Today I have another writing friend as a guest here at Chez Mit. Elisa is such an inspiration to me. She is one of those fearless people who sets a goal - and pursues it in anyway possible. Plus, she likes my food writing. I'm happy to have her here today.
First of all, thank you so much, Mit, for allowing me to be a guest blogger. I always enjoy reading your posts about food—your descriptions allow me to eat vicariously!
I’m in the last leg of my 30-day blog tour for FAKING IT, and it’s been a blast. The perfect summer read, FAKING IT is about Andi a 30-something writing professor, who meets Devin, a handsome, charming escort (is there another kind?), and proposes an unusual arrangement: lessons in writing in exchange for lessons in how to be a better lover. When the two break the rules of their contract that forbids each other from seeing each other socially and become friends, problems ensue. Think When Harry Met Sally meets Sex and the City. Both hilarious and heartwarming, FAKING IT is the perfect summer read and makes for a great escape by the pool, in the backyard, or at the beach.
I’m currently offering a special for book clubs. If you select FAKING IT for your book club, order four or more copies from me directly, I will not only offer a discount (including free shipping!), but also sign the books. Furthermore, if you are local to Raleigh, NC, I will attend your book club discussion (or, for those not local, join the phone via speakerphone)!
Since Mit is such a fan of food, I thought I’d devote this post to some of the foods featured in FAKING IT. The majority of novel takes place in New York. I’m from Long Island, so when I say “New York” I mean Long Island, the five boroughs, and Manhattan. (Everything else is “upstate”.) Of course, Manhattan is one of those cities where you can find cuisine of every kind, but my favorites have always been those staples that simply aren’t as good anywhere else.
Take the bagel, for example. Nowhere can you find the right combination of crispy-chewy-sweet-salty than a New York bagel. Folklore says that the Je ne sais quoi in the New York water is the secret to the bagel. But when I lived in southeastern Massachusetts and patronized the local bagel shop (named New York Bagel, incidentally), my Fall River friends would ask me if did indeed measure up to the real thing. I would inconspicuously shake my head and whisper, “Close, but not good enough. It’s the water.” One morning, the owner overheard me and, in thick New England accent, admonished me: “It’s not the watah—it’s wot you put in it!” (“it” being the bagel) “Well,” I said (in thick Long Island accent) when we left the establishment, “you’re not puttin’ somethin’ in it.”
It’s the first thing I ask for when I come home to Long Island for a visit. That and a slice of pizza. And while I’ve found some decent pizza here in North Carolina (for those who don’t know, the town Cary stands for Containment Area for Relocated Yankees, thus they set out to bring the food with ‘em – then again, I had such bad pizza in MA for so long that almost anything is an upgrade), I’ve yet to find a bagel that measures up.
And then there’s the cheesecake.
I gotta admit: southern cooking does comfort food like nobody else. In that regard, I fit right in here (although I tried grits; no thank you). I’ve tasted some fabulous red velvet cake, bread pudding, and sweet potato pie that sent me to heaven and back, but nothing beats a slice of Junior’s cheesecake.
At the time that I wrote the first draft of FAKING IT, the scene with Andi and Devin meeting at Junior’s for the first time was conjured from imagination—a wish, if you will. The only knowledge I had of Junior’s came from the movies and my Jewish friends who knew and spoke of the Brooklyn establishment with as much nostalgia as my elders spoke of the Dodgers and Ebbets Field. (I’m not trying to be stereotypical by emphasizing that said friends were Jewish, but they had a way of talking about the place, not to mention the cheesecake: Oy! Dawl! What do you know from cheesecake if you don’t know Junior's?). But three years later, when visiting a friend in Brooklyn, I asked if we could fit it into our itinerary.
Oh. My. God.
I can only hope I did the place, and the slice, justice when I revised that scene. Let’s just say that I was right on the money with Andi’s subtly orgasmic reaction. It became a symbol of pleasure in the novel. And it’s a pleasure that is most appreciated because it’s not an everyday experience. I wonder if its divinity would wear off on me if I had a slice on a regular basis. It’s a hypothesis I’d be willing to test, however.
Food is comfort, and food is pleasure. And ultimately, Devin’s lesson to Andi is to be mindful of pleasure for pleasure’s sake. I think she learns her lesson.
We can all stand to be more mindful of those pleasures in the simple foods. A biscuit. Spaghetti and meatballs. Mashed potatoes. A chocolate chip cookie. Close your eyes. Chew slowly. And think of home.
And the next time you go to New York, have a bagel for breakfast, a slice of pizza for lunch, and Junior’s cheesecake anytime. You may find Andi and Devin sitting in a booth.
FAKING IT is currently available at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh, NC; Baker Books in N. Dartmouth, MA; Lulu.com; and on Amazon Kindle (for under two bucks!). You can also follow me on Twitter or at my blog "I'll Have What She's Having."
See you there!