During one of the bleakest periods of the pandemic, when loneliness was like an anchor tied to my spirit, I started a project. I read an important cookbook in my collection — from the front matter through the acknowledgements. In the prison of imposed quiet, I watched the writer's hand, discovering their quirks and imperfections. I began collecting small phrases — expressions of personality — in a 25-page document. I have a few ideas for it.
I'm looking at my food and cookbooks in new ways, as objects of a writer's artistic practice and a record of career development. And I'm going to start writing about them here.
In 2013/14, a few pieces I wrote while at the Humber School for Writers were about cookbook collectors. A well-known Toronto food writer opened their home and library to me as a student. A generous gesture.
If I'm in a room with a cook and their collection, I find the latter distracting.
I began collecting in the mid to late 80s. My library is a culinary fingerprint.
I'm starting with that pile. There are some stories in it. I had lunch with one of those writers. There's a book there I gift as often as I can. I have a big beef with the research in one of those books. Some of them are out of print.
If it inspires you to buy, please support local cookbook and used bookstores. Remember going out of the house to get books? Being in a shop with people all leisurely like. Spending an hour in the afternoon in Nicholas Hoare on Front Street in Toronto (I miss that bookstore). I still have a few of their bookmarks.
There's something else. A friend is art directing. It was a spontaneous offer made in the last couple of weeks. I'm grateful to focus on the writing and am excited about the collaboration.
I'm working on the first essay. It's up May 6.
This week one of the good people in my life showed up wearing a Def Leppard t-shirt. My kind of woman. Pure fire.
Everything But The Girl is back. Tracey Thorn's black coffee voice. The second song makes me long for a dark, crowded nightclub.
March 14, 2023
February 22, 2023
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