by Steven Doyle
As a child I enjoyed the very best of all the local latch key television that included all the wonderful people you may remember, or perhaps not. For me it was not about animated shorts or faux rock stars being chased from one room to another to the tune of Daydream Believer. No, it was about the food, even then.
The Dallas public television station was on the leading edge of all things foodie, even back in the 70’s with such giants as Jeff Smith the Frugal Gourmet, Justin Wilson the comedic Cajun who threw down a mean pot of gumbo, Graham Kerr the inebriated Galloping Gourmet, Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. But perhaps few recall the Gourmand that Gourmands talked bout, David Wade.
I was absolutely mesmerized by Wade’s astute elocution, the wacky ascot and jacket in the kitchen, and the dishes he created that I had never been exposed to before in my short life. It was possibly more about the words that the finished dishes. Admittedly, Wade was not a chef but recognized as one of the top “food presenters”. That was a term possibly reserved just for Wade as he was no doubt difficult to categorize. But his words stuck with me throughout my life.
Ingredients became “trappings”, taste became “a staccato of flavor”, and onions were the “tympani of the kitchen”. I also recall the word “melange” being bandied about quite a bit; as in a melange of flavor, or a melange of vegetables. That had to be Wade’s signature word.
To see and hear Wade you might think Thurston Howell III. You might not be too far off.
Wade had his own coat of arms
Wade authored several cookbooks, and there were companion booklets to his television program which aired in major markets in the U.S.. He also had a weekly column in his hometown Tyler Morning Telegraph and in the Houston Chronicle. I recall my mother attempting his turkey made in a brown paper bag one year for Thanksgiving. I believe we ate cheeseburgers that year. For the recipe you needed a major amount of peanut oil. I found the recipe here.
There were a few other recipes I recall, such as his prime rib roast, which I am sure my mother recreated. Or the oddly named “Sahib Eight Boy Chicken Curry”, which might have been better suited for Jeff Smith’s program.
Wade was quite the showman, and reminded me much of the Wizard who ruled over Oz. To point, in 1980 Wade established a world record by preparing a gourmet meal in a hot-air balloon during a flight over Dallas. Only the Gourmand that Gourmand’s Spoke About could pull off such a stunt while in all his ascot regalia.
Wade passed away at age 77 in 2001. No doubt his procession was filled with a melange of family and fans.
I hope to be a gourmand when I grow up.