“Do I smell Baked Pears Alicia?”

“Baked Pears Alicia”

Do I have a food fetish? I am fascinated by food as it is portrayed on screen or on stage. The subject has been on my mind due to all of the publicity for the movie, “Julie and Julia.” I was glad to see that Susan Spungen, the Martha Stewart veteran who styled the food for the movie, was the focus of some of the attention.  After all, in a movie about food, the food itself is one of the characters.

When I see people eating on TV or in the movies my mind goes right to: “Who really cooked the food?” “Is is hot or has it been sitting around for a while?” and on and on.

I’m a little vague on the origins of my fascination though. At least twenty years ago I read that the “roast beef” that the actors ate onstage nightly in a Broadway play was actually pumpernickel bread. Twenty-plus years I have carried this around with me.  Why?

A shrink would ask me, “What does this make you think of?” Ah. Easy: Veal Prince Orloff, guest star of an episode of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” where Sue Ann Nivens, a/k/a “The Happy Homemaker” catered a dinner party for poor, party-challenged Mary.

I use the term “guest star” loosely, because Veal Prince Orloff was, of course, not a person but an entrée. Wikipedia reports that Veal Prince Orloff is a braised loin of veal, thinly sliced, filled with a thin layer of pureed mushrooms and onions between each slice, and stacked back. It is then topped with béchamel sauce and cheese and browned in the oven. (This is based on the recipe in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.)

(Yes, there was a real Prince Orloff, a Russian ambassador to France during the 19th century.)

(Yes, I just googled Veal Prince Orloff to write this posting, and yes, it has its own Wikipedia entry.)

Which brings me to a startling revelation: the Veal Prince Orloff portrayed in the Mary Tyler Moore Show was not Veal Prince Orloff at all. A recent screening of the episode (ah, the sacrifices one makes to become a blogger) revealed that the item masquerading as Veal Prince Orloff was actually Beef Wellington. I can only speculate why this happened. Perhaps the prop-man thought Beef Wellington would “read” better on the small screen. Hey, that’s show biz, right? I should not be surprised that they cast the role based on looks.

Sue Ann’s dessert that night was “Baked Pears Alicia.” My research on “Baked Pears Alicia” was a bit more difficult as its screen time was much less than the Veal Prince Orloff. You get only the most fleeting glimpse of the pears as Mary passes them on a tray.

Now, I love crisps, cobblers, and pies, especially with a dab of ice cream melting on top, but let’s face it: sometimes fruit desserts can be such a let-down.

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Click here for the recipe for my version of “Baked Pears Alicia.”

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4 Responses to ““Do I smell Baked Pears Alicia?””

  • Dori Rosenthal:

    I love doughy cobblers, especially peach! Of course with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on top to “cut the sweet” as we say in the south… That being said, the absolute BEST dessert ala mode is in my humble opinion, Derby Pie….

  • admin:

    Hmmm…Derby Pie. Sounds like a good post for next May.

  • […] the past I have written about my obsession with food as it is portrayed on screen, but as you never actually see a babka in the “Seinfeld” episode, there is nothing for me to […]

  • Scott:

    Funny – I just googled “pears alicia” because I was thinking of this line from the Mary Tyler Moore show and up pops this exact reference. For some odd reason – I too remember this episode and the food in it….

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