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Alfred Hitchcock's Quiche LorraineBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Rotund film director Alfred Hitchcock is still considered the master of suspense. Born in London in 1899, Hitchcock broke into films during the silent film era, first by drawing sets, then directing his first film in England in 1923. He had a keen sense for recognizing compelling stories, and believed in minimizing gore while building suspense and terror. He once said, "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it."
In 1923, Hitchcock married British film cutter Alma Reville, who became his best friend and greatest source of support and advice for his films. Alma proved to be Hitchcock's closest collaborator through out his career. She contributed to all of her husband's films, usually uncredited. Hitchcock would depend on Alma's input, and she would be shown stories, scripts, storyboards, and all elements through the final film edit. Other film collaborators have attested that the greatest compliment that Hitchcock would give on a script was to say, "Alma loved it." They had one child, Patricia, who was born in 1928.
A brilliant filmmaker, Hitchcock worked with many of the renowned actors and actresses at the time: Cary Grant, James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Claude Rains, Carole Lombard, Kim Novak, Robert Montgomery, Talullah Bankhead, Robert Cummings, Ray Milland, William Bendix, Janet Leigh, Rod Taylor, Anthony Perkins, and Barbara Harris.
Hitchcock was drawn to Nordic blondes, and developed a peculiar attraction for blonde newcomer Tippi Hedren during the filming of The Birds, and while married, he tried, much like a suitor, to manipulate her in her style of dress, mannerisms, and hair style, off camera as well as on (which was a subplot in his earlier film Vertigo). While he never approached her romantically, Hitchcock was extremely possessive of Hedren, and when she later bowed out of his films, he was torn and angry. It has been said that he took it personally when actress Grace Kelly retired from films to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956.
Much has been written about Hitchcock's odd behaviors and phobias, as well as his disdain for Hollywood actors. From a January 2013 Telegraph article:
'I'm frightened of eggs,' Alfred Hitchcock once told an interviewer. 'That white round thing without any holes…have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid?' Blood, he thought, was positively 'jolly' by comparison with a soft yolk.
He was funny about food, was Hitchcock. The great director – subject of a new biopic – was a man of Falstaffian appetite. In Hitchcock (out on 8 February), we see a heavily padded Anthony Hopkins phoning up Maxim's and having foie gras delivered all the way from Paris to Hollywood. He devours it straight from the can. This seems a fairly accurate depiction of how Hitchcock arrived at his famously rotund figure. When dining out, he would often flamboyantly order not one but three steaks, followed by three full portions of ice cream. And a pot of tea. Yet, as the egg example shows, there was as much horror as pleasure in his attitude to eating.
Despite his quirks, it was considered a great honor to work with the eccentric director.
Hitchcock's list of film classics is impressive and lengthy; here is a sample: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), Rebecca (1940), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941), Suspicion (1941), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), Rope (1948), Strangers on a Train (1951), Rear Window (1954), Dial M for Murder (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Torn Curtain (1966), Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972), and his final film, Family Plot (1976).In the mid 1950s, Hitchcock hosted The Alfred Hitchcock Hour mystery series, and it enjoyed a lengthy run on television. While his films were popular at the box office, only Rebecca won an Oscar for Best Picture, and he himself never won a directing Oscar. He did win the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America, the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globes, and the Best Director Award for Topaz from the National Board of Review, among others. But the golden Academy Award statuette eluded him.
In 1979, Hitchcock was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award, where he said of his wife, Alma, in his acceptance speech: "I beg permission to mention by name only four people who have given me the most affection, appreciation, and encouragement, and constant collaboration. The first of the four is a film editor, the second is a scriptwriter, the third is the mother of my daughter Pat, and the fourth is as fine a cook as ever performed miracles in a domestic kitchen and their names are Alma Reville." By this time, Hitchcock was quite ill; he had angina and his kidneys weren't functioning properly. Hitchcock passed away at age 80 in 1979 in Bel Air, California.
This recipe of Alfred Hitchcock's Quiche Lorraine was published in a 1961 cookbook, a compilation of famous men's favorite recipes, Kings in the Kitchen, Favorite Recipes of Famous Men. This dish is relatively inexpensive to make and can be modified to create other quiches, using up leftovers in the fridge.
Alfred Hitchcock's Quiche Lorraine
- 2 c. pastry flour
- 1/2 c. butter
- 1 egg yolk
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 c. water, cold
Work lightly together flour and butter. Add egg yolk, salt, and cold water. Chill the dough in refrigerator for 1 hour, or until required.
Then roll out half the dough and line pie tin. Prick here and there with point of knife and crimp the edges with tines of fork. (Rest of dough may be saved for another pie.)
- 2 to 3 slices cooked ham, diced
- 2 onions, sliced
- 4 eggs
- 2 c. milk
- Pinch salt
- Small pinch cayenne
- Pinch grated nutmeg
Into the uncooked pastry shell, place ham (diced). Sauté onions in butter and spread over ham.
In sauce pan, beat eggs, adding salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. Then add milk (preheated), beating continually while cooking over low fire until custard begins to thicken. Pour over ham in pastry shell and bake in moderate oven (375 degrees F) and 30 minutes, or until the custard is set and top is golden. Serve hot, directly from pan.
Serves 6 to 8.
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Booth, Gertrude, Kings in the Kitchen, Favorite Recipes of Famous Men, A.S. Barnes and Company, Inc., New York, 1961.
Internet Movie Database, Alfred Hitchcock (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000033/).
Wilson, Bee, The Telegraph, "Alfred Hitchcock's complicated relationship with food," (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/bee-wilson/9818987/Alfred-Hitchcocks-complicated-relationship-with-food.html), January 25, 2013.