Mark your calendars! Save the date! On Tuesday, October 22nd at 6:30 pm, I'll be at NYU's Deutsches Haus for a conversation with Amanda Hesser and Deb Perelman about My Berlin Kitchen, out now in paperback!
I am beyond excited, as you can well imagine.
I hope you can come and am counting the days, hours, minutes, seconds until I am back in New York City again. I have been in the throes of missing New York for several weeks now and it's been this dullish sort of ache in my chest where I keep pushing it down to to keep it from interfering with the rest of my life. But now, now! It is in reach! And I am all afire.
(I also need to cool it with the exclamation marks, but it is just one of those evenings.)
Can't wait to see you there!
Time and date: Tuesday, October 22nd, 6:30 p.m.
Location: Deutsches Haus at NYU (here is a nifty map)
The Scene: Me, Amanda and Deb chatting about food blogging, recipes, love and happiness (!) with Martin Rauchbauer, director of Deutsches Haus.
Other: The event is free of charge, but space is limited so please rsvp to this address: deutscheshaus[dot]rsvp[at]nyu[dot]edu
Eight years ago today, I wrote my very first blog post here. I was living in a ground-floor apartment with friends in Chelsea then, commuting by foot to my office just a few blocks away. I had a window that looked out onto noisy mail trucks rumbling down 18th Street, there were massive black cockroaches who periodically liked to terrify me in the kitchen (water bugs, to get specific) and I had to tiptoe into my roommate's bedroom each morning to take a shower while she slept. But it was glorious! (Well, except for the water bugs.)
One year was the time limit I gave myself to write the blog. Just a year and then you'll be done.
Eight years later, I live in an apartment at the very top of an old building in a quiet neighborhood in western Berlin. I have a toddler who is (blessedly) asleep in his room, a lovely husband who (still) works in another city, I'm the author of a book, a book that will be published in paperback in a few short days, and I'm still blogging.
To celebrate, I wanted to give you a cake. The tender, gorgeous, simple cake my friend Gabriella made for Hugo's first birthday, the one that made him faceplant into a slice of it (though, admittedly, it might have just been CAKE in general and not that cake, but I'm sticking with the first version). However, my life these days is not conducive to cake-baking. It is not conducive to any kind of baking or cooking or time in the kitchen at all beyond making Hugo's meals and cleaning up after them. I realize this sounds sort of complain-y (I do sometimes fantasize about live-in help), but really, more than anything, I'm just trying to be honest. Life with a toddler - newsflash! - is like living with a crazy person? Who can't speak? Or walk? But has OPINIONS? And NEEDS? And FEELINGS, LOTS OF THEM? I'm still trying to figure it out. (Don't worry, I'll get you the cake eventually - give me another week or three.)
But I still want to celebrate. I mean, eight years! My book in paperback! Me, still here! You, still here! So instead of cake, let's do books. I want to thank you for being here, for reading me, for being my lovely audience and for being patient when I take a little time off. So, if you'd like to win a copy of the paperback edition of My Berlin Kitchen, leave me a comment and by the end of the weekend, I'll pick eight people to send a copy to. Sound good?
Update: The comments are now closed. The eight winners are Carol, Lynn, Kara, Jen, Helena, Yvette, Laura and Abby Lutman. Congratulations!
Okay, Berliners, this one's for you: What are you doing on Tuesday, January 22nd at 7:30 pm?
You're coming to Soho House to the My Berlin Kitchen event, of course!
Here's the skinny: My friend and Dialogue Books owner Sharmaine Lovegrove will be hosting me at Soho House's January Literary Lounge on the evening of January 22nd. I'll be doing a little reading and then Sharmaine and I will have a deeply illuminating literary chat and then there will be a Q&A so you can ask me anything your heart desires, and if the evening is anything like the book events I did in the US, it will be so wonderful I will not want it to end. I hope you come! All you need to do before that is rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Soho House is at Torstrasse 1, 10119 Berlin. You don't need to be a member to come to the reading.
See you soon! xo
Hellooooo! Is anyone out there?!? It's me! I'm back! Helloooo!
And, dearest, darlingest, bestest readers in the universe, I have the most amazing news ever. Ever. EVER EVER EVER.
