“I’ve been told that my eating habits are absolutely bizarre,” said Marilyn Monroe in 1952 – “but I don’t think so.” In the morning she would heat milk on a hot plate while having a shower – then break in two raw eggs and knock it back as she dressed. “I doubt if any doctor could recommend a more nourishing breakfast for a working girl in a hurry,” she told Pageant magazine.
Buried inside the pages of two stained and well-loved cookbooks are recipes, shopping lists written in her own hand and a sensible mealtime schedule printed on a sheet of paper – for breakfast she liked hot cereal with two slices of toast and a glass of milk. Lunch might be a boiled egg or spaghetti with tomato and butter. In the evening she would grill chops, steak or liver, huddled over her hotel room oven, then finish it off with rice pudding and an eggnog at 11pm.
Marilyn Monroe’s cookbooks will be sold at the Siegel Auction Galleries, New York, on 22 June. They’re expected to fetch $75,000.
A passion for pastrami
Pastrami has always been sexy, says Josie Delap in The Economist. Its salty, smoky excesses “are part of its pleasure”. A good New York pastrami sandwich should “be large enough to inspire a certain apprehension”. It harks back to Ottoman Turkey, where basturma or pastirma was pressed, spiced meat – it may have been produced by riders “stashing the beef in their saddlebags and pressing it with their thighs as they rode”. Now you know that, you’ll never look at a sandwich the same way again.
Food and sex have always been closely linked in Jewish thinking, but pastrami has particular power. In an episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza is overcome with lust when a date produces a platter of “sensual” pastrami. It’s the sandwich Billy Crystal is having at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met Sally, as Meg Ryan educates him in the ways of womankind. “What would you rather have: an orgasm or a pastrami sandwich?”
Ingredient of the week: honey
Humans have always been obsessed with honey, says Leah Hyslop in Waitrose Food. Vikings fermented it into their mead. Spanish cave paintings show foragers scaling cliffs to raid beehives. Ancient Egyptians sealed jars of honey in tombs to make the journey “to the afterlife that little bit sweeter”. These days Brits consume more than 40,000 tons of honey a year – a lot when you think that “a single bee produces just a 12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime”. Try drizzling yours over courgettes. Or just spread over toast with butter.