Seattle Bookstore: Book Larder

The other store I stopped in at in Seattle was Book Larder: A Community Cookbook Store, which I’d also love to do an event at for Feast. Look at this awesome space! I could teach a real Sri Lankan cooking class here. It’s so charming. I wanted to buy ALL the books, but restrained myself. Also ALL the dishtowels. Kevin asked me recently if I really needed so many dishtowels. Yes. Yes I do. Hush, love.

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Seattle, Elliott Bay Book Company

Seattle, Elliott Bay Book Company. I went by to drop off a copy of A Feast of Serendib, to ask whether they might want to do an event there if I came back. First of all, their cookbook section is very impressive — Seattle people must like to cook! (Long, dark winters…) And check out the big dedicated section on SE Asian cooking; that tells you where you should try eating out when you’re in town. 

But the funniest bit was that way back in 1997, twenty-two years ago, I did a reading here when I was a student at Clarion West. And amazingly, the programming guy, Rick, actually remembered me from back then! How cool is that? (What I would give for a memory that worked that well…)

Rick’s even going to Sri Lanka in a few weeks, and we had a great conversation about his travels there, and about other Sri Lankan American authors he likes, and it was just very cool. I hope I can manage to fit in a Seattle trip for the book launch this year!

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Looking for a food writing class

A friend is looking for a food writing class, like the one I took with Pooja Makhijani at Catapult. Suggestions? She’d love one in Chicago, but since that seems unlikely, online? Or a local workshop of people who are working on food writing, perhaps? If the latter, in the Oak Park area would be ideal for her.

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New food books

In case it’s of interest, I had a gift certificate for $200 in books, and I decided to go all in on food memoir-ish stuff. This is what I’ve ordered:

The Language of Baklava, Diana Abu Jaber
A Cook’s Tour, Anthony Bourdain
My Life in France, Julia Child
Home Cooking, Laurie Colwin
How to Cook a Wolf, MFK Fisher
Grape, Olive, Pig, Matt Goulding
Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton
A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle
The Apprentice, Jacques Pepin
Tender at the Bone, Ruch Reichl
The Making of a Chef, Mark Ruhlman
Yes, Chef, Macus Samuelsson
Domesticity, Bob Shacochis
Toast, Nigel Slater
Give a Girl a Knife, Amy Thielen
Rhapsody in Schmaltz, Michael Wex

I imagine some reviews will be coming along at some point…

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Let’s see if I can identify these meal photos

You know I’ve been too busy when I get months behind on posting photos from my phone. Let’s see if I can identify these meals:

a) I made a salad with roasted brussels sprouts — I remember that it was tasty, but don’t remember the occasion!

b) This was dinner in Greektown with George R.R. Martin and one of his fabulous assistants when he was in town — yumyum. (And did I feel very cool? Yes, yes I did.)

 

c) I think this was a poached egg in a salad with…oh, now I can’t remember. Maybe Amanda or Nara or Roshani or Kavi? Definitely at Léa up the street, I think. Good! I’m not sure if I’ve had a poached egg in a salad before; I approve.

d) Experimenting with painting edible gold dust on chocolate cookies pressed out with a fancy die-cut roller. Dust = good. Roller = good. Cookies = meh; at some point, I’d like to develop a cookie recipe I’m happier with for this kind of application. Something with a little zing to it.  Chocolate-cayenne, perhaps? Or abandon the chocolate and go for a classic lemon sugar cookie…maybe we’ll experiment for Valentine’s Day. What are V-day flavors to you, aside from chocolate? Hmm…I’m thinking passionfruit cookies are worth experimenting with!

e) This is the one that really makes my mouth water. Stringhoppers and curries. Nothing better! I can’t remember who I was eating this with, but I must have liked them a lot if I pulled out the string hoppers….

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“When you are pursuing a dream, you will find the time.”

I’ve started reading this book, and while some of it isn’t so relevant to me (geared towards professional food photographers or those who would like to become them, so talking about apertures and the like), some of it is. I’d like to take better photos for you all.

And the intro was actually just rather lovely, esp. the last paragraph, and applicable to writing and many other arts / career passions:

“I tell you this not to boast about my own success, but because I am aware that many of you are looking to reinvent yourselves, and understanding that it’s possible matters. I know there never seems to be enough time in the day, but when you are pursuing a dream, you will find the time. It will not feel like work.”

#serendibkitchen

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A Feast of Serendib print run copies have arrived!

Here’s a little Feast milestone — we’ve sent out all the Kickstarter edition copies we’d ordered. Eep! In theory, I could still buy more from IngramSpark as POD, but I’m hoping to never do that again, as they cost $20 each to print, which means I don’t even really break even on those, once you take into account all the original development costs, much less bookstore discounts (generally 40%), etc.

Instead, the overseas print run has finally come in (more like $10 each to print), and I’ve had about a hundred shipped to my house, with 1900 more safe in a warehouse in Kentucky or somewhere like that. So we may actually start seeing profits? If people buy them? If not, um, well I suppose I’ll have 2000 copies at $10 each to use to keep me warm at night. I’ll build myself a book igloo, perhaps…

It was very exciting and also nerve-wracking opening them. What if the printing had gotten messed up??? But at least this first copy looks fine; I think the paper is slightly brighter than the IngramSpark paper, which is just fine. They look almost identical, though. Hopefully people will love, love, love this book.

