Sitting on the plane bound for Seattle from NYC has me reflecting on the actual mechanics of writing a cookbook, and how satisfying it is when the time finally comes to share it. The process is a long one. I’m not sure folks realize what it really takes to make a heartfelt, workable cookbook. The cooking is the fun part. So is the writing (most of the time). If you’re lucky–like I’ve been– with my publisher Artisan Books, and their best-in-class editors, art director, copy editor, production manager, and publicists, then everyone is working to the highest caliber. That means, questions, revisions, more questions, revisions, revisits, retesting, and so on. So when the day finally comes that you get that first copy of the book in your hands, you just pray that it worked out, because there are so many steps along the way that can go wrong. Thankfully, everything went right with this one. Should any errors arise at this point, then the responsibility is solely on me, which brings me to another point.
After I’ve held, and sniffed, and cradled the new baby (yes, each book is sort like a child), then I begin cooking directly from the book, again. Recipe by recipe I try to follow the exact instructions as written, even though I already have cooked most recipes multiple times. And it is always a relief when everything works as written (so far I’ve completed about ten, all of which have passed the test). Inevitably there are things I want to add or change. I mean how weird is that–no sooner does it get set in print, that you want to make it better? Maybe not better, but you want to be that little voice in a cook’s head that guides them through all those little things that aren’t written in the recipe. And yes, even after all the eyes that have read and reread you find mistakes!
So back to the tour. Seattle is my first stop, at Book Larder (a favorite independent cookbook store), then tomorrow 21 Acres, an extraordinary center for sustainable agricultural education. Then on to San Francisco where Celia and her (and my) beloved Omnivore Books is a reason alone to visit San Francisco (and there are many). I feel so privileged for the chance to get out and meet the folks who support the book, to cook for you and hopefully chatter away enough to leave behind a little tip or piece of wisdom NOT written in the recipe. Cooks love to cook, and share the food with others in order to make them happy and content. Tonight I make Shepherd’s Pie (recipe and really good photo in the new book), with a little trick I learned from Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Truth: you find inspiration in the most unlikely places!