Thursday, June 2, 2011

So you want to write a cookbook?

There’s no lack of romanticism in the idea of writing a cookbook. You imagine your name splashed across the cover in a stylish, zippy font, a sharpie pen in your hand and legions of fans lined up to have you scrawl your Rick Moonen on the title page. There’s even more allure and magical thinking contemplating a book tour – suddenly you’re in that movie Almost Famous and there are girls fetching you drinks, tour buses, crazed fans, backstage shenanigans and diving into swimming pools from the second floor balcony.

The truth is that writing a cookbook encompasses more work than you can possibly imagine, more recipe testing than one ever ought to do, and, in my case, night after night after night of eating fish, which is certainly no hardship – I mean, I love fish, but even I have my limit. If the recipe tests well, you happily move on to the next but if it doesn’t you tweak and tweak and tweak until your significant other threatens to move out when you put the 18th version of that broiled oyster with grapefruit sabayon on the table.

Unless you are a very lucky, terribly famous person, you will not be able to quit your day job while you are writing this book and testing these recipes. You will attempt to jam this writing into your already busy life, crow-barring the work into your schedule with the determination and anxiety of a neurotic terrier with his head stuck in a foxhole.

But I don’t mean to discourage you.

There are some supreme upsides, the first being the pleasure you get saying the words ‘I have just sent in my manuscript.'  Say this with a British accent because it will sound more impressive.  Say this line to everyone you meet, including your pets as they will look excited each and every time you say it. Then --- next.... an interminably long month or three later,  the book returns to you in its actualized physical manifestation - and this is the day you have been waiting for - THE EAGLE HAS LANDED.  The hand cramps, the stomach pains, the sheer labor that comes from birthing a book baby from your own fingertips – this is a wonderment that is palpable and it is a joy that no longer needs active tending or a college savings plan. On this day, with your book in your hand, you will be done with the writing.

Soak it up.

Breathe it in.

Enjoy this day for tomorrow you’ll move on to a deeper depth of hellfire that is known in the business as the Fiery Pit of Shameless Self Promotion.

Why write a cookbook? Not for fame and not for money. Write a cookbook because you feel like you have something to say, something to add, a mark to make that hasn’t been made. Write a cookbook because you take joy in the process of defining your style, and take pleasure in communicating that style to others. Write a cookbook so that when the girls and the crazed fans finally arrive, you’ll have something good to feed them.


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