Meeting Cookbook Authors at the Boston Book Festival
Posted Oct 25 2009 11:05pm
The weather in Boston yesterday was wet and blustery so it made for the perfect day for indoor fun. Coincidentally it happened to also be the day of the first Boston Book Festival. Being a nerd, this festival immediately appeal to me. The day featured over 30 events all focused around writing, books, and communication. I managed to make it to three of the day’s events: an interview of John Hodgman by Tom Perrotta, a panel discussion entitled ‘The Examined Life,’ which focused on memoir writing, and the third, and my favorite of the day a discussion of food writing titled ‘Eat Your Words.’
‘Eat Your Words’ was moderated by Corby Kummer (above left), Senior Editor and food writer for The Atlantic Monthly. The featured guests included Sheryl Julian (above right), Food Editor for The Boston Globe and editor of The New Boston Globe Cookbook and Barbara Lynch (above middle), a James Beard Award winner and chef-owner of an assortment of lauded Boston establishments like No. 9 Park and my personal favorite, Drink. She also recently wrote the cookbook Stir so it was interesting to talk about her experiences going from being an established chef to a first time cookbook writer. The three shared a lot of interesting nuggets from the trials and tribulations of writing a cookbook to how to get good food on the table when life conspires to get in the way. Kummer talked about the difficulty of writing about food when there are so few words available to capture what something really tastes and smells like. He mentioned his career long goal to never use the word delicious in his writing, which served as a reminder that I must always find the most dynamic ways of bringing my food to life through photos and words. As someone who aspires to work more intimately with food it was interesting to hear their perspectives. One of the things Lynch mentioned was that when she was writing her cookbook she had to consciously think not about what she would like to make but what she thought her readers would like to make. It made me think of food bloggers and whether we pick dishes and recipes we think will be a hit among out readers, or whether we cook purely for ourselves and hope the interest will follow.
For those of you who are bloggers, would you say you pick recipes and dishes to feature based on what you think your readers will like or do you cook for yourself and hope that the interest will follow?