In a revelation that may further fray the United States’ already volatile relationship with China, Stargayzing’s David Munk has learned that writer Frank DeCaro modified a recipe by America’s all-time favorite comedienne, Lucille Ball, in his best-selling book The Dead Celebrity Cookbook. “The recipe for Lucille Ball’s ‘Chinese-y Thing’ on page 100 of his book is completely misleading,” Munk sniffed. “Any aficionado of celebrity recipes worth his salt knows damn well that Lucy’s recipe was always called ‘Chinkee Goodee’!” Though DeCaro does mention the racist slur in his introduction, people close to the situation feel the recipe should have been used as it was written by Ball, or not at all.
This incendiary news has the potential to rip through the celebrity recipe community like a grease fire in the TMZ break room. Munk elaborated in a statement: “Miss Ball is a national treasure. You don’t just modify her dish and change ‘Chinkee Goodee’ to ‘Chinese-y Thing’ to suit the vagaries of political correctness.” Chinkee Goodie,’ though obviously inappropriate, was not that strange an appellation in its day. Mr. DeCaro has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.” Munk went on to elaborate on the danger of rewriting celebrity gastronomic history. “Is ‘Chinese-y Thing’ really so much better than ‘Chinkee Goodee’? Well, I guess it is, but still, it’s putting words in Lucy’s mouth. Do we re-edit Birth of a Nation because it is clearly wrong today? Where is the estate on this? Did DeCaro even run this by Lucie Arnaz or Desi Jr.? It’s unconscionable!”
The whistleblower, who writes both Stargayzing and its sister blog Eating With the Stars—a compendium of unmodified, sometimes politically incorrect celebrity recipes—happened upon the Lucille Ball recipe while researching a recipe for legendary Ball sidekick Vivian Vance’s Chicken Kiev. Munk explained, “An ongoing search by me and my team for the Vance Kiev recipe (long believed lost incidentally), led to The Tonight or Never Cookbook by Virginia Graham which was published in 1970 and is as out of print as a book can be.” DeCaro’s The Dead Celebrity Cookbook was published in 2011 and was, apparently, successful enough to spawn the 2012 sequel, Christmas in Tinseltown. Munk added, “Advocates of celebrity recipes have to decide whether they are going to grow a set and honor the historical facts, or whether they want to ride off into the sunset on a cloud of bland, feel-good, deracinated, mid-century dishes.”
Munk, who is also Stargayzing’s editorial board, decided not to share a defanged “Chinese-y Thing” recipe. “There’s something wrong about whitewashing a racist recipe and republishing it. Though at the end of the day it’s a pretty crap dish no matter what you call it,” he added. “I’d stick with her Chicken Sauté— it’s not bad and guaranteed not to offend anyone but a chicken. For the sake historical record keeping, Stargayzing has republished ‘Chinkee Goodee’ and shall let the fortune cookies fall where they may.”
*Alvaro is a world-renowned artist celebrated for his portraits and illustrations of the icons of film, music, and pop culture, as well as his “girls”—the super models. A true New Yorker, born in Brooklyn and raised in the South Bronx, Alvaro’s work is distinctive for projecting a contemporary streetwise sensibility while simultaneously evoking the timeless glamour of classic Hollywood.