Editor's Notes: How do we say farewell?July 31, 2007 | Old Colony Memorial
By Scott C. Smith, CNC Newspapers
Call it a generation. That's about what 25 years is. And that's about how long Richmond Talbot wrote for the Old Colony Memorial. Yes, wrote.
There will be a void in this week's Weekend edition of the paper. Richmond and Annette Talbot have decided to hang up their pens, so to speak. Their last columns ran last week. This week in my column I want to thank them. Saying farewell to friends is hard to do.
Annette's wit, recipes and cooking commentary graced our pages for the past few years in her popular Plymouth cooks column. She always wrote with a sprightly pen, and you could feel a pixy-ness in her voice. I read every word of every column - not because I was her editor; I wasn't until last fall. But because I enjoyed her writing and felt comfort in what she had to say. Thanks, Annette, for bringing your cheerfulness and unending stories into my life.
Richmond went beyond his Good eating column for the past few years, writing Here and there, an insightful look around town and at the world. But it's his food writing that we most remember him for, and it's the man behind the long-running column that I salute here.
What does one say about a great guy with a terrific gift for words? That he is a good writer and photographer is accurate but misses the mark. That he entertained us week in and week out is perhaps more appropriate. I think he'd like to hear that said of him. I hope he puts out a book of his columns. It would sell well.
Instead of my going on about Richmond, I think I'll simply let Richmond speak for himself. You can come up with quotable lines from any of his columns. Here's some from columns he wrote during my tenure with the paper. I picked columns at random from 2000 on and pulled a winner from each one. Here's just a few, as space allows.
"I think of sardines as a guy thing. Do women eat them? My wife and daughters don't, so a can of sardines is, for me, a solitary pleasure. It's something to open up when I'm hungry, and there's nothing in the refrigerator but low-fat yogurt."
"On the Fourth of July it's better to eat potato salad and believe the past was glorious. The rules of ethics have changed over the years, and we've never been a nation of saints by any standard, but we weren't a nation of blackguards either. There's plenty to celebrate and the past got us where we are."
"The ocean of memory and the sea of forgetfulness are one. Facts I long for litter the bottom like the bones of drowned sailors, never to be seen again. It seems like my memory is bad. Was it ever good? I don't remember."
"If I had foreign guests - say a couple of French gourmets - I wouldn't want them to go home thinking America is the culinary wasteland they'd been led to believe it is. I sometimes fantasize about this. I'd get my wife, Annette to make chowder and bake them a pie. I'd put in a pot of baked beans. I'd get a good steak and cook it on the outdoor grill. I'd steam a lobster in seawater and get them some fried clams."
"According to the French, only Americans are barbarous enough to add lettuce to a bacon and tomato sandwich, so I ate mine without greenery this year."
"Karl Jung believed human psychology is full of archetypes - images that are common to humans as a species and dominate our behavior, our mythology and our dreams. If it's true, I bet one of them is the combined flavor of meat and smoke, which must go back to the domestication of fire."
"No one when he comes to die says, 'I wish I'd spent more time on business.' Giving full attention to the bite of the mustard, the crunch of the lettuce, and the juiciness of the beef is my idea of doing two or three things at once. We need the food and the time to enjoy it. We should insist on it. We should eat with people we like and as often as we can with people we love."
"I fry my bacon, watching it closely. Bacon remains raw-looking in the pan and then burns when you turn your back to get a paper towel to drain it on."
"August makes me nervous because there are so many wonderful foods it will soon be too late to eat. I have to taste sweet blackberries warmed by the sun. I have to check out the blueberries below the power lines, and if the wild ones aren't enough, I'll pay to pick the cultivated ones. I almost never get my fill of fresh corn.
The arc of the sun is getting shorter. Every night I watch it dip below the horizon further and further south. Soon I'll be back in front of the television and they'll be showing me happy people splashing on Florida beaches. Right now we have our own beaches. Pack the cooler and go."
"An excellent cocktail is an omen of things to come. Annette had a jasmine, which was made of gin, Campari, lemon juice, and Cointreau. I had something they call a phantasm, made with lemongrass infused vodka, lime juice, and falernum.
"I asked the bartender whether there's a commercial lemongrass vodka or they infuse their own. He said it's homemade, but easy. You just cut up some lemongrass and leave it to soak a few days until the vodka gets cloudy. I plan to experiment. I picture the drink as part of my summer entertainment. 'Would you care for a phantasm?' I'll say."
"Among us amateurs, one-upmanship may turn conviviality into egoism. Who has the finer olive oil, the more expertly roasted coffee, or the fresher fruit? Along with an exaltation of the rare and exotic may come a disdain for the more common pleasures of life, although serious eaters have secret vices. Among mine are Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and McDonald's sausage biscuits."
"When it comes to home repair, I'm a thumb-banger. I come from a long line of them. The only ancestors I know of who weren't thumb-bangers were like my grandfather Harry R. Talbot, who I believe never picked up a hammer in his life."
"We ought to admire single mothers who raise their families in a difficult world. We should offer a pat on the back to divorced fathers who pay their share and spend quality time with their kids. But the best thing you can do for your children is keep on loving their other parent. We should give such couples a great big round of applause."
Maybe Richmond should publish a calendar, the one-day-at-a-time kind with memorable quotes from his writings. The kind where we tear off each day and keep the good ones. We'd have quite a pile after a while.
Thanks, Richmond. Safe voyage.