An Accomplished Kitchen

Craig McCord

Craig McCord › Craig possesses 23 guitars and cannot play any of them. He likes fresh grilled sardines with a ...


While teaching millions that home cooking was good cooking, Marion Cunningham was famous for bending people's ears about her favorite subject: her belief that the nightly family dinner hour was vital and needed to be preserved, maintained and strengthened.

This quote sums up her philosophy quite well:

Home cooking is a catalyst that brings people together. We are losing the daily ritual of sitting down around the table (without the intrusion of television), of having the opportunity to interact, to share our experiences and concerns, to listen to others. Home kitchens, despite the increase in designer appliances and cabinetry, are mostly quiet and empty today. Strangers are preparing much of our food. And our supermarkets, which once considered restaurants and fast-food places the enemy, have joined the trend by enlarging their delis and offering ready-to-eat food they call "home-replacement meals." But bringing ready-cooked meals home is not the same as cooking in your own kitchen, where you are in control of the ingredients you use, where you fill the house with good cooking smells, and where you all share in a single dish, taking a helping and passing the platter on to your neighbor. Nothing can replace that.

(from the introduction to Cunningham's Lost Recipes: Meals to Share with Friends and Family.

Kim Severson in the New York Times writes:

"More than anyone else, she gave legitimacy to home cooking,” Michael Bauer, the executive food editor of The San Francisco Chronicle, said of Mrs. Cunningham. “She took what many people would say was housewife food and really gave it respect by force of her own personality.”

Mrs. Cunningham’s most enduring trait may have been her ability to make even novice cooks feel as if they could accomplish something in the kitchen. Indeed, she took many of them under her wing and drew from them for her popular book Learning to Cook.

Mrs. Cunningham was an important person in the firmament of food. This country’s greatest culinary talents admired her openness, her strength of conviction and her ability to light the pathway to a greater understanding of what food means to all of us.

Marion Cunningham, food writer, will be sorely missed.

Click here to read the NYTimes article in full.

Photo credit: Ben Margot | Associated Press