gabrielle hamilton at the toronto reference library

“he cooked in a restaurant that i used to do a lot of coke in”

consider this fair warning that i’m about to send out a barrage of ideas and happenings. i’ve been lagging in the blogging because i’ve been experiencing and processing and shit. but basically; i’m back to grateful, and thus, back to great-full. the difference between alison fryer interviewing gabrielle hamilton at the library and oldentitledwhitelady interviewing esi edugyan at the library is style, respect (or lack thereof), and laziness.

“it might be kind of harsh for me to say to my kids-‘i don’t need to go to work, i want to go to work.'”

so let me take back the old in the above christening, i have nothing against old people. in fact-my return on tuesday to the play-reading group was one of the highlights of my week, along with the bulkbarn candy sac en route to the carlton cinema to watch 21 jumpstreet for five bux. (ice muthafuckin’ cube! and what, did dustin nguyen refuse to make the cameo? as someone that still laments that her portable dvd player was stolen with episode on which he was speaking vietnamese on mainstream american television, that screen on-screen tribute was not lost on me)

but from an interviewer’s point of view, it’s really nice when the person you’re probing stops, smiles, and thanks you for asking the question. last night’s incidence of this was “what is something that isn’t known about your restaurant that we don’t know about?”

the answer involved paying staff on time, having everyone work very hard but very smart, presenting double-salt licorice (a strong digestive) with every lunch bill, and peeling people’s soft-boiled eggs.

“is this a real allergy or are you trying to show me you’re the boss?”

“i’m not a good mentor until i’m paired with someone who’s very eager. i can’t inspire, you need to bring your own work ethic”*

at risk of reading too much personal parallel into this book/talk (like everyone who asked a question), i really appreciated the candor, graciousness, and listening that gabrielle brought to the table last night, and the non-divaness of alison to wear her interview hat (only). ok, and her ranty hat on the fact that most (food) blogs are shit, but only for a moment. but there was a really beauty-full moment when gabrielle recounted wynton marsalis saying that you can tell a lot about a kid by the way he holds his horn, and extrapolating this to the kitchen (and i’m going to push it to life and one’s own body). she relates it to how folks stand in the kitchen, how they react to heat:

“if you see someone standing with their groin far away from the heat the way that enemies kiss…”

i’m glad that nadia ended up coming with me, and that she now has a book (with a new chapter!) to read on her next adventure. i’m also glad that we were together to hear the truths about “not suffering future pain”, the constant renewal and shift of the pursuit of purpose and checking in that your actions line up with your beliefs. as writers, i’m also glad that we were together to hear the advice about voice:

“i was looking for a voice i could live with for 300 pages.”

“the best advice i got about voice was “to talk to the smartest person you know about everything you hate about the subject with as much compassion as you can muster.”

wow. big time. like delivering a riveting diversity workshop to 100+ white women and not revealing one’s pecs of spectacular with the power to halt an otherwise smooth skype call. (this also happened this night-i love my life).

“i can’t go down that male/female road. anyone who’s really preoccupied with their gender (in this business) makes me uncomfortable.”

read the book, peoples, read the book. (grumble grumble).
(brackets mine, for emphasis)
*all quotes may be paraphrased and coloured by emotional awe of writer.

finally, i managed to sneak back and grab her hand and exclaim “you’re the best!” as she was finishing her signature on bash‘s book and she looked up with a surprised yet smiling, “thank you”.

indeed. i may have to end my separation with nyc to eat at prune. and candle 79. though they could respond to me about my outlandish and crazy request to be flown here to cater cj‘s wedding, already. i can put it on the company account, like my pig(s). it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission….


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