Wordstock – Portland

OK, for months, I’ve been meaning to write to Michael Ruhlman to thank him for the gracious blurb on my book. (The marketing department at Viking was thrilled by his comment “…it’s Under the Tuscan Sun goes to cooking school..”) Then, within a few days, we hit some weird cosmic junction. When I was in St. Louis, he was there promoting his new book, the excellent Elements of Cooking. (More on his book in a later post.) Then, a couple days later, we were on a panel together in Portland at the book fest, Wordstock. Before I knew about the panel, I’d booked seats at a Cooks and Books dinner in his honor at Serafina here in Seattle.
Also on the panel was Nicole Mones, the author of several novels, the most recent The Last Chinese Chef. She’s deeply articulate – to the extent I watched her talk and thought, “um, I can’t compete with that…” I can’t wait to read her book. Moderating the whole shebang was Martha Holmberg, food editor at the Orgeonian (with me on the right). Our conversation wandered a few places, from what food writing means to us, and what going through formal culinary training meant to Michael and I. His answer was what I’d sum up as the most valuable – that in school, you might learn techniques but what you truly learn is discipline. (As a result of that lesson, he wrote The Making of a Chef in four months – probably the most inspirational comment on the day… it took me nine months to write Sharper but that was after seven months of working on the proposal.)
A couple of people blogged about the panel. One of them, over at Macerating Shallots (thanks for the panel photo) bemoaned the fact the panels weren’t taped. I was disappointed too. My husband videotaped it, and if we can salvage any of it, we’ll get it online.
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