The Modern Hostess
By Marjorie Deen
Modern Screen magazine, 1934
At last! The great screen idol Clark Gable confesses his culinary favorites
Over in dear old London some lucky shopkeepers are privileged to display in their windows reading, “By appointment to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,” while makers of a few favored English foods are allowed to announce that they are “Purveyors to His Majesty the King.”
In this democratic land of ours where no such custom prevails, I wager that a sign in a shop window on Hollywood Boulevard—or Fifth Avenue, New York, or Main Street, Oshkosh, or that matter—announcing “Clark Gable buys his hats (or shoes or hunting togs) here” would bring customers a-running. Furthermore, I’m convinced that a label announcing, “This is Clark Gable’s favorite brand of condiments” soon would clear the grocer’s shelves of that particular food in short order.
With this great popularity of Clark’s in mind I decided it was high time for me to find out about some of his likes and dislikes along culinary lines. And on this occasion I was determined not to take “no” for an answer. Actually I’ve been trying to corner Clark on the subject of food for lo these many moons. But is he the artful dodger! Then, when the news came out that motion picture exhibitors all over these United States had bestowed upon him another accolade of merit by placing him second on their list (with only that home-spun philosopher, Will Rogers, preceding him) I was more determined than ever, someway, somehow , to find out for you—and you—and me, what this Prince of Good Fellows likes to eat.
And then I had the bright idea of going to Ria Gable—by special appointment, purveyor to screendom’s King, Clark Gable.
Mrs. Gable, Clark’s brown-haired, Kentucky-born wife, met me in the living room of their modified Colonial home in Brentwood. The deep, cool room with its lovely old pieces of carved walnut, its inlaid tables, Venetian blinds and green and gold brocaded hangings, seemed to reflect the very spirit of her gracious hospitality. And furthermore I could imagine that it would supply quite the correct and typical American background for all-America’s favorite romantic motion picture star—whose food preferences I was about to discover.
“If you expect me to tell you that Clark likes truffles and caviar you are going to be disappointed,” Mrs. Gable replied in an answer to my first question. “He is, after all, just a person, you know,” she went on, “Give Clark golden pancakes with little pig sausages for breakfast, stuffed pear salad and lots of sandwiches for luncheon, pot roast with rich brown gravy for dinner, followed by a great big homemade cake; and for an after-the-show snack let him make himself a Bermuda onion sandwich thick with mustard and you can have his cinema championship with a few ‘skeet’ guns thrown in for good measure.”
There you are ladies, that’s what Clark Gable likes to eat and if it doesn’t represent what most men actually prefer in the line of provender I miss my guess!
As a matter of fact, the Gables’ eating habits are as all-American as anything you can imagine and as appropriate as “Yankee Doodle” to America’s leading screen idol.
For breakfast Clark has the conventional fruits or fruit juices, in season, black coffee and a great heaped stack of golden steaming pancakes, garlanded with crispy fried little sausages. Mrs. Gable has her cook use a recipe for the pancakes which she has followed for years. It is very simple. And good? Oh my! are they good. Doubtless you will find her proportions an improvement on those in the recipe you are already using—I know I did. So here they are, for you to try:
GABLE BREAKFAST PANCAKES
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup milk (or water)
Sift flour, measure. Mix and sift together with salt, baking powder and sugar. Beat egg, combine with liquid and add to dry ingredients. Beat until smooth. Add melted butter. Mix thoroughly. Bake on hot greased griddle until filled with bubbles and golden brown on under side. Turn and bake on the other side until done.
Over this Clark pours, not distilled nectar, but a nationally known brand of maple syrup—the kind that every housewife is most certain to keep on her shelf.
When he is at home for lunch, probably fussing around oiling his guns and getting his fishing tackle ready for another foray into the wilds, Mrs. Gable sees that he has his favorite salad. And that, believe it or not, is the exceedingly popular cottage cheese and pear salad. Occasionally Mrs. Gable varies the cheese stuffing, to her husband’s delight, because he is overwhelmingly fond of every and all kinds of cheese.
Clark has a weakness for sandwiches, particularly those that he can concoct himself. Crisp crackers also are served for lunch and Clark always drinks a well-known soft drink, the kind that has made Atlanta famous.
