Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A HOMEMADE LIFE: AUTHOR INTERVIEW, REVIEW, AND GIVEAWAY

A HOMEMADE LIFE
BY MOLLY WIZENBERG

ABOUT THE BOOK:

When Molly Wizenberg's father died of cancer, everyone told her to go easy on herself, to hold off on making any major decisions for a while. But when she tried going back to her apartment in Seattle and returning to graduate school, she knew it wasn't possible to resume life as though nothing had happened. So she went to Paris, a city that held vivid memories of a childhood trip with her father, of early morning walks on the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter and the taste of her first pain au chocolat. She was supposed to be doing research for her dissertation, but more often, she found herself peering through the windows of chocolate shops, trekking across town to try a new pâtisserie, or tasting cheeses at outdoor markets, until one evening when she sat in the Luxembourg Gardens reading cookbooks until it was too dark to see, she realized that her heart was not in her studies but in the kitchen.

At first, it wasn't clear where this epiphany might lead. Like her long letters home describing the details of every meal and market, Molly's blog Orangette started out merely as a pleasant pastime. But it wasn't long before her writing and recipes developed an international following. Every week, devoted readers logged on to find out what Molly was cooking, eating, reading, and thinking, and it seemed she had finally found her passion. But the story wasn't over: one reader in particular, a curly-haired, food-loving composer from New York, found himself enchanted by the redhead in Seattle, and their email correspondence blossomed into a long-distance romance.

In A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, Molly Wizenberg recounts a life with the kitchen at its center. From her mother's pound cake, a staple of summer picnics during her childhood in Oklahoma, to the eggs she cooked for her father during the weeks before his death, food and memories are intimately entwined. You won't be able to decide whether to curl up and sink into the story or to head straight to the market to fill your basket with ingredients for Cider-Glazed Salmon and Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Molly Wizenberg is a freelance food writer and the creator of the award-winning blog Orangette. She is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, and her writing has been featured on NPR.org and PBS.org and has been praised in The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and The Seattle Times. Wizenberg has degrees in human biology, French, and cultural anthropology, but in 2005, she left the world of academia to write full-time.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW:

1. Welcome, Molly Wizenberg, to BOOKIN’ WITH BINGO and thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for my readers. Can you first tell us a little about your background and biography?

Here’s my basic bio:

Molly Wizenberg writes the monthly column "Cooking Life" in Bon Appetit magazine, and her first book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, was a New York Times bestseller. She is the voice behind Orangette (www.orangette.net), named the best food blog in the world by the London Times. She lives in Seattle, where, with her husband Brandon Pettit, she owns the restaurant Delancey.

In addition to that, I also co-host (along with food writer Matthew Amster-Burton) a food podcast called Spilled Milk: www.spilledmilkpodcast.com.

2. Where did you get the inspiration or idea for this book?

This book grew out of Orangette, my blog. I’ve written a lot there about my family and where I come from, but there were a lot of stories that didn’t really fit within the narrow confines of a blog post. They seemed better suited for something bigger and roomier, like a book. So I wrote one! And I was lucky enough to see it published. It’s a food memoir (with 50 recipes), and it’s about growing up in a family of avid home cooks, losing my father when I was in my early twenties, and the journey – though I hate that word; it sounds like it should come with its own soundtrack of new-age music – that his death set me on, toward making a life for myself in food, and toward meeting my husband.

I’ve heard some people call it a coming-of-age story, and some people call it a love story, but to me, it’s also very much a book about losing my dad. I needed to write about him to make sure that I would remember him, all the details that made him who he was. And I also needed to write about him so that I could start to let go of, and to forget, some of the harder moments around his death. I didn’t know it until I was deep in the process, but I still had a lot of grieving to do, and writing helped me do it.

3. How did the title of your book come about?

I think there’s a real return to home cooking going on right now, and an interest in the homemade and the handmade. I see this all over, and in my own life. It’s very much reflected in how I look at food, and it’s how I was raised. My parents like fancy stuff and fine dining as much as the next person, but home cooking has always been the center of our lives. So it made sense, in many ways, to call my book A Homemade Life. I don’t totally love it as a title, to be deadly honest – it reads a little cheesy to me – but it feels right.

