Me and Mary – MoToMove #18

For over twenty years I ran a small exclusive catering business in New York City.  One of my clients was an interior designer who decided to have a series of dinner parties to show off the décor in his new apartment to his top clients.  And so, my mission impossible staff and I rallied uptown to carry out the order.  To tell the truth the apartment was gorgeous but the kitchen, although sleek and beautiful, was not a cook’s kitchen. One night as I pureed fennel bulbs to fill roasted acorn squash halves, the boss came into the kitchen to inform me that one of the night’s guests was Mary Tyler Moore and she might have special requests for her diabetic diet.  Would I be able to accommodate that or should he send out for something?  Not to worry I assured him.  I mentioned that I had diabetes also. “So you’ll know what you have to make for her?”  Sure I would, but if she had any special requests send I’d be happy to speak with her. At that time, the mid-eighties, MTM was one of the few people I knew with “Juvenile Diabetes”.  I can remember thinking at the time how brave she was to speak out about her diabetes.  She gave hope ….encouragement… to make plans and live dreams.  And so it was an honor for me to cook for her.

About a half hour later one of my mission impossible team came into the kitchen to tell me that Mary would like to speak with me.  At that point I really couldn’t leave the kitchen, as I was juggling hors d’oeuvre trays with one hand and turning oven racks with the other in the tight space of this tiny New York galley kitchen when in walked MTM with her husband, the doctor.  She was thin as a rail, elegant as all get out and when she flashed that dazzling smile of hers I knew I had nothing to worry about.  We went over the menu.  She asked for small portions and that maybe she shouldn’t have the decadent molded dark chocolate bag filled with mocha mousse dessert.  I agreed and mentioned that I was in the same “JD club”. She said Kevin (host) told her and she felt comfortable that whatever I made her for dessert would be wonderful. “How about a lovely flute of fresh berries?”.  She liked the idea and thanked me.

As they were walking out of the kitchen I couldn’t help but shout out a thank you for all the good she was doing for “our cause”.

“Thank you.” she smiled and made her way out of the kitchen frenzy.

MTM was indeed our role model, our ambassador, a beacon of light back then.  She spoke out about living with Juvenile Diabetes.  It was at a time when diabetes was not common grounds for discussion or even conversation.  It was something you dealt with on your own.  So kudos to Mary Tyler Moore as the one who rallied for us.  I will always cherish that me and Mary moment.

By the way if you would like to try your hand at the creamy fennel and squash recipe ….. here it is.

2 acorn squashes, halved and scooped out of seeds and pulp.
Bake squashes skin side up in a 350 oven for about 45 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork.

1 bulb fennel, bulb and stalks coarsely chopped
2 T. butter, 1 T. olive oil
½ ts. fennel seed
½ cup heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Warm oil & butter.  Add chopped fennel and mix well.  Cover and cook on low flame for about one-half hour until fennel is very soft.
  2. In blender or food processor, puree fennel with seed and cream until very creamy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Fill each squash half with the puree.  Serve immediately or keep warm in 250 degree oven until ready to serve.