There and Back Again –
Introducing Palate

Well. Hello. It’s been some time. The longest time I’ve ever not written something in this space since I started writing in this space eleven years ago. But it’s been some things. It’s been fire and the end of a relationship. It’s been living with boxes for furniture and then unpacking boxes of furniture and getting really good at IKEA instructions once the five months of renovations were up and I was back at home. It’s been painting all the walls and trying to capture photos of Rum Tum the cat at his best angle. It’s been work, so much work, and endless pots of coffee. It’s been bouts of bizarre dreams and insomnia, but also lots of baths and even more reading because I’ve invested in bookshelves. It’s been a trip home for Christmas and a New Year’s cruise in the Caribbean, a weekend at the Baltic and in Amsterdam. It’s been the mundane things, like eating dinner and cleaning the bathroom, brushing my teeth. It’s been getting my bike fixed. It’s been watering the plants. Basically, it’s been life.

And also, it’s been a book. Last year, I decided that if I had nothing else to show for my year, I’d finally get around to finishing the book that’s been sitting on my hard drive 95% done for about four years. The book has had its own dramatic history – it would pick up momentum, garner interest, and then plans would fall through, people got busy. It’s okay, I get it. Life happens. Half the time it was my life happening that got in the way.

But in the same way that all of last year’s bitterest moments revealed just how much I have to be grateful for, the book has always been supported and loved on its journey to becoming, no matter how serpentine the turns. I’ve had help from people testing recipe after recipe, making videos, taking headshots, offering feedback and encouragement. But my two constants are women without whom the book never would have come to be, who made me believe it was even possible in the first place: Ellen and Anna.

I look back at who we were four years ago when we started working on Palate. A lot the same, and also different. Still perfectionists, still challenging ourselves to think bigger and push harder. Still creative and reflective and observant. Maybe a little less sure of ourselves, of the direction we wanted life to go. Today, Anna is a programmer making beautiful maps, and Ellen is in Indiana pursuing a PhD in sex robots. (I hope she doesn’t kill me for that pithy reduction.) And still, when I wrote them last year and said, let’s get this thing done, they made time in their very full lives.

It’s a beautiful book, at least I think so, and I think I’m allowed to say so, because what makes it so beautiful is Ellen’s design and Anna’s illustrations. They took my humble words and pictures and made them into A BOOK. A real, live book.

There are stories about sadness and anxiety and fear, just as there are stories about joy and friendship and becoming. Life.

Palate, as its name implies, is about learning to trust yourself, your intuition and tastes in the kitchen. It’s a collection of stories that follows my journey toward learning to cook through places I’ve lived that’ve been instrumental on that road: Davidson, New York, and Berlin – and also, memory. There’s a story about the time I spilled a beer into my laptop and broke it during my first, friend-hungry month living in Berlin. There’s a story about the magic of my grandma’s egg-in-toast and a story about the magic of my grandpa’s ice-cold bathroom. And of course, my Brooklyn rooftop makes an appearance, on a night when a bowl of bread salad represented all my feelings of loneliness and love. There are stories about sadness and anxiety and fear, just as there are stories about joy and friendship and becoming. Life.

I’ve grown so much since I started writing this book, and certainly a lot has changed since then. But when I reread these stories, they still ring true. I see myself in those pages looking back at myself as I write the story; I’m just the largest, for now, in an endless line of nesting dolls. And as I read I recognize my characteristic thumbprint, the way I look at moments of fear or hurt or pain as an opportunity to learn something, to change.

Last year, at many times, it felt like I’d lost that viewpoint. The anxiety felt pointless, no more, no less. And it wasn’t like I woke up one day and just decided to get my old life view back. It took a lot of work, some therapy and medication, a lot of self-reflection, a lot of just living. Some roads are a little longer than others. That one, the one in which I stop trying to be perfect and do everything right, is one I’m still working on. Holding Palate in my hands, at least, I know that its long journey is done. Though on second thought, I have to sell it now. So just kidding, its journey is just beginning.

To order a book, please email eatmedrinkmeblog.com (34€ plus shipping). In mere days, it will also be available for purchase through the site! And if you’re in Berlin, I’d love to see you at the launch party on March 18 at Vagabund Brauerei.

Comments

  1. Cathie McKeon says:

    wow and wow and wow!
    p.s. love the cat! cleaver of her to pose for you…