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Baguette Justice

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

I began 2011 with a post titled Food and Law, in which I referred to e-pal Leslie’s post on her dinner with Supreme Court justice Ruth Ginsburg. Leslie had a follow-up post yesterday regarding the “perfect baguette” recipe of Ruth’s late husband Marty.

It turns out that Marty Ginsburg was an excellent cook. Leslie was able to get Marty to reveal his baguette recipe over the phone, and she wrote it down for him to verify, which he did. That recipe, as then recorded by Leslie, was kept private at his request, but it has now appeared in Chef Supreme: Martin Ginsburg, a book of Marty’s recipes assembled by other Supreme Court spouses. The book is published by the Supreme Court Historical Society and available at the Supreme Court gift shop.

Leslie has more about the Ginsburg baguettes in a post from three summers ago, where she describes them as “crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside … like the ones you get in France.” Indeed, she considers them “the best baguettes I have ever had outside of France.”

NPR featured the book in a piece a month ago with famed Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg, from whom we learn that

The idea for the cookbook, Chef Supreme: Martin Ginsburg, came from Martha-Ann Alito, wife of Justice Samuel Alito. It hit her the day after Marty Ginsburg’s memorial service in 2010.

“One of my first conversations with Marty, in the fall of 2006, was about food and nourishment, and how satisfying an expression of love that it was for him,” she recalls. “And that, in part, led to the idea that we should put the cookbook together.”

The other Supreme spouses quickly agreed. They had often teamed up with Marty Ginsburg to provide the food for the monthly spouse lunches. But none of them had any idea what a large undertaking the cookbook would be.

First, a word about Marty Ginsburg’s love affair with cooking. It began, strangely enough, when he was in the army at Fort Sill, Okla., with his new bride, the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Neither of the Ginsburgs knew much about cooking then, but one of their wedding gifts was The Escoffier Cookbook, the bible of French cooking. And so Marty, a chemistry major, began at page one and worked his way through the entire volume. As he observed in a speech in 1996, there was method to his madness then and later.

“I learned very early on in our marriage that Ruth was a fairly terrible cook and, for lack of interest, unlikely to improve. This seemed to me comprehensible; my mother was a fairly terrible cook also. Out of self-preservation, I decided I had better learn to cook because Ruth, to quote her precisely, was expelled from the kitchen by her food-loving children nearly a quarter-century ago.”

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Categories: Food, Law
  1. ljkarst
    January 21, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Merci, mon ami!

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