#serendibkitchen

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Finding the right help

It’s been an evolution, figuring out how to do at least three different jobs (professor, indie publisher, nonprofit arts director) as one person. Part of that was realizing I needed help, and then it turned out that it took me quite a while to find the right *kind* of help. I think I’m making good progress on that, though, with six (!) part-time people. Some put in 1-2 hrs / week, some put in more like 10, depending on the job. Somehow, it’s all working. (It’s not quite paying for itself yet, but it’s getting there, I think. An investment in the future.)

Heather Rainwater Campbell is remotely working for me from Michigan, doing my social media work, and also some of the Feast production & PR work that can be done remotely. Irene Victoria is doing PR work as well, from New York, primarily for the SLF, but a bit for me as well.

Last night, I took out three of my local team for what was supposed to be an end-of-year thank you — wish I could’ve flown out the remote people too! — which had slipped over into a start of the new year thing, because we’re all just that busy, and our schedules are complicated. All three of the locals are moms, and y’know, holidays can get a little hectic for moms. Just a touch.

Our fourth local, Kirsten Jackson, couldn’t make it, but we’ll get her next time. She’s our hardy financial person, and has relieved so much financial anxiety for me, I can’t even tell you. She makes sure everyone gets paid on time, and the taxes too. 

But Cee Gee (who does development work for the SLF, working on grants and our fund drive) managed to make it, along with Karen Murphy (our managing director at the SLF, helping to keep the schedules and files and volunteers organized), and Stephanie Bailey (who basically organizes me).

We went to Flourish Oak Park, which I haven’t tried before, and it’s really a fun concept for co-working space + cocktail bar (they have a cool mechanism that allows you to sample lots of different beers and such, which is very appealing for a taster like me). And we were lucky enough to be there when pig & fire were doing a Filipino pop-up event, so in addition to the cheese platter and sweets from Flourish, we got to sample more of their yummy Filipino food. Lumpia, YUM. (Their next pop-up will be at Kinslahger 1/25, 5:30 – 8:30! Details on their FB page…)

Thank you all, peeps, for keeping me mostly sane last fall. Looking forward to much brilliant work and fun times in the new year.

(And Kel Bachus, thanks again for telling me at WisCon last year that I needed a tribe to work with me and take care of me. You were absolutely right.)

#serendibkitchen
#serendibwriting

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Food photos using robots, by Nathan Myhvold

I walked by this gallery and had to go in — Nathan Myhrvold takes food photos using robots (among many other things he does — he seems like something of a polymath). The photos are striking and also often fun.

I did actually pick up a ‘how to photograph food’ book at the Book Larder: A Community Cookbook Store yesterday, but I will not be using robots, just so you know. 

#serendibkitchen

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Tentatively planning a Toronto visit with SJ Sindu

[Note: Toronto visit question following at the end of this.] A highlight of the con was getting to spend a little more time with SJ Sindu, brilliant young Sri Lankan novelist, now a professor at University of Toronto, and they are lucky to have her. I loved her _Marriage of a Thousand Lies_, and you will too — just look at all the accolades it’s gotten!

• Publishing Triangle Award Winner
• Golden Crown Literary Society Award Winner
• American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book
• Lambda Literary Award Finalist
• Independent Publisher Award Silver Medal
• VCU First Novelist Award Finalist
• Longlist for DSC South Asian Literature Prize

I mean wow! And she’s so young too!  V. impressive, thangachi! Exciting to hear that University of Toronto is starting a Tamil Studies program too; looking forward to learning more about that. (Navaratnasingam, you may be interested!)

I’m really hoping we can get together in Toronto sometime in the next year — I was planning to go there at some point for book tour (esp. since I have fabulous cousins in Canada, Loudes Tania and Michele Jayakumar and Rozanne Arulanandam), so it’s mostly a matter of picking dates.

One complicating factor — I’d planned to go out this year, since the book launches in March 2020. But MLA is actually going to be in Toronto next year, so there’s an argument to be made for trying to do something in conjunction with MLA, which wouldn’t be until January 2021?

It’s tempting to say ‘do both!’ of course, but Kevin and I just had the first of a series of serious conversations of how we’re going to manage all our work travel and still be present for each other and for the kids this coming year, so just flitting off constantly on international trips, even if we can find the funds, probably isn’t the wisest move.

So here’s the question — when should I go to Toronto? Which is mostly about what other South Asian / Sri Lankan / science fiction events are happening there in the next year?

It’ll generally work much better if I can pair it with that kind of thing, so I can do joint events with other writers, helping to draw bigger crowds for all of us, and also making it more interesting and fun overall. I don’t just want to be talking about me and the cookbook all the time! 

Also, are there literary venues I should be reaching out to, who might want me to do a reading there? Professors teaching classes who might want me to come as a guest? Etc. and so on. And if any of these opportunities come with a little funding help, even better, though that’s not necessarily a requirement.

Help me brainstorm, Toronto peoples? (Or those knowledgeable in the ways of literary Toronto…)

#serendibkitchen
#serendibwriting
#serendibtravel

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