Even in death, Joan Rivers keeps making headlines.
On Wednesday, the New York Post reported that publicist Beck Lee hired an impersonator to create a fake “last recording” of Rivers, which he used to promote the off-Broadway show “My Son the Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy” for his client, Brad Zimmerman.
On Thursday, CNN reported that Rivers’ doctor, named as Dr. Gwen Korovin, began an allegedly unauthorized biopsy on Rivers before she went into cardiac arrest. That report came on the heels of another headline-grabbing CNN story — the same doctor purportedly took a selfie with Rivers while the star was under anesthesia.
Also this week, The Associated Press reported that several months prior to her death, Rivers agreed to contribute to a cookbook. Despite her reputation for “fat-shaming” — ridiculing female celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Adele for their zaftig physiques — Rivers apparently liked food as much as the next person.
The book, “Eating Delancey: A Celebration of Jewish Food,” is set to be published in December by powerHouse Books. Its introduction will feature snippets from a conversation Rivers had in April with the publisher’s press liaison Abbe Aronson, also a contributor to the book.
“The more we chatted about Jewish food, the more animated and nostalgic she became,” Aronson told the AP, “telling us stories about the food she enjoyed growing up and what dishes she craved as an adult, the few times she would actually indulge in such rich food. What was absolutely clear as well was the fact that she was enjoying recounting these stories as a way to keep these memories alive, for not only herself but for her family.”
Of course, it’s not a conversation with Joan Rivers without a few jokes. And the book’s introduction will feature some vintage Rivers riffs:
“What does a Jewish woman make for dinner? Reservations.”
“You know how they butcher kosher meat, right? The cows aren’t slaughtered. They’re nagged to death.”
Rivers’ introduction to Jewish food came not through her mother (“a very chic woman … a great hostess, and a horrible cook”), but her father, a doctor in Brooklyn whose patients sometimes exchanged food for medical services.
“Obviously, most patients paid him, but some could not afford to, and so they’d bring food,” she explained. “We got soups, blintzes … you name it. Stuffed derma was a big one for fixing a burst appendix. Oh my God, the food … it was just terrific and this is how I grew up — eating such food cooked with love and delivered by infirm and dying patients.”
Rivers reminisced about all her childhood favorites — kasha varnishkes, eggele and gribenes — and constructed a menu for her ideal last meal, starting with “a good piece of gefilte fish with some fantastic freshly grated horseradish on it.”
Sadly, she did not get that last meal. But let’s hope she at least grabbed a good bagel before going in for her ill-fated surgery.