How did I miss this? A visit with Ina by Erica Hill on the Today Show a few days ago...
Erica says, “You walk in and it smells warm and inviting like home.” I bet it does and I bet even Jeffrey carries the scent of gumdrops with him wherever he goes.
Ina adds, “And there’s always a cocktail.” Of course, there is. No matter that it’s 10 in the morning. Oh, I think this is a piece about holiday entertaining, not her life in general, although I bet the two do intersect quite a bit.
Ina has MANY of her books laid out on the counter in one of the shots.
Ina likes a lit fire and music playing, so that the first person who arrives really feels as if he or she is at a party and that they didn’t come on the wrong night! OMG, can you imagine? Every time I have company, even if it’s only the plumber, I have to hide my snuggie.
Ina continues, “There’s a reason a dinner party is called ‘entertaining’. It’s supposed to be like theater”...yeah, as long as the dinner doesn’t come out resembling Kabuki. We see a scene of a dinner gathering from the Barefoot Contessa show and Erica informs us that, “YES, those are her real friends on the show.” Well, any Ina fan knew that.
Ina says, “My first rule is I invite people I love, because cooking is hard.” Gosh, that is soooo true. We’ve all had to cook for folks that maybe we didn’t like so much and there IS a huge difference between that and turning out a meal for friends or family that we are delighted to be serving.
Ina shows Erica the kitchen in her house, where they filmed for years. It looks so familiar to her, but smaller. Ina says it’s easier to work in a small kitchen. Erica reports that many nights Ina will serve dinner to six people in that kitchen. Ina says she can cook and serve and she never has to leave the party. Good point and, of course, if I had a kitchen like that, I probably wouldn’t want to leave it either.
Oh, good for Erica, she asked Ina what was in the fridge. I wonder how much butter and cream reside there on a normal day…I bet she has another fridge somewhere (oh, IN THE BARN, of course) that is filled with NOTHING BUT BUTTER, CREAM AND EGGS. (Change that, the eggs are probably in the custom-built cold cellar, somewhere on the back 40.)
Ina has eggs in the door of the fridge! (Not the right place to store them!!!) There’s fruit and A LOT of wine and Champagne. Alcohol is probably the biggest category.
We see a snippet of Erica helping Ina make pecan sandies as a gift to take when she goes to someone else’s house. Erica asks her what HER favorite gift to receive is. I have a few predictions of what she might say:
- An apartment in Paris? Oh wait, she has that.
- A great love? Jeffrey’s probably waiting in the next room.
- Fame? Check!
- Fortune? Been there, done that.
What does Ina say? She says JEWELS! Her real answer, though, is that she likes things that are homemade. She says she thinks we all give what we really like ourselves. Too true. She loves cookies or something to serve with hors d’oeuvres.
Erica asks if people get intimidated giving her food gifts. She says warmly, “I hope not!” She adds, “The truth is about cooks, they love when somebody else cooks. They don’t even care what it is. Just so you don’t have to decide the menu. You don’t have to make it.”
I’m so with her on that one! Especially deciding the menu part. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to the people in my house, tell me what you want for dinner. I will make you ANYTHING! And they say, “Whatever you want…” That’s fine at a jewelry store, but for planning meals, sometimes it’s nice to have someone else decide.
We see some shots of Ina’s Long Island paradise and also of Paris, where Erica says Ina and Jeffrey like to celebrate New Year’s with a warm meal and friends. Ina says she makes something simple, like Pasta With White Truffles or Lemon Capellini With Caviar. Erica asks her if she ever makes resolutions. Ina says you do that until you’re 20 and then you decide you’re never going to follow them, so why make yourself unhappy? Perfect answer.
Erica’s interview was pretty good. I was happy when she moved to NBC after CBS gave her the shaft, but there are so many other questions I would have asked Ina.
- How do you get your hair so shiny?
- Does Jeffrey every have a bad day or is he really as adorable as he seems?
- Do you have minions (à la Martha Stewart) out in your herb garden in the winter, warming the plants with hair dryers so they stay lush during the cold weather?
- How much butter DO you go through in week?
- Do you and Paula know each other and do you meet up for cocktails (and doughnuts) every once in awhile?