90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry White’s Lessons On Cooking For Crowds

Merry White is a professor of food anthropology and author of "Cooking for Crowds," which has just been released in its 40th edition. (Boston University)

Merry White is a professor of food anthropology and author of “Cooking for Crowds,” which has just been released in its 40th edition. (Boston University)

When Merry “Corky” White was a graduate student in Cambridge, Mass., back in ’70s, she took to catering to make some money.

She cooked for scholars at Harvard’s West European Studies — she reasoned they might know European food, so things like lamb curry — considered daring in the day — appeared on her menu. Along the way, she found herself cooking for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis when she dropped by Harvard.

White is also the author of “Cooking For Crowds,” first published in 1974. With the 40th anniversary edition now hitting bookstores, she joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson with a lesson on cooking for 50.

Interview Highlights: Merry White

On making do with limited cooking supplies

“Pretty much the only change to my kitchen from my ordinary graduate student supplies was the size of pots. I ended up, in fact, buying large pots. I still had that four-burner stove that most people had in the day. Sometimes I had to use two burners for one of those pots. But you know, you just made do. I was doing a lot of things with my hands that you could now do with a Cuisinart … and a lot of things that we take for granted. We just spent lots more time.”

On adjusting a recipe to feed 50 people

“Expanding a dish is kind of tricky. Some of the things are straight mathematical multiplication, but a lot of things aren’t. The use of spices, for example, can’t simply be multiplied, because some of them have — especially if you’re making a dish ahead — a lot more power as they rest. There’s where cooking something for the first time doesn’t really work. When you’re cooking for 50 people, you might want to try it out.”

Words of advice for a first-timer

“Take a long walk, and a nap. Settle the menu to be something that you can make ahead. Make sure you’ve got some good music while you’re cooking. Don’t cut your fingers.”

Guest

  • Merry White, author of “Cooking For Crowds” and a professor of food anthropology at Boston University. She tweets @merrycorkywhite.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 16 5 Comments

Oklahoma City Bombing Juror Looks Back

Mike Leeper was Juror No. 5 in Timothy McVeigh's trial for the 1995 terror attack that killed 168 people.

April 15 Comment

‘Institutional Memory’ Of U.S. Senate To Retire

Donald Ritchie has spent nearly 40 years keeping track of Senate lore and delivering weekly historical minutes to Senate lawmakers.

April 15 Comment

Watson Can Win ‘Jeopardy!’ But Can It Cook?

IBM has created a new cooking app called Chef Watson. Eliza Strickland threw a dinner party to find out if it works.

April 14 117 Comments

Turkish Professor Concludes There Was An Armenian Genocide

While Turkey denies the killings were genocide, a Turkish professor explains how she arrived at the opposite conclusion.