Chow Bella

64: Marianne Belardi

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I arrived in Phoenix (in November 1989) with... the intention to exchange a cold, New York winter for an enviable suntan and quality time with my sister, while I waited to join the Nassau County police force. Two days after arriving, I landed a position as a French technical translator. By the time I received the academy's call-up notice, I had been thoroughly seduced by the climate, lifestyle, and affordability of our beautiful Sonoran desert. When the project I was translating was scrapped, a restaurant job seemed ideal to support myself while writing the proverbial great American novel. Much of my family was horrified, having envisioned me segueing from college to being a diplomat, interpreter or teacher, if not a cop. The 'restaurant bug' bit me, and I spent the next 5 years wearing pillbox hats and fishnet stockings, serving burgers and sass at the late, great fifties diner tribute that was Ed Debevic's. I'm still having trouble removing that stinger.

If I were sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... so difficult to choose, as I can imagine dozens of such tables. I have scribbled ideas for a book based on this, no joke. Each chapter would be a dinner party, detailing the menu, venue, guests, and ensuing conversation/shenanigans. I wouldn't sit with them; but I would join in the camaraderie and conversation while I cooked for, and served them, in a big, farm-style kitchen. Here's a sample:

Wisecracking sexpots: Anaïs Nin, Mae West, Dorothy Parker, Marilyn Monroe, Cher, Madonna. Spiritual philosophers: Carl Jung, Leo Buscaglia, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle. Female writers: Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Agatha Christie, Erma Bombeck, M.F.K. Fisher. Gemini men: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Cole Porter, JFK, Andy Griffith, Maurice Sendak, Prince/Johnny Depp [they're so thin, they could share one chair].

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Chow Bella