Though most famous for his roles in horror films, Price was a well-known art collector and gourmet. A Yale graduate with a degree in Art History, he appeared on the $64,000 Question as an "expert" contestant in the same category (He won half that amount), and was an avid collector and promoter of art, founding the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College in 1958-- the first "teaching art collection" owned by a community college.
As a gourmet, Price made his rounds on the talk show circuit in the 1960's and 70's, once chatting up Johnny Carson while demonstrating how to poach a fish in a dishwasher. (Note: I gleaned that information from wikipedia, so I hope it's true. Please do not suggest I punch myself in the face again). If any one happens to own that clip, I'd give anything to see it. The man had an odd sense of humor.
On a slightly more serious food note, Price and his second wife Mary produced a small number of cookbooks, one of which, I have in my own collection.
I found Come into the Kitchen quite by accident as I spent a lazy afternoon browsing The Abandoned Planet Bookstore on Valencia Street with a friend. At the time, I had no idea Mr. Price was an avid cook. As a lover of kitsch cookbooks, I immediately bought it without much reading it, simply noting the rather odd style and choice of illustration, as seen below...
When I got it home, I found that this book-- which is as old as I am-- was filled with bits of odd information, like the facsimile of the "Public Dinner Given to the Honorable James K. Polk" at the St Louis Hotel dated March 22nd, 1849. Given the expanse of the eleven course dinner created in his honor, I am not at all surprised that, weakened by diarrhea and severe intestinal cramps, Polk succumbed to an outbreak of cholera a few weeks later. No. that is not mentioned in the book.
What is in the book, odd tidbits aside, is a collection of American recipes, collected at a time when American food was not fashionable among "foodies". Fish balls a la Mrs. Benjamin Harrison is a favorite and one I shall be making in honor of our next inauguration. Check it out, if you are so inclined. It's worth it.
That's it for this week. I leave you with a clip from the film Theater of Blood, which I think perfectly combines Price's status as a horror film icon, his love of food, and his famously dark sense of humor.
Warning: This clip, though amusing, is rather violent, but not in a blood-and-gut-spewing way. If you are the queasy sort, or can't stomach the thought of anyone hurting puppies, do not view.