts."
The other day, Barry took Jimmy out for lunch, and at the end of the meal, he asked Jimmy, "You gonna eat the rest of that sandwich?" When Jimmy said no, Barry wrapped it up in a napkin and STUFFED IT IN HIS POCKET, "Julie will eat this for dinner." It's just weird.
They often have parties, which all of their friends come to because they love Barry and Julie, but it's a running joke amongst the guests as to what we will be served. There's often fruit, some of which is cut up, but much of which is just left whole. Like...a banana. Or a peach. Not what you think of as finger food. Sometimes they'll pick up some potato salad or pasta from a deli. Again, it's just weird.
Once, they were staying at a friend's beach house in the Hamptons, and we went to visit, bringing along my m-i-l Mommy, Aunt Grace and my s-i-l Niki. Barry and Julie graciously welcomed us, and after Julie rummaged around in the kitchen for about 20 minutes, we were offered water and a bowl of blueberries. Mommy was stumped.
A few years ago, a friend of Julie's started catering their parties, which was a huge relief. But for some peculiar reason, every year she makes the exact same food. Every year, the same recipes. "Oh look, it's that interesting guacamole with the pomegranate seeds. Again." My guess is that Julie had such a good response the first year she actually had a party catered, that she just asks to stick with the same thing every time.
And they're always so fascinated with me, and the fact that I DO cook. It seems to puzzle them as much as their non-cooking puzzles me. About 15 years ago, I made Cornish game hens for a dinner party, and they were so taken by them that they mention them all the time. "Oh, remember those little birds? They were delicious!"
About a month ago, they dropped by one afternoon, and as they were leaving I mentioned to Julie that I needed to get started on making dinner. She looked at me in an accusatory way and asked "Why do you feel that you need to cook for him every night?" I was fairly taken aback. "I don't feel that I need to cook for him. I like to cook. It gives me great pleasure. And I also like to eat. So...I guess I'm cooking for myself as well." Julie was stunned. It was as if she had never thought of this.
Is this as much of an aberration as I think? Is this an eccentric Showbiz people thing? Or are there others out there in the real world who are also unable to feed themselves?