Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Honey Comb - A Trip to the Charleston Farmers Market

I've been obsessed lately with trying to eat more locally. The importance of this having been drummed into my head by recently watching the documentary Food Inc., which will change the way you shop and eat, probably forever -- but also because I've been thinking a lot about how our bodies adjust to the world around us. Food is the ultimate absorber: since growing a few of my own vegetables this year, I've realized for the first time just how much our veggies are impacted by the world in which they are born. When I eat the zucchini from my garden, I'm not just eating any old zucchini. I'm eating that thunderstorm that came through yesterday like a flash flood, raging as though we should all cease any other activities and immediately commence building our own arks. I'm eating that hot summer sun that beat down on my back all last week, wilting me on even the short trip to the front yard mailbox, causing things to grow and grow until they ripen and burst, and return to the earth. I'm reconsuming every day that has come before this moment, and when you think about it this way, intimately knowing those moments because you were there, and then consuming them, bringing them into your body, eating a zucchini becomes quite a beautiful and miraculous thing.

Yesterday at the farmer's market I roved the stalls like an insatiable woman, loading up on onions, collards, cucumbers, lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, and local chicken from a husband and wife start-up farm called Fili-West Farms -- happy to fork over $20 bucks for 3.5 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts after talking with them for nearly 20 minutes about their chicken raising techniques.

And then there was the honeycomb. It caught my eye at the local stand because I knew I wanted to buy SOMETHING there, but I'm pretty flush in the honey department now. There it sat, a big old flat brick of honeycomb, oozing with golden possibility.

"What do you use honeycomb for?" I asked the woman with grey-streaked hair who was manning the table.

"Well," she said, "You can slice it up to put on biscuits, fresh bread or toast...the wax in it is amazing for your digestive track."

Which gave me an idea...

"I bet it would be fabulous with some fruit and some fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano."

"Exactly." She agreed, probably eager to make a sale. And so the next thing I knew, I had handed over $8.00 for my own personal chunk of honeycomb.

So today I'm making tea, and as I'm reaching for my honey to add, I figure, why not go whole hog, and dip into the real thing!

I open up the container and sliced off a chunk with a table knife. It sank into the honeycomb so effortlessly, it was promising. Glopping my serving into my tea mug, I poured the boiling water over it, watching it melt away, thinking, Awesome! It melts away completely. So much less gross this way. Because truthfully, raw honeycomb is a little disgusting. But on my first sip of tea, I got it. Stuck all over my teeth, to be exact. So here I am drinking green tea with a film of honeycomb wax that has settled on top. It's pretty gross. I don't want to know what those round little white things are. Please don't let them be... bee eggs or something. But I feel virtuous. And I will not let my $8.00 go to waste.

Perhaps tomorrow, I'm better off learning how to bake some biscuits.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

My First Official Review

Just in from Kirkus Reviews... 

I feel elated, yet defensive. The book world is a small community in many ways, and of course my husband happens to be the non-fiction and managing editor of Kirkus, the pre-publication book review magazine with a reputation for being... Eric likes to say honest -- I, having been on the receiving end as an editor like to say, well, they're somewhat brutal. Of course, as an editor, this is what I knew, made Kirkus mean something -- the fact that a woman named Virginia Kirkus had started it out of her New York City home over 70 years ago, based on a passion for books and providing a forum for honest analysis of them, a tradition they carry on today.  My worry is that people in the book business who know us will see this and think it is unearned.

It can be refreshing (if not terrifying) that Kirkus is not here to do anybody any favors. Which was why, when Eric sent my galley off to get its obligatory review, he sent it "blind." To a reviewer who doesn't know who I am, probably doesn't even know that Eric is married, and he blacked out all the distinguishing characteristics -- tore out my author bio page, etc.

When I heard the review was in, my stomach plummeted. But as it turned out, I had nothing to fear... here's the review, below:

A search for faeries—and magic in general—allows former book editor Pike to reclaim a happier, more engaged life.
While working for two different publishers in New York City, a fog of disgruntlement had settled over the author. She was weary of the hustle and bustle, as well as reading piles of manuscripts, but there was also a greater malaise involved. The whole world seemed to be going to hell in a hand basket, and somewhere along the line she had lost her sense of wonder and the joy of surprise. She hungered for a little magic and a belief in something to restore the pleasurable ache of innocence and reinvigorate her daily life. So, Pike decided to go looking for faeries. One of the most appealing aspects of her book is that she does it all with ringing earnestness—even when she’s a witty smart-aleck—and without a hint of frou-frou spirituality. “I wanted to travel the world, find the people who are still awake in that old dreamtime, hear their stories,” she writes. “I was going to find the goddamned fairies.” As the author discovered, there are plenty of them out there, and numerous people for whom faeries are a fact of life to be reckoned with. Through these people, Pike re-engaged with the world in a way that was more typical of her youth. Her deceased father—a complicated, pungent soul who wends his way through the story—had been an energetic guide to the mystery and myth of the outdoors, and he effectively conveyed that to the author, despite her being a fearful kid. Pike writes of her various encounters with faery-believers and faery lands, from New York to Mexico to Ireland to Scotland, in a winning voice that roams freely from melancholy to mirth, incredulity to bright surprise.
“In chasing the beliefs I had as a child, I’d somehow managed to grow up”—into a person easily as captivating as her quarry. -- Kirkus Reviews