A sold out crowd of food writers, bloggers and grub lovers gathered at Wesleyan University on May 5 to celebrate all written expressions on our favorite subject.
Under the guidance of Professor Amy Bloom, author of two novels (Oh how I loved AWAY, 2007) and two collections of short stories, both nominated for National Book Awards, a team of four Wesleyan food enthusiasts gathered an illustrious group of writers to present to a sold out crowd.
And incredibly, it was FREE!
The morning began with back to back interviews conducted by Faith Middleton, a two time Peabody Award winner and host of The Faith Middleton Show and the wildly popular Food Shmooze Party.
Ruth Reichl, past Editor in Chief of Gourmet Magazine, a restaurant critic and past food editor of the Los Angeles Times, and author of four memoirs, grabbed the attention of the rapt audience as she and Middleton chatted about how social class impacts food trends, why molecular gastronomy was an inevitable development, and why sous vide simply cannot be healthy.
As in her intimate and side splittingly funny memoirs, she mentioned her Mom, whose most accomplished (read: least offensive) dish was freshly picked, boiled, buttered corn.
Eric Asimov, N.Y. Times wine critic, spoke with Middleton next. She launched the convo by asking if he ever simply want to just drink wine rather than “tasting” it? He assured her that he does, and all the time.
He mentioned his upcoming book, How to Love Wine (October 2012) and recommended that wine lovers be on the lookout for Spanish Rioja’s, pours from coastal Galicia and nuanced new tastes from Sicily.
Local food trucks provided plenty of choices for lunch from a campus parking lot before the afternoon sessions started. I heard lots of folks say they enjoyed the quick bites and good stretch as we ambled across the lush green campus.
Afternoon highlights included breakout sessions appealing to all types of writers including one called, From Lokshen to Lo Mein: the Jewish Love Affair with Chinese Food.
Chichi Wang, columnist for Serious Eats addressed such devotees as she described inventing recipes and cooking crazy Jewish and Chinese inspired dishes on Christmas Eve for 60 “lonely Jewish and Chinese” folks searching for good company.
She prepared Szechuan peppercorn latkes, matzah meal crusted tofu, and kneidlach (wontons) in ginger shiitake sauce. She reported that the food was appreciated by devotees of both cuisines and guests’ spirits were kept high with the soulful blaring of Klezmer clarinets and wailing violins.
Writing About Food for Young Audiences (20 and 30 somethings) was a fascinating panel with (R to L) Cara Eisenpress (Big Girls Small Kitchen and Small Kitchen College blogs), Pippa Lord (Sous Style magazine and blog) and Tressa Eaton (NY editor of Tasting Table). These three young, successful women discussed their readers’ ages and interests, how they found their respective audiences, and shared a bit about what’s up next on their editorial calendars.
The afternoon ended with Jane Stern, author of over 31 books on Road Food, discussing how she and her partner Michael Stern began traveling back roads of America in 1971, highlighting regional American Cuisine, before such a term was coined.
She generously shared tales, in her self effacing off handed and funny way, about their escapades and misunderstandings on the road.
I can only hope that Wesleyan University will call this the First ANNUAL Foodstock when they gather speakers, writers, editors and enthusiasts together next year.
When I post about about it next, jump on it early. It sold out so quickly that even Wesleyan students had trouble grabbing a ticket.