4. Do you see yourself in your characters? Which characters are easiest or more difficult to write?

[It’s a memoir, so I am one of the characters! Yep.]

5. What books would you say have made the biggest impression on you, especially starting out? What are you currently reading?

It’s hard to narrow it down, but M. F. K. Fisher – particularly The Gastronomical Me – has been a big influence on me, especially in the beginning, when I was first starting to think about writing about food. She’s the mother of it all. I also read Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, and Edna Lewis, and I love Calvin Trillin’s style. He has a stunning eye for detail, and his sense of humor is spot-on.

Food writing aside, I’ve also loved Michael Chabon’s novels, particularly his first, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. He’s a tremendous storyteller. I also have a soft spot for Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers. I love it when I come across a narrator who feels like a real friend, someone I miss when the book is over.

Most recently, I’ve been reading a memoir called Cheerful Money, by Tad Friend. He’s a beautiful writer – insightful, thorough, and wickedly funny – and I envy his command of language. (The man is a genius with adjectives and descriptions.) And I’m about to start reading Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson, which a couple of friends have recommended.

6. What is the next or current book/project you are working on?

My husband and I opened a restaurant in Seattle last August, so that’s been a big project, to say the least! It’s called Delancey (www.delanceyseattle.com), and it’s a wood-fired pizzeria, a nod to the great pies that my husband fell in love with when he lived in New York and went to graduate school in Brooklyn. He’s the chef, and though I worked in the kitchen for the first few months that we were open, I now spend most of my time behind the scenes. I’m the chief janitor, baseboard scrubber, light fixture cleaner, wine glass polisher, and payroll doer. I’m also starting work on a second book, most likely about the restaurant.

7. What is your best advice to anyone, including young people, who want to be writers?

Write about what you care about. Write what you want to read. If you work hard, and if you write honestly and thoughtfully about the things that move you, someone is bound to want to read it.

MY REVIEW:

A HOMEMADE LIFE-STORIES AND RECIPES FROM MY KITCHEN TABLE, a personal memoir, comes from Molly Wizenberg as she writes about her family and how food was always the center their lives seemed to revolve around. In each chapter, as she recounts her life, she tells stories about her family and herself and they all seem to wind up somehow back to some kind of food. Whether it is about a family gathering and what food they served, or a place they visited and something they ate while there, food shows up as a character in her memoir. With each story and chapter, comes a recipe or two described in a way that even I can follow. I found myself wishing I had all the ingredients on hand so many times so I could rush into my kitchen and try it right away. Her father’s French toast, which I did make, is my favorite, so far.

Of course, A HOMEMADE LIFE isn’t one of THE BEST BOOKS I have enjoyed in a long time JUST because of the food. It is a beautifully written, touching story of Molly’s life and her special relationship with her family and her father in particular. The recipes she gives the reader are integral parts of the stories she tells. Whether growing up and learning to cook, or meeting and marrying her husband, or traveling to her beloved Paris, recipes and food play an integral part of making this book so personal and memorable.

Whatever You Love, You Are...Molly's ex-boyfriend was in a band and they recorded an album by that title. In her memoir, Molly writes about what that title meant to her mainly in reference to her father‘s death. Her father, Burg as he was known, died after a short battle with cancer and A HOMEMADE LIFE is dedicated to him. Molly explains how more than anyone else she knows, her father “was what he loved. …He did what he did and was what he was.” When you come right down to it, don’t we all hope we can be that way as well? Molly loves to cook with such a passion and so much of that comes from her father. She says, “I am so my father’s daughter. Whatever you love, oh yes, you are.” I think this speaks volumes and for me, who had a similar relationship with my dad before he died of cancer, I think this is one of the main reasons I loved this warm, witty, and wonderful book so very much. Thank you, Molly!

GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO BRIAN AND THE GOOD FOLKS
AT SIMON & SCHUSTER PUBLISHING,
I HAVE FIVE COPIES OF THIS WONDERFUL

BOOK TO GIVE AWAY. HERE IS WHAT
YOU NEED TO DO TO WIN A COPY!



--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!

HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FIND INTERESTING AT MOLLY WIZENBERG'S BLOG, ORANGETTE

+1 MORE ENTRY:
COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING ABOUT THIS BOOK FROM THE REVIEW ABOVE

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING ABOUT AUTHOR MOLLY WIZENBERG FROM HER INTERVIEW ABOVE OR FROM GOING TO HER AUTHOR PAGE ON SIMON & SCHUSTER HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND LEAVE A LINK I CAN FOLLOW IN THE ENTRY

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST,
APRIL 16!


GOOD LUCK

63 comments:

g.g. said...

I went to Orangette and saw that she has a column in Bon Apetite and so read a recent entry called Bar None about some oatmeal type bars she found a recipe for and it sounds devine. I copied it as it looks easy and am bookmarking her column to follow Yum!

anjamie4 AT gmail DOT com

g.g. said...

I went to the site and it shows there is a reader's guide for this book which is good as my book club uses them a lot for discussion questions

anjamie4 AT gmail DOT com

g.g. said...

I think it is nice that she seems close to her family and was nice she dedicated the book to her father


anjamie4 AT gmail DOT com

Kitty said...

I was pleased to see the rhubarb recipes. We have 3 rhubarb plants in the garden and I have run out of ideas.

rubynreba said...

At Orangette there was an interesting recipe for oatmeal pancakes. Sounded good!
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

bermudaonion said...

I found it interesting that the photos are so gorgeous at Orangette and I wonder who takes them. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

bermudaonion said...

I found it interesting that the author dedicated the book to her late father. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

bermudaonion said...

On the author page, I found it interesting that A Homemade Life is now available as an eBook. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

Benita said...

On Orangette I read about the author and rhubarb. Although I never liked rhubarb, her article made me want to go our, purchase some and try her recipes. Now that's what I call writing!

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Benita said...

I found it interesting that she is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, and her writing has been featured on NPR.org and PBS.org

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Benita said...

What I found interesting about A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, Molly Wizenberg recounts her life with the kitchen at its center. I think this is a great way to write a memoir.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

traveler said...

Orangette is filled with wonderful ideas and photos. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

Her book is unique and gives a perspective on the value of family and food and the connection. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

Her family is important and her relationship with food came from her relationship with her father. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Libby's Library said...

Oh my gosh - she has soooooo many recipes to choose from! Polenta and oatmeal pancakes. Chocolate Mousse and rhubarb!
Thanks for the giveaway.

libneas[at]aol[dot]com

Colleen Turner said...

I like the author's advice for wannabe writers in her interview. Write about what you love and know and someone will want to read it...great advice!
Thanks,
Colleen
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I found a recipe on Orangette for Chinese Noodle Salad with Roasted Eggplant...I am drooling in my office right now!
Thanks,
Colleen
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I really enjoyed your review! It made me think a lot about Julie and Julia, which I also loved. Another woman finding herself in her kitchen and blogging about it and the rest of her life.
Thanks,
Colleen
candc320@gmail.com

Margie said...

On her blog Orangette I saw that it was named after chocolate-dipped, candied orange peels. Also learned that she met her husband through the blog.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

I learned from the interview that her blog Orangette was named the best food blog in the world by the London Times. Very impressive!
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

The book shows her deep love for her father, and her passion for cooking.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Linda Kish said...

There is a good writeup and recipe for polenta.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

She loves writing on her blog and feels it is more spontaneous that writing the book. And she enjoys the comments she receives.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I want to read about her travels around Paris.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Pricilla said...

Heh - her podcast is called Spilled Milk. I find that amusing
thank you
kaiminani at gmail dot com

Pricilla said...

I tweeted
http://twitter.com/BrokenTeepee/status/11710937976
thank you
kaiminani at gmail dot com

Pricilla said...

I noted the pizza restaurant. I love pizza. Especially wood fired pizza
thank you
kaiminani at gmail dot com

Pricilla said...

I like that the book incorporates the recipes into the memoir. Food is an important part of life
thank you
kaiminani at gmail dot com

dag888888 said...

I have been a fan of Orangette for a while now! Love the blog header and of course, Molly's writing style!

dag888888[at]yahoo[dot]com

dag888888 said...

The fact that my favorite, french toast is featured in this book (from your review) makes me want to read this.

dag888888[at]yahoo[dot]com

dag888888 said...

Molly was spot on in her interview about the return to homemade and handmade. My family has taken that route as well!

dag888888[at]yahoo[dot]com

Pamela Keener said...