My Berlin Kitchen is a bestseller!!! On the LA Times nonfiction hardcover list for the week of October 14, it popped on at number 8. Number 8! Number 8! Can you believe it? I cannot. You could have knocked me over with a feather, in fact you still could. Ohhh, and let me tell you, I have only all of you to thank for that, for going out and buying the book, for telling your friends, for showing up. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
We got back to Germany two weeks ago and went straight down to my mother's in Italy to recuperate. At first I was all, pshaw, who needs to recuperate? I need more book signings, more cities, that's what I need! And then Hugo was all, woman you must be out of our mind, I have had enough, take me to Nonna's. So we went and lo, it turned out I did need to unwind, just a little. The first several nights, I did nothing else than replay everything that had happened on the tour over and over in my head, like the very best movie I'd ever seen. Other than that, we did nothing. Besides take one hike, sit in front of the fireplace every night and eat homemade gnocchi at Gabriella's for lunch one day. (Now you know who Gabriella is! Ha! I love it.)
For those of you who wanted to hear the Leonard Lopate interview I did in New York: here you go.
Here's an interview I did with the lovely Amy Scattergood of LA Weekly, before the first event in LA.
While in Portland, I was on the local morning television network KATU: have a look.
The questions in this interview with Popmatters were really great.
I took these photos the day after we arrived on the West Coast, exactly one month ago. We rented a car and drove to the Santa Monica beach, where we walked down the pier and gazed out over the Pacific Ocean. Just a day earlier, we'd been in gray Germany. Now there was a wide expanse of blue ahead of us, a huge beach behind us and a pelican sitting in repose beside us. We stood there quietly, snapping pictures, both of us a little nervous about the trip that loomed ahead still. Hugo slept in his stroller and I thought about how funny it was that he had traveled so far already and yet didn't have a clue about where he was, how far from home he was. All that mattered to him was that Max and I were right there next to him. We were his home. We are his home. I like that, so much.
The last days of the tour went by in warp speed. Sunday, DC. Monday, New York. Tuesday, Boston. Wednesday, back to Germany. Bam! Just like that. I'm still reeling a little.
When we got off the airplane at dusk in DC, the air smelled familiar again. California smelled different, somehow. Drier, more exotic. As we rode the comparatively empty streets to our hotel, I felt in a weird way like I was making my way back home. Which, in a way, I guess I was.
The DC event was big, bigger than any had been on the West Coast, and to boot, the store sold out of my book that evening. I hadn't expected either of those things. We celebrated with delicious steak and beers at Bistrot du Coin. The night before we'd seared our mouths with a late-night meal at Shophouse. Can't wait until that thing goes national. Your taste buds should be warned.
The next day we pushed on to New York. (Acela Express, you should know you impressed two diehard Deutsche Bahn fans with your free wifi, punctuality, and hot water in the bathroom sinks - ahem, three guesses as to who added that one.) For the first time, I started getting a little jittery. I think I was scared of being there for mere hours. I was afraid of how it'd make me feel. Luckily I was almost too busy to notice.
First order of the day? The Leonard Lopate interview. (!!)
Second order of the day? A pedicure (my first since before Hugo's birth!)
Third order of the day, this one cooked up by my genius girlfriends? Afternoon hotel room party with dumplings from Vanessa's, stellar tortilla chips and guacamole from Brooklyn and treats from City Bakery and Billy's while Hugo got to meet his New York family. It was splendid.
The reading and signing at the gorgeous Powerhouse Arena was lovely, relaxed and filled with friends. The only wrinkle was that it was the beginning of the end of Hugo's incredible easiness on this trip. Poor baby was starting to hit a wall. One too many airplane rides or early morning wake ups? Who knows. He still deserves an award for what a champ he was.
Now I won't deny it; I cried saying goodbye to my friends and I couldn't really bear to look out the window as we drove over the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan that night. The visit was too short, too brief. The way a tourist might see the city, or a visiting author. Not like me, a real New Yorker, right? Right? Oh people, my heart did hurt. But then we were off again, to Boston and my stepmother, who was impatiently awaiting Hugo.
I could write a whole post on the final event of the tour, of coming back to Boston, of reading at one of the bookstores my father used to take me to when I was a kid, of seeing old friends from those days in the audience, along with faces from every step along the way to where I am today, their faces shining up at me like so many brilliant little secrets. Maybe I will, we'll see. But in the meantime, if I tell you that on that night, looking out into the audience, I couldn't help but choke up, you'll know how I felt. Blessed, lucky, proud; a little bittersweet and melancholy, too. My heart just filled to bursting.
Now we're back in Germany again, both of us reliving little moments of the past two weeks over and over. It was the trip, no, the experience of a lifetime. Those of you who came out, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. It meant the world to me to see you there, to chat, to answer your questions, to see your faces matched up to your names. And you know, for all that belly-aching I did about writing the book, I'd do it again in a heartbeat if it meant another tour.
Neither of us wanted to leave Portland. What a beautiful place! The morning of our departure, I was on the local morning television show (a link to this as soon as I'm no longer posting from my cellphone) talking about the book before we sped off to the airport to catch a flight to San Francisco.
