This past week I saw Barbara Lynch, the award-winning, Boston-based chef and restauranteur discuss her new book Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire with Ishan Gurdal, the founder and owner of Formaggio Kitchen. The event was hosted by Harvard Bookstore and held at the Brattle Theatre and it was packed. Sold out with people standing in the back!
The conversation was heartbreakingly honest with tears and a lot of laughs and I came away from it (just like the first time I saw Barbara Lynch) totally in awe of this woman!
About her new book:
Blood, Bones, & Butter meets A Devil in the Kitchen in this funny, fierce, and poignant memoir by world-renowned chef, restaurateur, and Top Chef judge Barbara Lynch, recounting her rise from a hard-knocks South Boston childhood to culinary stardom.
Celebrated chef Barbara Lynch credits the defiant spirit of her upbringing in tough, poor “Southie,” a neighborhood ruled by the notorious Whitey Bulger gang, with helping her bluff her way into her first professional cooking jobs; develop a distinct culinary style through instinct and sheer moxie; then dare to found an empire of restaurants ranging from a casual but elegant “clam shack” to Boston’s epitome of modern haute cuisine.
One of seven children born to an overworked single mother, Lynch was raised in a housing project. She earned a daredevil reputation for boosting vehicles (even a city bus), petty theft, drinking and doing drugs, and narrowly escaping arrest—haunted all the while by a painful buried trauma.
Out of Line describes Lynch’s remarkable process of self-invention, including her encounters with colorful characters of the food world, and vividly evokes the magic of creation in the kitchen. It is also a love letter to South Boston and its vanishing culture, governed by Irish Catholic mothers and its own code of honor. Through her story, Lynch explores how the past—both what we strive to escape from and what we remain true to—can strengthen and expand who we are.
I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum earlier this week to catch the exhibit Beyond Words: Italian Renaissance Books on its very last day! I loved the exhibit and if you ever have a chance to look at books from this period of time I’d highly recommend it. They are absolutely fascinating. I also took the chance to explore the museum, which is probably up there on my favorite museums/galleries list. The museum is strange and stunning and the variety of collections is perfect for anyone with wide-ranging interests in the arts.
More on the exhibit:
In the 1400s book production witnessed groundbreaking advances in design and technology that transformed pages from parchment (animal skin) to paper, script to font, and vividly colored illuminations to black and white prints. A surge in literacy and demand for books drove innovation. These radical changes did not occur instantly but through a gradual process of experimentation marked by notable leaps in achievement. Much like analogue and digital culture today, manuscripts and printed books co-existed for a long period serving different purposes and readers.”
Visited the BSA (Boston Society of Architects) today to see the 5th annual gingerbread house design competition. For more information (and pictures of all of the entries) check out this great article from Boston Magazine. It was just the right amount of festive cheer to brighten up my work week!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I love when Harvard Bookstore opens up their warehouse in Somerville. Aisles and aisles of books! I picked up two spectacular books about food and an interesting looking book about the Brontës.
The National Book Awards were this week and they were amazing! Here’s the breakdown as far as the awards and I’ve highlighted a few of the most incredible moments from the evening:
Fiction: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Nonfiction: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (his speech here)
Poetry: The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky
Young People’s Literature: March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell (artist)
(See John Lewis’s speech here, it is a must-see.)
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death the Boston Public Library is holding a “season of Shakespeare” with various exhibits, classes, book discussions, lectures, film series, and more! I ran across one of the main exhibitions this past weekend. The exhibit, Shakespeare Unauthorized, “pulls back the curtain on four hundred years of adaptation, collaboration, and deception and exposes the many layers of mystery surrounding the life and work of William Shakespeare.” The exhibit was incredible, featuring most importantly rare editions of Shakespeare’s work (including a first folio!) The exhibit is on display until March 31st, 2017. Want to see a full listing of the exhibits and events? It’s available here. Enjoy!
One of the best things about living in Boston is the wonderful independent bookstores! Growing up I had to drive to the next county to find a bookstore and although lovely, it was a Barnes & Noble and didn’t have the individuality and feel of an indie bookstore. Many of the local bookstores in and around Boston host great book events and book clubs but two of the best are Harvard Bookstore and Brookline Booksmith. Here are just a few of the events that I’m looking forward to this month (of course, as it’s me, many of them are food related but check out the full event listings on their websites!)
Dining Out in Boston: A Culinary History at Brookline Booksmith 11/2 at 7:00PM (at Harvard Bookstore 11/10 at 7:00PM)
The Essential Oyster: A Salty Appreciation of Taste and Temptation at Harvard Bookstore 11/3 at 7:00PM
In Julia’s Kitchen: Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child at Harvard Bookstore 11/4 at 7:00PM
Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan at Harvard Bookstore 11/17 at 7:00PM
Small Press Book Club at Brookline Booksmith 11/21 at 7:00PM (Reading: Colonel Lagrimas by Carlos Fonseca)
Book Club at Harvard Bookstore 11/28 at 7:00PM (Reading: A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin)
I’m lucky to have such wonderful indie booksellers in Boston and Brookline Booksmith is a favorite of mine. Their author events are wonderful and last week I attended an event with authors Joanna Rakoff and Edan Lepucki. Lepucki (of Colbert show fame) shed some interesting light on the dystopian movement in literature as of late and Joanna Rakoff was as exuberant and interesting as always. It’s great to see these young female authors taking over the bestseller lists with their well-written, thought provoking books and it’s great to see the collaborative and supportive nature of this young talent group. I’m especially interested in Rakoff’s memoir and its portrayal of the New York literary and publishing scene in the 90’s.
I recently attended an event hosted by the Harvard Bookstore that brought author Ruth Reichl and chef Barbara Lynch together to discuss Reichl’s latest work of fiction Delicious! The event was a wonderful insight into the writing of the novel, Lynch’s recent James Beard award, and the future of food media. Both of these women are incredibly impressive and have unique impressions of the culinary scene. It was also surprising to see how honest and down to earth they are, despite their achievements, about their anxieties and other issues they’ve overcome (and are still working on) in order to continue to make what they love, whether it’s food or literature.