Thursday, April 09, 2009

An Ode to the Ann Arbor News Food Section

Home for spring break this week, I am attempting to organize things around the homestead. Today is the day I am tackling the box(es) of newspapers and magazine pages that I have been saving because a recipe caught my eye. I have been doing this since we moved into this house right after we got married in 1992. We chose Ann Arbor to live because at the time, I worked in Dearborn and my new husband worked in Jackson and Ann Arbor was "halfway". Now, Ann Arbor is no longer halfway between our commutes, but it is home to our children and we like it, so we're staying. All along, I have been saving parts of the Ann Arbor News food section.

Going through the boxes is bittersweet, because our local newspaper has met it's demise. The Ann Arbor News will cease publishing in July. As far as newspapers go, I can't say it was a great one - the locals snidely nicknamed it the Ann Arbor "Snooze" and would supplement it with a subscription to the New York Times Sunday paper. Indeed, the Ann Arbor News often cribbed stories from the Times or the Washington Post instead of writing their own stories. But I looked forward to the kooky letters to the editor, Jim Carty's sports columns, and most of all, the Wednesday food section. It did it's share of cribbing recipes from more famous newspaper food sections, featuring recipes from Mark Bittman or or J.M. Hirsch, which I often enjoyed, but it also had lots of local recipes, too.

A favorite feature of the the Ann Arbor News' food section was the Kitchen Mailbox. People would write in asking for recipes from local restaurants, and the News would try to track them down for you. There were countless requests from ladies of a certain age for their favorite Bill Knapp's recipes, after Bill Knapp's changed their menu and the senior citizens quit going there and the whole Michigan based chain went belly up. Also often requested were recipes from old time German restaurants that used to be an Ann Arbor mainstay, but gave way to fancier hot spots. Even I got into the act and once asked them for help getting the recipe for hot and sour soup like they serve at Kosmo's Deli in Kerrytown. They were unable to get the secret recipe. When I went in there, the owner Don who is one of the nicest people in the world, thanked me for writing in because it caused a run on the soup. He didn't give me the recipe, but he told me the ingredients and so I tried to make it at home myself, and did a pretty good job replicating it.

The two names that come up constantly when I go through almost 20 years of food section clippings are Catherine Arcure and Marge Biancke. I don't know Catherine and Marge, but they seem like old friends of mine. Their recipe writing style included names of their friends, such as "Jane's Lemon Ice". I once bought Catherine Arcure's cookbook that was published in 1993 on her 25th anniversary with the News that features a compendium of recipes from the paper. Catherine and Marge, whoever they are, seemed to have a lot of friends with good recipes. Also featured in these yellowed pages of the News were lists of the great cooking classes that were held each week at the now defunct cooking emporium Kitchen Port. I remember eagerly awaiting for cooking classes taught by Craig Common. Once KP moved from Kerrytown, I forgot to shop there, and I think there were many people like me who felt the same way. It was sad when they closed at the end of last year. The economy and the Internet did them in, just like the Ann Arbor News. I'm finding that I buy most of my kitchen gadgetry at garage sales these days. I get most of my local news from the Ann Arbor Chronicle, (even though I wish they had a regular recipe section) and even Jim Carty quit and went back to school and now I read his blog on the Internet instead.

It will probably take me the rest of the afternoon to clip all these recipes I wanted to try...and my goal will be to try them and blog about them eventually. I'll clip all the local recipes and feature them in blog posts in the future. Without the Ann Arbor News Section, where would we find a recipe for the Old German's Meat Patties? I clipped that recipe back in the 90s when the Old German closed. Haven't made them for myself yet, but I will soon, I promise!

4 comments:

Sharon Carty said...

Aw ... nice item. You're right, that piece of the newspaper will surely be missed. Hopefully they'll keep something like it in the new online version ...

Anonymous said...

Ahh, brings back memories. One recipe I would love to find is the potato salad that was served at the Old German Restaurant. It was a cold salad, the potatoes were shredded, it had green onions, and a vinegar based dressing. At one time it was sold at the small deli where Dexter and Huron Sts come together.

Cynthia said...

Here it is - the Old German potato salad recipe http://motherskitchen.blogspot.com/2012/08/ann-arbor-old-german-restaurant-potato.html

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have the recipe for the Stage Door restaurant's Seafood Chowder? Circa early 80's. I know it was published in a local paper but I can't find it online. Please email me at abbiblio@comcast.net. Thanks!