Truman Capote’s birthday is coming up September 30th. He was born in 1934 and died August 25, 1984. To celebrate his birthday it is altogether proper for one to dine on what he told E. J. Kahn, Jr. in 1984 was his staff of life. Kahn was a reporter and writer and a New Yorker man, who published The Staffs of Life in 1985, drawn from his series in the New Yorker. The Truman Capote recipe for the staff of life was an Idaho potato, that is the variety Russet-Burbank, smothered with sour cream, heaped with the freshest biggest-grained beluga caviar, and washed down with 80-proof Russian vodka.
Conceding that TC knew he was speaking for the New Yorker and that he had many short days himself, it is possible for everyone who admires him to celebrate September 30th by serving the Truman Capote recipe. A few short cuts will not be out of line.
I checked several sources on the internet for caviar looking for the less expensive choices. Forget the beluga, you are looking down the line for something available and far less expensive. American Salmon Caviar or Roe, please I don’t want to fight over the names, is described as “initially buttery to the palate,” and “intense salmon flavor.” It sells for 9 oz. tin at $80, 8 oz. for $29, and 8.8 oz. for $25 depending on where you shop. Black Bowfin Roe at 8 oz. for $56. Golden Whitefish Roe at 8 oz. for $19.90, and 8.8 oz. for $20. Wasabi flavored roeat 8 oz. for $20. Wasabi is neither mustard or horseradish although it has the flavor and fire of horseradish.
If you did not happen to inherit and keep your grandmother’s mother-of-pearl plates and spoons you can buy your own at $45 per plate, and $4 to $38 for each spoon. You can however take a shortcut and use white plastic spoons and a small glass bowl from any store. Vodka is just vodka regardless of what the advertisers try to make us believe. What Russian ever paused to taste it? None.
And if at this point you have drifted back to TC’s story, A Christmas Memory, of how he recalled his great aunt Sook Faulk cooked for, loved, and nurtured a lonely little boy along side her fruitcake making and kite flying, you are reading the right blog. Not only do you have the wonderful story, TC’s powerful reading of the story, you can now have the original recipe passed from Sook to her niece Marie Rudisill and from her to her book, Sook’s Cookbook: Memories And Traditional Receipts From The Deep South, Updated Edition.
TC was an American wonder and we are justly proud of him. You can not name a comparable Englishman, Canadian, Aussie, or Frenchman. Celebrate and dine on Truman Capote. Charles Marlin