There’s nothing like getting to attend The Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, for someone who loves golf. My good friend, Bill Rogers, who I caddied for on the PGA tour in the early ‘70’s, won the Open Championship in Scotland in 1981 (I wasn’t on the bag). Because he’s won a major championship and was named Player of the Year in 1981, he is an honorary invitee of The Masters. One year he called me with a proposition- if I would bring ingredients and cooking utensils to make breakfast and dinner for his house guests…mostly men from Texas, he would provide me with a place to sleep and weekly clubhouse badge, and I’d get to ride to and from the golf course in his courtesy car down Magnolia Lane. Of course, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I did a good enough job the first year, that I was invited back the next, and it became an annual ritual. One night, Bill invited Tom Fazio to dinner… we often had dinner guests – Jerry Pate, Roger Cleveland, and others- Fazio asked me what was for dinner, and when I told him, he said, “I’ve given up meat for lent, you’ll have to make me something else.”
When I already had 10 people to feed for dinner, becoming a short order cook and making a separate dinner was not a beauty. I was tempted to make him scrambled eggs, but I managed to make him a frittata. Anyway, the next year, I brought my best friend Peter Roy to help with the cooking. Peter added some of his Louisiana specialties like gumbo, and even brought a grill to have a steak night. For breakfast, one morning during the week, I would always make Wilson Street pancakes (I’d even bring my special griddle to cook them on). But most mornings, I would attempt to get these Texans to have cereal and fruit with their toast and coffee. Inevitably, they would come down and ask if I could make them a couple of eggs. One year, the large hand of bananas was getting too ripe, and I hatched an idea. I’d make a banana pudding using my Whole Foods private label ginger snaps instead of vanilla wafers. After dinner that night, I told the boys I’d made a special dessert, and since this batch wasn’t big enough for people to go back for seconds, I portioned it out. After his first bite, the man at the head of the table announced, “I’m a buyer of anybody’s portion for $40!” To which the guy next to him said, “You couldn’t have mine for a $100!” These were alpha males.
Anyway, I believe there are certain foods that go together so well, that I always associate them together. One of those combinations that I find extremely sympatico, is ginger and lime. My neighbor here in Blowing Rock is Jo Ann Hallmark, and her vocation is making wedding cakes. You just wouldn’t believe what these brides ask her to do. Each August, she asks me what I would like for my birthday cake. My birthday is September 18th, but I’m always in Durham by then. Most years, I request her coconut cake, and one year, I believe she made me German chocolate. But in most recent years, I’ve asked for a key lime pie with a ginger snap crust. There it is- ginger and lime. Here are a few more food combinations that I would list as legendary.
- Cherry and almond
- Coconut and curry
- Chocolate and orange
- Gingery and soy (sauce that is, not milk)
- Pork and fennel seed
- Peanut butter and molasses
- Clams and bacon
- Bacon and ________
There are other combinations that have been commercialized, like tomato and basil. And if I taste one more uninspired tomato basil soup or sauce, I’ll scream. But for sure, the worst commercialized combination is pumpkin spice. I wrote something about this combination two years ago, where I listed all of the pumpkin spice abominations. Starbucks started this thing with their pumpkin spice lattes. They used to start their pumpkin spice shenanigans around Thanksgiving, but I read this year, they did it before Labor Day. I don’t think they had it at the time I wrote about the horrors of pumpkin spice, but now Charmin even has pumpkin spice toilet paper…omg.