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My Childhood Obsession with “The Fonz,” Plus a Recipe for Henry Winkler’s Steak Broiled in Beer in <i>Eating With the Stars</i>

My Childhood Obsession with “The Fonz,” Plus a Recipe for Henry Winkler’s Steak Broiled in Beer in Eating With the Stars

Eating With The Stars, Television
Henry Winkler thumbs up
“The Fonz …with thumbs up action!”

When I was in fifth grade ABC’s Happy Days became a the most talked about sitcom on TV.  Its breakout star was Henry Winkler, who played Arthur Fonzarelli, a loveable greaser with a heart of gold.  He was also known as “The Fonz.”  In real life Winkler was a nearly 30-year-old Jewish actor from New York who had recently moved to LA to gamble on making it big.  How do I know this?  Because I was in love with Fonzie.  Fonzie was cool, sexy, and popular. He rode a motorcycle and could fix a jukebox with a single, masculine jab.  I could do none of these things, which gave the character a great deal of mystery to me.  What was also completely mysterious to me, was that I didn’t want to be like Fonzie, I wanted to be with Fonzie.  I wouldn’t be able to make sense of this until many years later.

But back in 5th grade my Fonzie fixation knew no bounds, even extending to a somewhat unfortunate ruse involving said obsession.  There was a friendless girl named Lisa who knew of my adoration for The Fonz.  She told me one day, rather causally, that Henry Winkler was her cousin and I totally believed her.  She said that if I wrote him a letter she would give it to him and try to arrange for me to meet him adding, “I can’t promise you anything, David, but I will try.”

That was enough for me: I wrote the letter to him straight away and for the next ten months tried to follow up.  “So did you have that family picnic on Sunday?” I would ask, attempting to ferret out any information about “cousin Henry.”  Or another day: “Hi Beth, will your cousin be attending the family reunion you mentioned?”  As the weeks turned into months, I slowly came to realize that fat Beth might be telling me a lie so I would pay attention to her.  The irony is that I like her well enough before she created the Henry Winkler lie, but I didn’t like her at all when, after months of being jerked around, I began to accept the fact that I would have to find another way to meet Mr. Winkler  When I grew up I realized I was more like Beth than felt comfortable.

After the jump more Arthur Fonzarelli trivia, plus Winkler’s recipe for steak broiled in beer, in Eating With the Stars.

Henry Winkler book
The Fonzie Four Pack: A Collection of Winker bios that I have owned since the mid-1970s. Because you never know when you might need them?

As a kid, I also read Fonzie bios—in fact, when I was launching Stargayzing and going through boxes of crap, I was amused (and bit chagrined) to see that I still owned four Henry Winker biographies.  But hey, I save everything in case I might “need it someday.” While most people would probably never actually have a need for a collection of Fonize books, I actually—finally—do: to illustrate this blog entry.

I still remember a quote from one of these books wherein Winkler says that when he relocated to Los Angeles prior to his breakthrough on the show, he worried that he had made a 3000 mile mistake with his life.  God only knows why certain things have stuck in my head, but when I finally moved to L.A. in 1986, it was Winkler’s words I would hear when having a particularly difficult day.  So belated thanks to Mr. Winkler for giving me the words to describe my own cross-country anxiety.

None of my Fonzie ephemera is quite as ephemeral as his obscure recipe for steak broiled in beer.  I cannot reveal where I obtained this recipe but I will tell you that it was most certainly not from Lisa, though all is forgiven—at least on my end.


Henry Winkler’s Steak Broiled in Beer

2 lbs. top sirloin, cut 1-1/2 inches thick

1 cup beer

12 dashes Tabasco sauce

2 tbsps. parsley, chopped

2 tbsps. chives, chopped

2 tbsps. soft butter or margarine

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Trim excess fat from steak.  Combine beer and Tabasco; marinate steak in beer-Tabasco combination in refrigerator 12-24 hours, turning several times.  Remove from refrigerator, allowing steak to warm to room temperature before cooking.

Combine parsley, chives, butter salt and pepper to taste.  Smear steak on one side with half the parsley paste.  Broil to desired doneness.

Reverse to cook on second side, coating with remaining paste.  Serve at once.

NOTE:  Terrific with red wine sauce:  Copmbine 1 tsp. of pressed garlic, 2 tbsps. of chopped parsley, 2 tsps. of butter, 1/2 cup of dry red wine.

Heat and cook to reduce slightly in volume.  Pour over steaks just before serving.  Also great topped off with mushrooms.

Serves 4.


These recipes might go nicely with Fonzie’s steak:

Sending Warm Wishes to Valerie Harper, and a Recipe for Her Summer Squash in Eating With the Stars

Captain & Tennille-a-palooza!: The Life Lesson I Learned from Toni Tennille, Plus a Recipe for Her Rice Creole Dish in Eating With the Stars

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