Jan 14, 2014

A Pearl Among Us


No, I’m not speaking of the precious collectible created by oysters and other mollusks, but of violinist Itzhak Perlman. I have enjoyed his playing for decades and feel privileged to have, on several occasions, been a member of professional orchestras with which he appeared as a soloist. From a listener’s standpoint I also remember some wonderful live performances I attended. . .a recital at the Aspen Festival in 1970 stands out that featured, among other works, Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 9, Op.47 the Kreutzer. I really cannot recall the first time I listened to Mr. Perlman play, but I do remember that I was so very moved by him. For those who know his art and those who may not, here is a link to a performance of his playing the haunting Rachmaninoff Vocalise, Op.34.

One of the special treats of living on Manhattan’s Upper Westside from 1975 until 1989 was the possibility of running into Mr. Perlman unexpectedly in some commercial establishment or just on the street. I recall being amazed to see him one morning at the tennis courts in Riverside Park, skillfully returning tennis balls from his wheelchair. His wife was wearing a t-shirt that had the words “We Love Itzhak” printed on the back. Another place for a chance encounter was Zabar’s at 80th and Broadway. He said to me on one such occasion, “I never know what to order here – they have so many good things to eat!” True. And that brings me to the real impetus for writing this blog entry.

Sifting through boxes of old papers this past summer, I happened upon a recipe. Today I have no idea where I originally found it. I had cut it out of some musical newsletter I had received. On the back there is a “Viola Questionnaire” that leads me to conclude this newsletter had something to do with the viola – my instrument. The questionnaire was seeking information from viola teachers who might like to have their students participate in a viola workshop in Princeton, New Jersey. But – on the front side is the following:

Cooks of the String World, Take Note!

Contributed by Linda Morrison

Itzhak Perlman’s Favorite Meat Loaf

4 small onions

1 clove garlic

4 å_ lbs. ground veal

ketchup to taste

pepper and garlic salt to taste

a cup or two of boiling water

8 ounces of flavored breadcrumbs

1. Chop onions and saute until translucent adding minced garlic clove toward the end.

2. Put meat in big bowl. Add onions, garlic, ketchup, pepper, garlic salt. Knead by hand. Add water and breadcrumbs and mix well by hand.

3. Shape into 2 loaves in baking tins. Cook 30-40 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. “Stick a knife in,” Mr. Perlman says. “If it comes out cold, it’s not ready; if it’s warm, it is.” Yield: 10 -12 servings

I can in no way verify whether or not this recipe is actually Mr. Perlman’s – but then I have no particular reason to doubt it, string players being the honest brokers that they are. So, if you would like to experience Mr. Perlman in another sensory fashion, beyond listening to him play, and like meatloaf. . .here is your opportunity. And yes, I have prepared and enjoyed this recipe!