The benefits of the Tony La Russa hiring don’t really trickle down to anybody in the White Sox orbit who isn’t Jerry Reinsdorf, but it did bring enhanced relevancy to a 37-year-old cookbook, and the guy who tried everything in it.
The Athletic published a great story about Robert Konjek, a Toronto-based White Sox fan who has been running the La Russa Gastronomique blog since 2013. It started with an idea to try every recipe in “Home Plate: The 1983 White Sox Cookbook,” and he then expanded to include other MLB-branded or -endorsed works.
(There’s a copy of Frank Thomas’ “The Big Hurt’s Guide to BBQ and Grilling” floating around somewhere among my family.)
I’d seen the blog pop up closer to its origin, but I had no idea it was still going, so it’s cool to see Konjek get the recognition.
As is the case for many White Sox fans, the 1983 team holds a special place in Konjek’s heart. Under manager Tony La Russa, they won the AL West, the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 1959. At first, to Konjek, this was just another White Sox souvenir, a quirky piece of memorabilia that he assumed was just a one-off. But since the 1960s, most MLB teams (and many individual players) have published a cookbook.
Konjek began to gradually add to his collection — “it’s not exactly a heated collector’s market,” he says — but admits that his passion didn’t truly flourish until 2013, when he saw the movie “Julie & Julia,” about a woman who attempts to cook all 524 of Julia Child’s recipes in a year.
“That kind of put the idea in my head,” he said. “It was the 30th anniversary of that 1983 team. What if I took that old White Sox cookbook that I have and just cooked every recipe and did a little blog?”
He started with the Winning Ugly team’s recipes. La Russa contributed a tropical delight cake, which gets the following review:
The frosting is pretty intense. I mean seriously, what comes out of the oven after 40 minutes is a nice fruitcake that isn’t too dense or sickly-sweet. But then you frost the thing with what is essentially a banana cheesecake. Mercy!
(The “Mercy!” reminds me that it’s a shame Hawk Harrelson didn’t get to enjoy the spoils of the Frick Award ceremony this summer.)
In the comments of the article, reporter Alex Coffey added that Konjek became a White Sox fan thanks to the Bill Veeck-era uniforms. So there’s at least one person outside of Chicago who liked the lapels, and there’s at least one person who benefits from the La Russa’s return.
More people might be thankful for Tim and Bria Anderson, who delivered 205 Thanksgiving turkeys to families in need in Tuscaloosa. They’re set to return to Chicago in December for a Christmas toy drive.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
One of the things that I’m most thankful on this Thanksgiving is that I don’t have to eat most of those recipes. Klu’s chicken breasts looks just awful. And I hope LaRussa manages better than he cooks. That blogger must have PTSD.
Happy and safe Thanksgiving everyone!
To be fair, Ricky was famously a good chef.
Of course. Not only is there a new post on Thanksgiving, but it’s a post relevant to both the Sox and Thanksgiving. Incredible, as always. I’m very thankful for Jim and all of the other Sox Machine writers and contributors. Happy Thanksgiving to everybody!
La Russa, fruitcake, seems like a good combination.
Thanks to Jim, Josh, Ted, Greg, & all who make this Machine great. I had not thought of this book since around the time Dan Spillner collected a few innings at Comiskey. It reminds me that Tony La Russa used hairspray during this era.
My like was partly to second the gratitude but mostly for the great link to a very funny page.
I actually still have that cookbook and occasionally make Floyd Bannister’s Sweet and Sour Chicken. Never had the courage for Tony’s fruitcake.