A movie by Joseph Mankiewicz. The hasbeen movie director Harry Dawes, played by Humphrey Bogart, is hired by the filthy rich producer Kirk Edwards to direct a movie. They go to Madrid to find a new face, and they find the gypsy dancer Maria Vargas, played by Ava Gardner. Her first movies are very successful, yet quickly she is disgusted of the rich producer, and she goes to another rich man, and is still unsatisfied. Finally she meets the Italian Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini, who decides she would make a great contessa...

The most interesting aspect of this picture is the portrait of "The world's most beautiful animal", as the movie's tagline calls Ava Gardner. She can only dance when barefooted... And her deepest dream is that of finding the charming prince. Yet the description of life in Hollywood or in the Riviera is very funny, and the dialogues are very good. In the movie, Bogart might be representing Mankiewicz as the director who has been making movies for "longer than he wants to remember".

(Revised and expanded, 14 December 2009)

Ina Garten, the Food Network's "Barefoot Contessa," hosts a popular cooking show and has published six cookbooks. Her first two books - The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (1999) and Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun (2001) - capitalized on her reputation in The Hamptons as a caterer and owner of a chic specialty food store - The Barefoot Contessa.

The Food Network brought Garten a national following, and she has since published four best-selling cookbooks: Barefoot Contessa Family Style (2002), Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home (2004), Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over Again (2006), and Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients (2008). Some of her sauces, relishes and desserts are marketed under the Barefoot Contessa Pantry label.

Ina Garten projects a calm, Manhattanite-in-the-Hamptons personality, a nice contrast for those who easily tire of the Food Network's more energetic stars. Garten's recipes are sound, tasty, and relatively easy to prepare, and her cookbooks are well-edited and include beautiful food photography. I recommend her Indonesian Ginger Chicken, Endive and Avocado Salad, and Herbal Ice Tea. These recipes are often included in the Food Network's online recipe database, usually for a limited time when older episodes are repeated. Be sure to print out any of her recipes that interest you.

The food industry is a second career for Garten, a former nuclear energy policy specialist for the U.S. White House Office of Management and Budget. She resides in the New York/Connecticut region of the U.S. Northeast with her husband, Jeffrey, an accomplished international trade specialist and former Dean of the Yale School of Management.

References:

Liz Seymour, "Entertaining Barefoot." The Washington Post, Thursday, November 18, 2004; p H11 (interview)

Ina Garten and Martha Stewart, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1999), book jacket text.

Martha Stewart, "Ina Garten: Back to Basics," Martha Moments blog, October 15, 2008. (Martha Moments - yes, it seems Ms. Stewart has a measure of self-deprecating humor).

Barefoot Contessa website, About Ina.

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