Food For Thought

Thursday, 25 May 2006, 5:00:00 AM

(unassigned)

Beverly Cohn

Editor-at-Large

The Getty Center played host for the 15th season to the literary series Selected Shorts – A Celebration of the Short Story, the signature literary program of New York’s Symphony Space. The “food fictions” focus on the impact food has in our lives.

The evening got off to a scrumptious start with a delectable reading by Fionnula Flanagan of Enough by Alice McDermott, the story of a woman whose lust for life ranged from extra helpings of ice cream to sexual activity well into her 70’s to eating her grandchild’s vanilla Dixie cup in her 80’s. Flanagan savored every written morsel and indeed the audience could almost taste that mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Rene Auberjonois gave a very satisfying reading of Just a Little More by V.S. Pritchett, the story of a man struggling with old age and loneliness who finds temporary satisfaction in a good piece of meat and extra sugar in his coffee.

Samantha Egger’s reading of “Mr. Badger” from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame brought a smile to many faces as she vocally mimicked the animals as they chomped their way through a variety of tasty snacks.

The absolute highlight of the evening was John Lithgow’s spellbinding reading of Taste by Roald Dahl, the story of two dueling wine connoisseurs who are determined to outsmart each other. The most pompous Richard Pratt is a guest for dinner in the home of stockbroker Mike Schofield. Pratt does not just drink the wine – he lives it and ascribes human characteristics in his critiques. As he sniffs and sips, he uses such words as gentle, gracious, feminine, tender, wistful, imperious, pithy, demure and naughty. A high-stakes bet is made between Pratt and Schofield that Pratt cannot guess the origins of an obscure claret. The bet? Scofield’s daughter’s hand in marriage vs. Pratt’s two homes. Who wins? Mmmm. You might need an extra helping of reading to find out the surprise ending.

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