We may live without poetry, music and art; We may live without conscience, and live without heart We may live without friends; we may live without books; But civilized man cannot live without cooks.

By Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1831-1891

THROWING RICE AT NEWLYWEDS is easier to do when guests know they can find boxes of Uncle Ben's in the next aisle. But that traditional gesture might have been lost at the May wedding of Rodney Parks and Debra Person, who had such a sentimental attachment to their local supermarket that they were married in it.

Parks was buying flowers in a Kroger supermarket in Dayton, Ohio, when he met Person and asked her for a date. The relationship blossomed, and less than a year later the bride, dressed in a floor-length white dress with a train, found herself bringing up the rear in a bridal procession past the cases of refrigerated chickens and down the produce aisle.

"We did it right for them," said co-manager Charlie Moore of the exchange of vows in the market's floral department. "We went to the lumber store and built a stand with lattice work and painted it. Once you got to where the preacher was, it lost a lot of the grocery store image," he insisted.

Kroger's was open for business during the ceremony, and store managers graciously cordoned off four of the store's 11 check-out lanes for the event. "The wedding guests were dressed up like they were attending a regular church wedding," said Moore. "They were decked out." The astonished customers were less circumspect, however, and succumbed to "oohing and aahing and snickering," he said.

After the nuptials, the happy couple proceeded to a limousine waiting outside and shared a champagne toast. There was no room for a reception in the store.

TO DO: Friday through Saturday, Aug. 25, Montgomery County Agricultural Fair; 17th through the 19th, preliminary fair events with carnival and entertainment; fair officially begins the 20th, with food for sale, animal judgings, crafts, 4-H activities, music and evening events such as a tractor pull and demolition derby, special days for seniors and children. Call for preliminary fair hours; Monday through Saturday, hours 8 a.m.-midnight. $4 adults; children 12 and under, free. $2 parking. 16 Chestnut St., Gaithersburg. Call 926-3100 for information.

IT WAS TOUGH LUCK for tomatoes last week when state health department officials from four Midwestern states announced that more than 100 people had contracted an unusual type of salmonella, possibly from raw tomatoes. Although the Food and Drug Administration has not confirmed the reports -- and the states are still working to pin down the source of the outbreak -- investigators are hypothesizing that the tomatoes may have been fertilized with manure that contained the salmonella bacteria. The Illinois Department of Public Health is reminding consumers to follow safe handling practices, regardless:

Thoroughly wash tomatoes before preparing and serving. A quick water rinse is not adequate.

Prior to serving, cut away the stem end and any bruised or damaged areas, where bacteria could creep in.

Refrigerate tomatoes after slicing or cutting until serving.


(6 servings)

Fresh green beans are delicious steamed and turned into a zesty side dish. Serve the beans with grilled lamb or chicken, or as part of an alfresco supper.

1 1/2 pounds slender green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

6 tablespoons safflower oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 dozen oil-cured black olives

Steam the green beans until tender, 6 to 7 minutes, depending on size. Refresh the green beans under cold water; drain well and dry. (The beans may be prepared up to this point, rolled in paper toweling, and refrigerated for up to 8 hours.) Whisk together the vinegar, oregano and oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Add the green beans and onions; toss well. Pile the green beans on a small platter, sprinkle over the feta cheese, and dot with the olives. Per serving: 206 calories, 4 gm protein, 12 gm carbohydrates, 17 gm fat, 3 gm saturated fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 149 mg sodium.

Lisa Yockelson



(4 servings)

One of summer's most beautiful sights is that of a golden ear of corn on the dinner plate, sweetly steaming with a dribble of pale butter and a sprinkle of salt crystals. But this versatile vegetable is good served any way, as in this recipe from the new "James McNair's Corn Cookbook" (Chronicle Books $19.95).

Pizza dough, homemade or store-bought

Vegetable oil for brushing pan, about 1 tablespoon

About 1/4 cup olive oil, or to taste

2 cups (about 8 ounces) mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 cup (about 4 ounces) smoked mozzarella or smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

8 medium-sized ears fresh corn, or 4 cups frozen corn, thawed

2 tablespoons garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chopped red onion

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

Whole or minced chives for garnish

Roll out pizza dough and place on a greased pizza pan. Brush the top of the dough with most of the olive oil, reserving some, then top with the cheeses, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Scrape the corn from the cob if using fresh corn and spread the corn over the cheese, then sprinkle with garlic, onion, salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the reserved olive oil over everything.

Bake the pizza for 10 to 15 minutes at 500 degrees, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven to a cutting board and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and chives on top. Slice into sections and serve immediately.

Per serving: 785 calories, 32 gm protein, 77 gm carbohydrates, 42 gm fat, 16 gm saturated fat, 77 mg cholesterol, 850 mg sodium.

SUMMER TRAVELERS heading up I-95 should be alerted to the Chesapeake Farmer's Market, an unusual respite from the fast food rest stops on the route north. Sponsored by the state of Maryland, the small barn-like building holds an array of food products made or packaged in Maryland:

Tea from the Eastern Shore Tea Co.; coffee from Pfefferkorn's Coffee Inc., of Baltimore; seafood spices, seasonings and soups from Wye River and Phillip's; Hunt Cup Mustard from Riderwood; McCutcheon's jams, jellies and juices including Sparkling Muscadine Apple Juice; Dorthea's Breads from Baltimore; Swan Valley Chutney from Owings Mills; Smith's Mountain Farm apple syrup from Flintstone; honey from Ann Harman of Laytonsville, plus a wide variety of locally grown fresh produce.

Midway between Washington and Philadelphia, the farm market is adjacent to a Burger King and is accessible to northbound or southbound traffic. It's at the Chesapeake House rest stop; you can't miss the sign on the highway.