From VIP entrances in Versace to service entrances in my apron

Out Of Africa

March 13, 2013

…my passage back into the land of the living


“The Ava Gardner pic” by Peter Beard


In 1984 I flew back to LA for a few castings at my new agent’s request. I no sooner checked into the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, when my friend Angelo Di Biase called. “Jewels, go knock on the door three doors down from you, room 537. Peter Beard is staying there. Tell him you are a friend of mine, and that you want him to do some test shots for your portfolio.”


“I can’t do that Ang… it’s PETER BEARD!” Even being a novice model, I knew exactly who Peter Beard was… the phenomenal wild life photographer, who also did fabulously avante guard fashion spreads for top magazines around the world, he discovered Iman, and happened to be married to one of my idols, Cheryl Teiggs, at the time. I was way too shy to impose.


Ten minutes later the phone rang again. “Hey J.A., I’m P.B. Angelo tells me that I have to do some pictures with you. He’s on his way over to do your hair and make-up.” There are so many more hysterical stories to tell about that evening, and about two of my most treasured friendships, but not enough room in a blog.



Peter, Zara, and Nejma Beard inserted into the inside cover of his book The End of The Game that he gave to me on my 30th birthday. The inscription reads “… by hand, to the one and only Julie-Ann; with heartfelt greetings and birthday wishes on March 9th, 1989 chez Canal Bar. Many happy returns of the day xxxxxx from the compiler, P.B. and Nej, & Zara


Six months later, “P.B.” offered Nick and me Hog Ranch (his ranch just outside Nairobi) for our honeymoon. Spoilt 5 star hotel children that we were at the time, we foolishly turned down Peter’s generous offer when he mentioned there was no house… just tents. Not long after Nick and I returned from Greece I had dinner with Lauren Hutton who set me straight “screw 5 star hotels! P.B.’s tents are TEN star tents with Picasso’s hanging from the sides and dinner served silver service while violins serenade you as you eat!” Then she described the majesty of the African bush while I hung on her every word. The animation in her face drew me in as her enthusiasm piqued my curiosity and desire to explore Kenya for myself.


That curiosity became an obsession when I was ill years later. I was in complete denial about my spiraling out of control auto-immune system, and determined to go on safari until my travel agent clipped my wings, and said “I can’t in good conscience let you go.” She refunded my money, so I put the money into some investments which grew over time. Devastated that my failing health had caused me to let Tatjana down, I was determined to make good on my promise that we would go eventually.


Tatjana & Julie Anne Rhodes in the African bush


Fast forward 20 years from that day at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. “Mom, there is something outside my side of the tent and it sounds REALLY big!”


To be continued:



Eggplant and Pepper Curry


Servings: 4




1 1/2 pound of eggplant, chopped into 1 inch cubes
3 green peppers, seeded and cut into slices
2 medium onions, chopped
1 fresh Serrano chile, finely chopped
4 tablespoons of peanut oil

2 tablespoons of curry

1 tablespoon of garam masala

1 tablespoon of tomato puree

2 tablespoons lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

coriander seeds for garnish, chopped




1). Heat the peanut oil on a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions in the oil until softened, 8 minutes.


2). Add the eggplant, green peppers, chiles, and curry, cook for 10 minutes.


3). Stir in the garam masala, tomato puree, salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water if necessary, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.


4). Meanwhile toast the coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 1 minute, giving a good stir once or twice. Remove from pan and chop. Reserve for garnish.


5). Add lemon juice to the eggplant curry, stir, and garnish with chopped coriander seeds.


Servings Suggestions:  Serve over rice.

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