The photo above does small justice to the array of foods that my dear friend and caregiver to Sophie, Saint Mirtha, made for my inaugural Books & Bakes literary and food salon. Here she is preparing the empanadas, corn tortillas tinged red with paprika, stuffed with beef and potatoes and spices, then fried until crisp:
There were also Colombian arepas, pico de gallo, a brothy, beef soup called estofado de carne, a coconut chicken dish (pollo en salsa de coco), and beans (frijoles rojos Colombianos). We drank margaritas, Chilean white and red wine and finished with a Chocolate Red Wine cake -- a recipe that inspired me to pick Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez as my first Books & Bakes discussion. If you've never visited Cara Nicoletti's blog Yummy Books, please do. She's a young kick-ass butcher, writer and cook with what looks to be an amazing book coming out next summer.
Marquez' book of short stories, Strange Pilgrims, inspired a great discussion. The people who attended were really engaged, and whether they liked the book or not, had so many interesting thoughts and reactions. We all marveled over the language of the short stories, the humor in them, and above all, the seamless way Marquez moved from tight and journalistic prose into the flights of imagination that mark his mastery of magical realism. I learned so much from others' commentary and believe I managed to facilitate the discussion quite well. I have a second group of people coming in two weeks, and then Books & Bakes is on to another book, The Book of Salt by Monique Truong.*
* I have some open spots for February 13th or 27th, so if you're in the area and are interested, please email me to reserve one at elsophieATgmailDOTcom.