Born in West Southport, Maine in 1924, Clara Wilma Marr was raised in a community of fishermen; her father was a fisherman and her uncles and other relatives were lobstermen. Her fondest food memory was going to the frequent “lobster bakes” sponsored by her father and other families and friends. These feasts included lobster, clams, fish (cooked in seaweed), corn on the cob and other food favorites.
From the age of 12, Clara worked on and off for a well-to-do family, first as a summer job and then more regularly as she got into high school. She helped with dishes and cleaning, but eventually got to help with dinner parties, serving refined foods at elegantly set tables. These dinner parties gave Clara the basic skills for entertaining, which later served her well as an officer’s wife for 30 years.
While in high school, Clara met Warren MacQuarrie, and in 1942 they were married. He was a new naval aviation cadet in flight training, so they only got brief visits their first years of marriage. They had 5 children over a span of 20 years, each born in a different place — from Maine to Hawaii — thanks to Warren’s military service. They now also have 8 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.
As the wife of a Marine Corps pilot in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, Clara had to adapt quickly to new homes in new locations (they’ve moved 32 times!). Hosting dinner parties became her expertise and a way to make new friends. Others reciprocated and the exchange of exceptional recipes began. Clara settled into her role of family/friend/entertainer, and for those who lived closest there was no doubt that an invitation to the “Mac’s” meant an invitation to a delightful spread with multiple dishes.
Clara’s reputation was well known by all who had the pleasure of being on her invite list. In 2000, Clara and Warren fully retired and moved to a community with a dinner club so they could indulge in fine meals more as guests, rather than as hosts. On Christmas 2005, her daughter Nancy released the first “Clara’s Cookbook” for all to read on a day Clara spent mostly in the kitchen.
Nancy and her family took Clara to Mother’s Bistro & Bar for her first time on Valentine’s Day this year. Clara took such delight in what we do, Nancy couldn’t resist nominating her for the M.O.M.
And since we couldn’t resist offering her menu, here it is!
a creamy, cheesy dip with fresh sautéed spinach, onions, artichokes, monterey jack and parmesan cheese, served with crostini
pasta tossed with bacon, parmigiana reggiano, pecorino romano & eggs
pounded chicken breasts sautéed with capers, lemon, white wine & butter, served with a side of linguine tossed with garlic & olive oil
prawns marinated in tequila, cilantro & jalapenos, served with a chimichurri sauce (with onions, jalapenos, lemon, parsley & olive oil ) & roasted poblano pepper, corn & cotija cheese risotto
Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake
in a chocolate cookie crust, topped a chocolate glaze, served with chocolate sauce