In Conversation /

Cooking the books: In Conversation with Exceptional Women

Back in December, I had such a good time cooking from my friend Tara’s “Almost Meatless” that I decided I should make reveling in others cookbooks a semi-regular thing, which I’m calling “cooking the books.” It means I get to introduce you to some of my awesome book-writing pals and their work, plus I get to cook and enjoy their recipes, expanding my culinary know-how.

The first book I’m featuring, however, isn’t a cookbook at all. I think you’ll enjoy it nevertheless, as well as its author, the lovely Monica Bhide…

This is not a book to zoom through. It’s a book to be enjoyed, savored, parceled out, and relished. This is “In Conversation with Exceptional Women: Seeds of inspiration to help you bloom where you are planted,” an e-book by Monica Bhide.

In it, Monica talks with fifty-six different women – most, but not all, in the writing and publishing world and most, but not all, foodies – about what makes them tick. Through Monica, we get a glimpse into what inspires them and how they define success. How they’ve overcome difficulties and what they’d tell their 16-year-old selves. We get to hear their advice to aspiring writers.

In short, via Monica, we get to hang out with people like Ruth Reichl, Padma Lakshmi, and Sara Moulton, and be touched and inspired by them.

Monica Bhide is no slouch herself. She’s written for many major national and international publications, she’s a frequent contributor to NPR’s Kitchen Window, and she’s written three cookbooks. But she obviously has such admiration for, and is so charmed by, her subjects that you can’t help but feel the same.

I mean, how can you not love that Food Network star Daisy Martinez is inspired to cook when she’s ecstatically happy or seriously sad? Or that super-blogger Molly Wizenberg motivates herself by making “work dates” with friends? Or that a divorce caused Deborah Madison, award-winning cookbook author and founding chef of San Francisco’s Greens restaurant, to lose her interest in cooking, but that a neighbor’s small children helped her get it back?

I don’t recommend reading “In Conversation with Exceptional Women” straight through. Rather, I recommend dipping into it, regularly, to better ponder and digest its tidbits. This isn’t heavy-duty stuff – but it’s deceptively light, with gems buried in its off-the-cuff conversational style.

If you or someone you know is a food writer, or an aspiring food writer, buy this e-book. Not so you’ll have the answers, but so you can better savor the journey – and have these exceptional women by your side along the way.

It’d be a great way to say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day, even to yourself.

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