The NEXT BIG THING. Everyone wants to know what it is, before it is. Who is bringing sexy back? What’s the new black? Which restaurant is about to be so popular, it’ll be impossible to get a table? And of course, what’s the newest food trend? We all want to know.
Just so, I got asked to blog about what THE NEXT BIG THING is in my little world, as part of a blog “tag,” wherein other esteemed food writers talk about what they’re working on, their next big thing, as it were. I got invited into this exchange by my pal Sandra Gutierrez, author of The New Southern-Latino Table, and for this I am very flattered.
So here it is, my Q&A with myself about THE NEXT BIG THING: my newest cookbook, Crackers and Dips (available for preorder on Amazon now!)
Who is publishing your book, and when will it be available to the adoring public?
I was lucky to hook up with Chronicle Books in San Francisco, who did a beautiful job producing my book about homemade crackers and dips. It looks like those cute books you can’t resist in Anthropologie. It’s officially released on May 7th, but you’ll be able to meet me and buy the book before then (see the Appearances page), or you can buy preorder it now, just click on the cover of the book in the upper right hand corner of this screen.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’m a snack tooth; I don’t like sweets and desserts much, but put me in front of a bowl of salty snacks, and oh boy! I’ve been making crackers since I worked in restaurants in college, and then continued to make crackers for catering gigs, in classes, and for home use. They never fail to impress people. The funny thing is, they are so easy–it’s just flour, salt, oil/butter, and water. But bust out a bowl full of Sicilian cracker sheets at a cocktail party, a cup of goldfish crackers for a hungry toddler (or mom), or make a batch of amaranth, cheddar, and pumpkin seed squares for a gluten-free friend and they go on and on about how you’re a genius. I like being told I’m a genius, so I’ve gotten rather good at making crackers. And the dips? Well, they’re just the frosting on the cake, as it were.
How long did it take you to research and write this book?
It took about 4 months to actually write the book, but I’ve been thinking about this topic for years, and I’ve been making crackers for over 21 years (careful darling, your age is showing). I’m so glad that Bill Le Blond, my editor at Chronicle Books, saw the potential in me and this idea. I believe my book proposal began with “Cracker is the new cupcake!” and he apparently agreed with me.
What is your favorite aspect of writing a cookbook?
I love the daily grind of it. I developed a spreadsheet with all the recipes named with a time line, and I just loved getting up everyday and writing the recipes and testing them over and over until they came out perfectly. Crackers and dips are such a passion, that it didn’t often feel like work (except for the damn beet chips). Then I got to share my work with friends and get feedback, everyone I know got crackers and dips, I even had parties just to serve them…because when you’re working on recipes you’re surrounded by food and you need a way to shove it off on someone! I even brought 5 kinds of crackers and 5 dips to an outdoor concert we were attending and passed them around to all the picnickers sitting near us and asked things like, “Do you like these crackers? What would make you love them?”
What is the hardest aspect of writing a cookbook?
The endless dishes. Especially baking sheets. I must have washed a million baking sheets while working on this book.
What interesting things would we find in your refrigerator right now if we were to open it?
Let’s just say there has been an official household moratorium on the purchase of any more condiments. I have 6 kinds of soy sauce, 3 kinds of miso, half a dozen mustards, 3 fish sauces, 2 anchovy pastes, 2 shrimp pastes, and about a million other little jars. And let’s not even talk about the cheese drawer. I buy cheese like some people buy shoes. I am the Imelda Marcos of artisan-made cheese.
What is your favorite sound in the kitchen?
I have a Logitech streaming radio, so I can listen to any station from just about anywhere in the world. If I’m doing a curry, I tune into a Mumbai pop station. If I’m cooking sopes or tacos, it’s David Byrne’s station with hot Latin music. If I’m making pasta, Radio Monte Carlo does the trick.
What three ingredients can’t you live without?
Flour, salt, oil (see above description of cracker ingredients).
So, do you have an agent?
I do! I am in the capable hands of Betsy Amster. I can’t get her to like sake (I have tried), but she’s great fun to go out to dinner with (v. important), brilliant, and a great advocate and agent.
Which actors would you chose to play you in the film rendition of this book?
I was just told by a man in the grocery store that I reminded him of Parker Posey. So there ya go. But…can she bake?
HEH! Are you a food writer interested in a review copy or in more information about my upcoming book? Send me an email (click the Contact link at the top of the page) and I’ll do my level best to get you a copy.