This book sounds awesome. My father also died of cancer after a short period of time. I would love to write a book in his memory. He was known as the salada king in our household as he always made the salad.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290@comcast.net

Pamela Keener said...

When she was little her mother used to take her to a place called Earth, a little health food store, for a snack. I discovered this on her blog Orangette
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290@comcast.net

Pamela Keener said...

Every year her mother and her go away together for a couple of days do lots of eating, drinking and catching up.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290@comcast.net

Angie said...

Orangette has cool pictures of the food. I like how there is pictures of the food from at least two different angles. They are clean and simple.

aksimmo at brainerd dot net

Angie said...

I think the jorney she takes after her father's death is interesting. Her life so totally changed after he died that it's like he led her on the path to who she is now.

aksimmo at brainerd dot net

Angie said...

I see she likes Michael Chabon as a writer. That's interesting because I had never heard of this author until I checked a book of his out from the library last week!

aksimmo at brainerd dot net

nfmgirl said...

Blogged:
http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/2010/04/book-giveaways-in-blogworld-04-03-10.html

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

I found it interesting that, according to her FAQ, she met her husband via her blog.

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

I learned that she may love chocolate mousse as much as me!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

bison61 said...

I like the recipe for Whole Wheat Apricot Scones

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Lisa R said...

twitter--alterlisa
http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/2010/04/homemade-life-author-interview-review.html

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/

Darcie K. said...

I find it interesting that she moved to Paris. This is a lifelong dream of mine.
dmkayes@gmail.com

Darcie K. said...

I learned that Orangette won an award in 2005 for being the Best Overall Food Blog
dmkayes@gmail.com

Rebecca O said...

I loved her post, "The Very Definition". I will be trying the recipe for the oatmeal pancakes this coming weekend. Her blog is now a new favorite...I subscribed. I like her writing style...descriptive, witty...and more. I look forward to reading more...which I will be doing after this!

Thanks for the chance. bekki1820cb at gmail

Anonymous said...

On orangette I found some very interesting recipe. I love her take on rhubarb.
debp
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I really like her ability to have personal experiences intertwined with food. This is exactly the kind of novel I really like.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Bonnie said...

I found on Orangette that Molly has a podcast called Spilled Milk. I'm going to check that out!

redladysreadingroomATgmailDOTcom

Bonnie said...

I found it so interesting that you described food as a character in Molly's book.

redladysreadingroomATgmailDOTcom

Bonnie said...

I found it so interesting that that this book actually was a result of her blog Orangette.

redladysreadingroomATgmailDOTcom

Marci J said...

I like that she has a reader's guide for the book.
june_spirit2628 at hotmail dot com

Marci J said...

It's interesting that her book began as an idea from her blog. Reminds me of Julie and Julia.
june_spirit2628 at hotmail dot com

Marci J said...

I love that her book includes recipes--tried and true. I love trying new ones.
june_spirit2628 at hotmail dot com

Sue said...

I love that she shared a recipe for Chocolate Mousse. Who doesn't love a good chocolate recipe? Thanks for the giveaway!

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Misusedinnocence said...

The book interested me because I left school when my Mom got sick, so I'd like to read it.

misusedinnocence@aol.com

Misusedinnocence said...

I think it's cool that she's been featured on NPR! :)

misusedinnocence@aol.com

Vera said...

She has such great photos on her blog! I especially love the one with the empty chocolate mousse cups! vvperesk@gmail.com

Vera said...

In your review, it seems that the author ties memories and experiences to various foods. I too remember various events through the foods that were served, so this book sounds right up my alley. vvperesk@gmail.com

Vera said...

From your interview - love that she also owns a restaurant! I've always wanted to visit Seattle so maybe I'll check out her place when I get there ;)

vvperesk@gmail.com

Stephanie said...

I think it is interesting that there are 50 recipes in the book, makes me want to read it all the more :)

steffanie771 at hotmail dot com

Stephanie said...

I think it is interesting how open she is on her blog and I would love to try the Marmalade Cake.

steffanie771 at hotmail dot com

Nancye said...

Tweet! Tweet!

http://twitter.com/NancyeDavis/status/12304279577

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Molly's blog was named "orangettes - the French name for chocolate-dipped candied orange peels blog was named after."

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

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