However, I will have to be excused this week, because I got a phone call today to tell me that my birth mother died very peacefully this morning (see Elsewoman). Soon I'll be heading off for the funeral. In past times she would have relished hearing all about it and seeing my photos. So I will tell you my stories about it next week instead, imagining I'm telling her too. But just not right now.
What I will tell you briefly, though, is what I was able to tell my mostly sister and one or two brother bloggers at the dinner on Friday night. The food memoir I've been writing for three years is going to be published early next year by Awa Press as their first "e-riginal" - an original e-book. Here's what I said on Friday, with a first tiny taste of the book itself. It's a little memorial for my birth mother too - she loved eating and cooking, and one of our greatest pleasures was eating out together.
"I love reading food memoirs, and I’ve loved writing this one. I’ve set out to conjure up a lifetime of experiences related to food. So it covers a lot of ground. It moves from the everyday fare of suburban Mount Eden in the 1950s to the pitfalls and pleasures of learning to cook as a 19 year old bride who had never lifted a pan in my life; on to discovering the exotic dishes of Albania in the 1970s, and at last getting to grips with French food in all its glory.
But of course, food never stands alone. From the beginning, it’s tied up with our deepest feelings and desires. So for me, writing about food has also meant writing about finding a long-lost mother, losing a son, sharing the kitchen and table with a beloved husband - and finally, over the last eighteen months, learning for the first time how to cook and eat alone.
I want be in touch with you all again in the next few months about my book...But for now, to go with this great dinner, here’s a tiny advance taste.
I’d never had any French bread, but I knew what it looked like from the pictures. I imagined a thin dark-haired girl like Lesley Caron in Gigi, opening a paper bag and taking out a piece of baguette and a few squares of dark chocolate. (Somehow I always thought of it as dark like Cadbury’s Energy, not pale brown like Dairy Milk).
But I wasn’t sure what happened next – did she eat these things one at a time, in alternating bites, or did she put the chocolate into the bread and eat it like a chocolate sandwich?
It took me seventeen years to find out. On my first morning in
, I ate my first warm, flaky, buttery, melting pain au
chocolat, and knew that this was what those schoolgirls in En Route had been eating all along." Paris