There are chilly days, however, when cold food is out of the question. It is then that he relishes a soup plate full of spaghetti or baked beans. And there are moments when he succumbs to the appeal of a succulent pot roast. Only this pot roast that Mrs. Gable’s cook boasts is different. Instead of the conventional roast with its thick gravy smothering carrots and peas, Mrs. Gable has the beef cooked with nary a vegetable, depending upon that esteemed pepper-upper garlic, to give it zest.
With the roast dinner Mrs. Gable features a clear consommé—an always welcome prelude to a heavy meal—followed by the meat and potatoes browned in the pot roast juices.
Add the crowning glory to this Gable dinner by following Ria Gable’s recipe for the world’s prize dessert—in Clark’s opinion. It’s a fluffy, feathery cake which she makes herself, never trusting it to her cook. It’s made with a total disregard for the cost of eggs, but the results are so marvelous that you too will want to feel extravagant—just this once—and set out to achieve the same results. This cake is frosted with a snowy white frosting completely covered over with cocoanut. Or for variety and equal goodness, the cake makes its appearance with a thick, smooth chocolate covering which is made of cream cheese! Honestly, I wouldn’t fool you—it really is! When I tried Ria Gable’s recipe it looked just like that tempting picture at the beginning of this article. That’s how it looked—and it tasted even better!
So now, if you want to charm your guests, delight your husband or win the approval of your best boyfriend, serve this typical Gable “home” dinner:
Pot Roast and Gravy
Kentucky green beans Potatoes
Clark’s Favorite Layer Cake
Fresh Fruit Cheese
After the wear and tear of a Hollywood premiere, or a late show or dance, the Gables like to have a little snack before retiring. And, faithful to their romance (they met when Gable was playing in a show on Broadway) nine times out of ten Ria and Clark will raid the kitchen larder and refrigerator from which they will collect bread, butter, Bermuda onions and mustard and fix themselves up the hottest sandwiches that anyone ever tasted, just as they did when Clark was an unknown stage actor instead of a world-famous film star.
Of course, no article about Clark’s food preferences would be complete without mentioning Clark’s liking for game, as Clark is a hunting enthusiast. And like all wise wives of ambitious Nimrods, Mrs. Gable knows how to cook duck so that when Clark returns from a hunting expedition at Silver Lake with his quota of canvas backs, the necessary onions, sage and seasonings are ready for instant use.
“We do not entertain at home very much,” Mrs. Gable told me. “When we do we seldom have more than ten or twelve guests for dinner. Once we asked twenty people but I think that was the largest number we ever had as we prefer small groups of friends. On Sunday Clark often will bring home three or four men from the club, after a game of golf. On that day I have only one maid so I spread a buffet luncheon of cold chicken and ham, cheese, hot biscuits and cake and let them help themselves. There is absolutely nothing formal about our lives. Our friends know that. Our entertaining is all done in the same informal manner. We find it more enjoyable to ask someone to share sauerkraut and wienies with us around the kitchen table than to strive to impress them by ‘going Hollywood’ in a banquet hall.”
It all sounds very cheerful and homey, doesn’t it—like your home, or my home, or that of those nice new neighbors next door? And the Gable meals, we know now, reflect the same spirit of simple hospitality, in the best American tradition. There’s pot roast—the best way to cook inexpensive cuts of beef—cheese dishes fixed a la Clark Gable, and cake so light you don’t realize how much you’ve eaten until it’s all gone; then you’ll yell for another, especially if it’s frosted with one of the other of Clark’s favorite frostings, “Cocoanut Blizzard” or “Chocolate Cream.”
You, too, can serve the same dishes that Clark Gable favors to those you love—and they’ll love you for doing it. How can that be accomplished, you ask? Well it’s no secret, it just means filling out the coupon and sending it to us! No trouble—no cost. The Clark Gable favorite foods then are yours.
Miss or Mrs. Where’s your pencil? Now’s the time to find out how to cook the things Clark loves to eat and to discover how universal is their appeal. And too, this will give you a marvelous chance to find out how easy the MODERN SCREEN Home-Kitchen Tested Recipes are to follow. For we always test them before passing them on to you. So this month I add my few words of enthusiastic approval to Clark’s “Rita [sic] Gable’s recipes are great!”