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The Barefoot Contessa. We never quite knew what it meant, but it always sounded right for Ina Garten's popular Food Network show. So why did Ina Garten settle on this moniker for her television show and line of cookbooks? The name actually dates back to her Hamptons' specialty food store, which she bought in 1978 despite having no experience in the food business. So how did she settle on this name for her beach town biz?
Garten shares the backstory in a 2018 blog post on her website introducing a smoked salmon deviled eggs recipe. "So many people ask, 'What does Barefoot Contessa mean?' It was the original name of my specialty food store after a movie with Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart," she writes, adding that for her "it means being both elegant and earthy," two personas which we think Garten has perfected. Clearly, the name was a hit and it carried with her onto TV and cookbooks as she grew her food empire.
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As for Humprey and Ava, 1950s film buffs may be eager to check out The Barefoot Contessa movie, which you can stream on Tubi TV for free here with a description as follows: "The Cinderella story of how a waning director (Humphrey Bogart) revives his career after discovering a beautiful Spanish dancer (Ava Gardner) and making her into a Hollywood star." Certainly sounds like a different plot than Garten's tutorials for potato salads and mocha chocolate icebox cakes.
Speaking of chocolate icebox cakes, with the temperatures rising and June fast approaching, we think now is an excellent time to prepare one of these sweet treats. Or for Memorial Day Weekend, you might want to make Garten's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. Or a Mixed Berry Pavlova? The possibilities are endless when you've got the Shoeless Countess — alas, we tried, but it doesn't have the same ring to it — Barefoot Contessa, in your corner.