Okay, folks, picture a drumroll, if you will. (Or imagine a drumroll? Conjure a drumroll? Whatever, a drumroll. Let's just pretend you're hearing one right now, okay?)
Do you like it? I so hope you like it.
Let me tell you a little how it came about. Back in January, during a Very Cold Snap, I was asked by the art director at Viking to send over a few photos of me that could be used for the cover of the book. Now I don't know about those of you who are the designated photographers in your social circle, but I actually have very few photos of myself - after all, I'm always the one with the camera. So I called my very talented friend Jördis Anderson and asked her if she wouldn't mind meeting up early one Saturday morning to take some pictures of me. Despite the freezing cold, Jördis was game, quickly organizing childcare and clearing her schedule. We agreed to go to my favorite green market first thing in the morning, before it got too crowded, and then on a little stroll around my neighborhood.
I was a little nervous that morning. I don't find myself particularly photogenic and I was dreading stiffening up in front of the camera. We only had that one weekend to shoot and the pressure to get the right image felt, well, intense. I was also just emerging from the "I-hate-my-strange-new-body-shape" phase of pregnancy, a little unsure of how well I'd be able to hide The Bump. (After all, this book is called My Berlin Kitchen, not Bringing Up Kindchen.) Luckily, the market was relatively empty and only a few people stared at us as Jördis quickly took a few snaps of me plucking potatoes out of a bin, holding a bundle of carrots, selecting a bouquet of hot pink ranunculus. Still, when we looked at the photos on the display of her camera, we both agreed that what we wanted to capture simply wasn't there. Growing colder by the minute, we hopped in the car and drove to one of my favorite streets in Berlin, Friedbergstraße.
Friedbergstraße is one of the only streets in Berlin that suffered absolutely no damage in World War II - all of its turn-of-the-century buildings are intact and pristinely cared for. It's a gorgeous sight, especially when compared to almost every other street in Berlin that is peppered with squat little buildings from the 1950s and 1960s, a sure sign that an Allied bomb destroyed what once stood there. Trying not to shiver and buoyed by Jördis's good spirits, I walked up and down that street as she snapped away, passing typically Berlin doorways, clacking over the tiny cobblestones, trying to be both as dynamic and slow as possible so that Jördis's images would have energy and focus at once.
By lunchtime, Jördis thought she had shot enough and we were both so cold and tired (and hungry) that it sort of made sense to call it a day. We went back to my apartment and I cooked us lunch while she snapped away. You can see some of those shots in my kitchen and living room here, mismatched plates and all. Then Jördis fiddled with her computer for a while, uploading the photos and selecting the ones she liked best before sending off the files to the art director. And then we crossed our fingers and waited.
Now, you all remember that I used to be a cookbook editor before I said goodbye to New York and followed my heart to Berlin, yes? Well, one of the many things I used to do in my old role was deal with jacket images and cover design, corralling the author's input and the designer's needs and everyone else's requirements into one final image that would, oh, also actually sell. Folks, this was never an easy thing, to choose the right photo, to nail the design, to make the author and the designer and the publisher and the publicist and the marketing folks and the sales department happy. In fact, we used to go through rounds and rounds of cover designs (different photographs, fonts, title placements, subtitle placements, burst placements, for Pete's sake) before finally settling on just the right one. So I was bracing myself for just that: a lot of rounds and negotiations and compromise. I knew it was just part of the process.
But then, just a few days after we sent in the photos, my editor sent me the image of that jacket up there, created by the art director, Roseanne Serra. I'll admit, opening the file was a little scary. What would I see? Which photo would she have picked? (We'd sent her 19 to choose from.) When the image opened up and I saw it with all its charming details, its simplicity, its total "Berlin-ness", for lack of a better word, all I could think was: Roseanne, lady: You. Nailed. It.
The craziest thing was that everyone else agreed. And that was that. Easy-peasy. Done. (And now, to my neverending delight, the cover image also graces the Viking Fall 2012 catalogue!)
As the process of publishing this book goes forward, I'll be sure to keep you all updated on things that I think you might find interesting about the journey. But I'd love to know: is there anything in particular you'd like me to write about on this subject? Any topic related to the book writing or the publication that you'd like explained? Please let me know. And thanks, as always, for being such lovely readers and supporters. I couldn't imagine doing any of this without you.