Rhubarb is coming into the markets, summer is just around the corner and I’m five months from my deadline date.
Back in October, I started working on Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry (W.W. Norton, 2014.) Whatever I might have thought about writing a book, it’s much harder than I imagined, and much more rewarding. I’m going through old notebooks of recipe scribbles, testing favorite recipes again and again, and writing all the time. I love this process and I can’t wait to share the book with all of you.
But testing and writing recipes are just a small a part of making a book. Nothing happens without a brilliant team. My editor, Maria Guarnaschelli, is bringing her eagle eye to the project – sharpening the focus, organizing a massive amount of information into a logical form, and keeping me on track. It has been a tremendously valuable process.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been working with Maria to develop a photography list, identifying each and every photograph in the book. Photographs can be as essential to the storytelling as the writing, evocative and alluring and educational, and the right photographer, the right team, will help make this book replicate the one that has haunted my imagination for so many years. The season is upon us, and soon all the foods of summer will appear (and disappear.) Maria and I knew it was time to identify a photographer who would properly capture all that beauty.
I reviewed dozens of photographer’s online portfolios, recommendations from friends and colleagues and cookbooks with a photographic style that resembled my developing aesthetic.
A few cookbooks kept ending up on top of the pile. (If you don’t own these books, consider this is an unabashed endorsement.)
The Canal House series – a favorite of mine since the books first appeared, with sensible, approachable recipes and stunning, simple photographs. I give the series as a wedding gift to anyone who cooks.
And Deborah Madison’s remarkable Vegetable Literacy, a superb collision of botany and kitchen. This lovely book explores vegetables from a new and different angle. The writing is gorgeous, the recipes are innovative and the photographs are, well, exceptional.
But really, it was Southern Living’s Hunter Lewis who provided the impetus. Back in February, over dinner in Charleston (at the incomparable FIG,) he suggested I contact Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton – “the Canal House team.” Hunter, I am endlessly grateful. You were absolutely correct, we three are cut from the same cloth.
Yes, yes, it’s true. The remarkably talented Christopher and Melissa will be shooting and styling the photographs for my book. I am feeling very grateful and enthusiastic and so far beyond excited that over the moon doesn’t suffice. It’s more like over all seven of Saturn’s moons.
I’ll be back here soon with a new early summer preserves. Until then, I’m busy packing up a basket of goodies to carry up to Lambertville for a face to face with my photographic team. Color me lucky.