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Tuesday, December 06, 2005 

A Life in the Culinary Front Lines

R.W. Apple, Jr had a terrific article last week on long time New York Herald Tribune food writer Clementine Paddleford, who wrote for the paper from 1936-1966 and in many ways was very much ahead of her time. She also wrote for Gourmet magazine.

Although she disliked cooking for herself, she produced competent steaks, pastas, curries and peach Melba (a personal favorite). But she never personally tested recipes for her columns or books, leaving that to the Trib's ninth-floor test kitchen.

Her thing was describing foods and their flavors. She once famously spoke of "a tiny radish of passionate scarlet, tipped modestly in white." She rejoiced in the harvest-time "scent of apples down orchard lanes, a drowsy winy scent permeating the country cellar, spreading across the market place." And when she traveled to Fulton, Mo., in 1946 for Winston Churchill's famous Iron Curtain speech, she wrote that the great man was served a soufflé that arrived in front of him "with a rapturous, half-hushed sigh as it settled softly to melt and vanish in a moment like smoke or a dream."

Ms Paddleford passed away in 1967.