Volume XXVI · Spring 1971 · Number 3
Eastman Lemon Pie, or The Culinary Art of an Industrialist
The world has read and heard much of the business genius and charitable generosities of George Eastman, but all too little has been noted about his culinary talents. There is evidence that the Kodak magnate was gifted as a cook. Indeed, it is interesting to note his enthusiasm for cooking even while hunting in Africa in 1926. In his Chronicles of an African Trip, privately printed in 1927, he writes (with some pride, it is evident): ". . . when I had sprung on the party some of my coffee, biscuits, muffins, graham gems, corn bread, lemon tarts and huckleberry pie from my mixtures, Percival* said if I would join him for the next year and direct the cuisine he would give me half his pay. . . ." A bit later he writes: "The breadbaking is done in rectangular sheet-iron Dutch ovens set on top of the stove. . . . It is especially good for baking pies, as the bottom heat can be regulated so accurately in reference to the top." His cake-baking in the jungles of Africa also inspired some additional inventiveness. Harold Gleason relates that Mr. Eastman, on his return from Africa the first time, determined to find a more convenient way to transport all the ingredients necessary for baking cakes. After hours in the laboratory of his home, Mr. Eastman finally created a cake mix, handily carried in one container, which he successfully used in succeeding excursions in the 1920's.
More evidence of Mr. Eastman's culinary talents was unearthed recently by Mrs. George H. Whipple. She relates that at one time Mr. Eastman and Dr. Edwin S. Ingersoll of Rochester had a bet concerning which one could bake the best lemon pie. On the day of the bet, when Mr. Eastman was baking his pie, an important guest arrived—Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Robert A. Millikan. Mr. Eastman told Mrs. Whipple, "I'm afraid Millikan did not think me a good host because I had to excuse myself so often to see if my meringue was browning nicely."
Mr. Eastman won the bet, despite the inconvenience caused by the visit of Dr. Millikan. Mrs. Whipple preserved his lemon pie recipe which she describes as "delicious," and has given it to the University Library. For those who wish to sample his lemon pie, Mr. Eastman's recipe is printed below. Sadly, an Eastman recipe for pie crust does not survive.
Beat yolks of six eggs with one cup of granulated sugar. Add grated rind and juice of two lemons. Cook 15 minutes in double boiler, stirring constantly. Take from fire and when cool add the beaten whites of three eggs. Fill crust, which has been baked a light brown. Make meringue with three remaining egg whites, top off and put in oven to brown."
[Catherine D. Hayes.]