But that flight was delayed by cloud cover, which made the rest of the day a game of catch-up as we hustled from appointment to appointment. I arrived at the reading at Book Passage in the Ferry Building a few minutes late and totally frazzled, only to see, in the group awaiting the reading, so many familiar faces from all the different parts of my life that I almost burst into tears. (You will be glad to know that I kept it together. Wouldn't that have been awkward otherwise? Ha!)
The next day, I drove out to beautiful Danville, San Francisco a faraway glittering jewel, to a lunch and get-together at the totally inspiring Rakestraw Books. I'm telling you, this book tour is making me want to open a bookstore or something. After a ride back to the city and a quick cone at Bi-Rite (malted vanilla, ho!), we drove down to Santa Cruz where I found myself contemplating getting a job at Bookshop Santa Cruz if only so I could be friends with the charming booksellers there. (Do you think it could work?) They had prepared meatballs, Pflaumenkuchen and Christmas cookies from the book for the crowd, who were amazing, full of great questions and tips on Quark-making machines (I know! More on this when I'm back at a computer).
When we had to leave the West Coast the next day, I was beset with melancholy. I'd loved every minute of the tour thus far. Los Angeles already felt so long ago. I didn't want the tour to end (still don't) and flying east meant one thing: only a few days were left.
***A note to my New York readers! The event tonight starts at 7:00 pm at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn Heights. I can't wait to see you there. Oh, and wine and cheese will be served!***
From Los Angeles, we went south first, to San Diego and more sunshine, a cozy afternoon tea organized by the intrepid reader behind Adventures By The Book, then transcendent sushi at Sushi Hane, where the beer was icy, the peppers spicy and the sushi like velvet.
Just a day later, we flew up the coast to Seattle. Seattle! I met Molly's baby girl June, ate Delancey's pizza and tomatoes so good I'd happily take them and nothing else to a desert island. Tara from Tea & Cookies did a bang-up job of hosting the book event at Seattle's University Bookstore, asking great questions and being her delightful, twinkly self.
Then on to Portland, in a terrifyingly tiny airplane that flew into the clouds and past Mount St Helens (!) for just one short evening. (Too short, since we fell in love with the city right away.) I read at Powell's to an incredible crowd and debated pitching camp in the cavernous bookstore for the rest of my life. What an incredible place! What I didn't know is that it would soon get competition.
This is my friend Gemma. Isn't she pretty? I love that smile. She's been a loyal reader since the very beginning, always demanding new posts, eating my leftovers (we lived two floors apart from each other for a few years in Queens) and bugging me about when I'd ever get around to writing a book. Oh pshaw, I'd reply and get back to baking cookies or making pizza or whatever I had to do that evening for dinner. I'd feel flattered and a little embarrassed too, but mostly I didn't think I had it in me at all. So consider me the most surprised of anyone that I did do it in the end. I did it! I wrote a book!
It has been, no joke, one of the biggest thrills of my life to hear and see, via Twitter and Facebook and emails and Instagram (I'm @wednesdaychef there), the book landing on all your front steps this week. I can't stop pinching myself. I have loved hearing your first impressions and seeing the recipes appear as finished dishes in your kitchens. Actually, even more than loving it, it has been blowing my mind. How is this my life?
And tomorrow we start the first leg of our crazy journey, baby in tow, across the pond. (Pleasegodlethimsleep.)
This is where I'll be reading over the next two weeks:
Friday, September 21st, 7:00 pm:
LOS ANGELES, CA - Vroman's Bookstore
Saturday, September 22nd, 2:30 pm:
SAN DIEGO, CA - Adventures by the Book, Westgate Hotel
Monday, September 24, 7:00 pm:
SEATTLE, WA - University Bookstore. Bonus: Tara Austen Weaver will be hosting this!
Tuesday, September 25th, 7:30 pm:
PORTLAND, OR - Powell's Books
Wednesday, September 26th, 6:00 pm:
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Book Passage
Thursday, September 27, 12:00 pm
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Rakestraw Books
Thursday, September 27, 7:00 pm:
SANTA CRUZ, CA - Bookshop Santa Cruz
Sunday, September 30, 5:00 pm:
WASHINGTON, DC - Politics & Prose
Monday, October 1, 7:00 pm:
NEW YORK, NY - Powerhouse Arena
Tuesday, October 2, 7:00 pm:
BOSTON, MA - Harvard Book Store
Can't wait to see you there. And to give my friend up there with the shiny eyes a big old hug. Living up to someone else's hopes for you is a pretty spectacular feeling. Living up to something you never in a million years thought you could do is stratospheric.