Because I'm particular about food and there are so few restaurants nearby, I cook nearly every night, and therefore my brain often operates at the intersection of food and narrative. I'm thinking about my novel and chopping carrots, working out the plot to a short story while making stock. I have a well-loved, much underlined copy of M.F.K. Fisher's Collected Works, and am particularly interested her work about thrift and cooking. To make a gorgeous meal is not always about indulgence. Sometimes it's about the ingredients, the effort, or the damn good story behind it all. How we feed and nourish ourselves - it's so telling, so rich.
Lately, I've been really drawn to the smart women working with food and narrative: Roxane Gay, Kate Christensen (so looking forward to How to Cook a Moose), Jami Attenberg, Tamar Adler, and recently Amelia Morris, who runs the blog Bon Appetempt and who wrote a killer memoir that revolves around food and coming of age. See the lively cover below:
Amelia and I vibe pretty well, and so I thought of her as a good artist to be in conversation with re: ALMOST FAMOUS WOMEN. "There's a lot of food in the book," I told her. "Can you find something - an ingredient or a moment - that inspires you, food-wise?"
She nailed the assignment, and somehow made me cry with her post about a gorgeous pineapple pie, inspired by the roasted pineapple served in The Siege at Whale Cay story from ALMOST FAMOUS WOMEN. Here's one of my favorite sections:
...then I got to the story about the reclusive and unapologetically miserable painter Romaine Brooks. The story opens with an epigraph, a quote from Brooks’s notebooks: “We are what we can be, not what we ought to be.”
At which point, I abruptly decided to cut myself some slack.
Because I wasn’t born in 1919. I was born in 1981. I can’t, in good conscience, buy, let alone eat, a Butterball turkey.
We are what we can be. And what I can be is a baker of an incredibly delicious pineapple pie.
So, if you like pie, great writing, and humor - check out the glorious post Amelia made on her blog, Bon Appetempt, featuring anecdotes about her grandmother and son (and some of my heroines) that will make you laugh and then sneakily break your heart.
You can mail that pie, now, Amelia.