After a many years happily spent thinking and writing about food, Chicago-based author and documentarian Peggy Wolff had an epiphany.
Of the hundreds of compilations of contemporary food writing, none have centered on the Midwest, the region that gave America everything from Quaker Oats to Kraft, Kellogg’s cereals to Good Humor bars. And, it turns out, Midwestern authors (food-centric and otherwise) had a lot to say on the subject.
Star-Studded Local Authors
Her new book, “Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food” (University of Nebraska paperback, $19.95), is a happy stroll through the food memories and experiences of a talented group, including local favorites Chef Gale Gand; former Tribune food editor Carol Mighton Haddix; authors Stuart Dybek, Elizabeth Berg and Jacquelyn Mitchard; and “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” host Peter Sagal.
“I asked them to recall the times when food triggered a memory, raised a question, or was a starting place for a meditation on the times when growing or cooking or eating became an unforgettable experience,” writes Wolff in her book’s introduction. So you’ll read reminiscences of car trips and family kitchens, hilarious county fair visits, and a meatloaf-lover’s true confessions.
Can I Have Some, Please?
The essays are highly evocative. I dare you to read Robert Olmstead’s paean to Cinncinnati Five-Way Chili and not immediately crave a huge plate of spaghetti topped with chili, cheese, kidney beans and onions; or to finish Sue Hubbell’s “The Great American Pie Expedition” without immediately heading to your car, jumping on the interstate and going in search of great pie (although, hint, hint, you can also find it a little closer to home here).
Wilmette Book Event, January 29
If you’re a lover of corn, apple cider, meatloaf, or an old-fashioned Door County fish boil, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy. Better yet, join me Wednesday, Jan. 29 at the Michigan Shores Club (911 Michigan Ave., Wilmette, 847-251-4100) for a cocktail-hour reception with Peggy Wolff. The reception (complimentary hors d’oeuvres, cash bar) begins at 6:30 p.m.; at 7 p.m. the event will feature Peggy Wolff in conversation with New York Times best-selling author Elizabeth Berg, who will read passages from her essay. A book signing will follow.
This event is open to the public. Books will be available for purchase and signing.