Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

No strangers on the tour bus

That hasn't happened in this group, and we have traveled together through Australia, New Zealand, Eastern Europe, northern Italy, Benelux, and, most recently, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

There were 20 in our group. That's a good number to get to know.

Eleanor Ostman Aune is our dependable leader. The Canadian sojourn was her 40th tour. A retired newspaper editor from St. Paul, Minn., and author of the cookbook Always On Sunday, Eleanor has an uncanny way of international networking to satisfy her followers' insatiable appetites for food, history, and geography.

Everybody laughs when Jorgen Viltoft, another Minnesotan, gets up from his seat while we are under way. We know Jorgen is up for a story that is funny even before he begins. A native of Denmark, he is the founder and past president of the Radisson Hotel chain and has been known to criticize the tiny soaps and skimpy towels found in some hotels. It seems that he and his wife, Lucille, are always assigned to the room with the most teddy bears, silk flowers, and other knick-knacks when our stop is at a bed and breakfast.

As we ride along, admiring the countryside and waiting for our next meal, talk centers on food, our first love after family. Carol Harris, who just moved to Las Vegas, has to be somewhat of a national microwave queen. After a budget cut, Carol lost her job as a county home extension agent and began teaching microwave classes. They became so popular that she wrote Let's Cook Microwave in 1974. She recalls that everyone told her no one was going to cook in the microwave so they certainly wouldn't need a book. That also was my opinion years ago when I interviewed her on a book tour to Toledo. But today her book is still selling - and I still don't cook in the speedy oven.

Surprise, surprise! Her latest cookbook, to be published this month, is The Christmas Candy Book. She developed all of the recipes, obviously before or after exercising. There's a lesson in that plan.

In my next life I want to be like Carol Peterson. Carol lives in California and is a food stylist who travels from coast to coast and beyond. Most of her work involves preparing the food and styling it for Pillsbury TV commercials. She and the Doughboy are on a first-name basis.

Marilyn Rubin and I have a lot in common. She is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, sister newspaper to The Blade. When she begins taking notes feverishly while I am just looking out the window, I wonder what I am missing that might make a column.

I envy bus mates Woodene Merriman, former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette restaurant critic, and her husband, Carl. They will again spend the winter on Maui, where her son owns the Hula Grill at Kaanapali where we have often met for dinner. Peter Merriman, rated as one of Hawaii's top chefs, also operates Merriman's on the Big Island.

Louise Smith, a freelance writer in Columbus, Ga., and I hit it off the first day and even left the group in Halifax and spent $35 on a cab ride to see the cemetery where Titanic victims were buried.

Me too, Louise. Very fortunate.

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