When you look for recipes on the internet each one starts with a button that says Jump to Recipe followed by a story. It's usually a long story. Who reads those?
Angela does! She reads the story before the recipe. The whole story! For her, these websites really need to add a button that says Jump to Story.
Angela reads cookbooks the same way she will read the whole story. When I ask her why, she says that the recipe is more than ingredients being put together then cooked. The recipe is a story. How someone got to the recipe is a story. Getting to the finished product is a story it is not just the end result of a dish or meal or dessert. It’s an experience.
There is a lightness to Angela. In her comfortable 1920s home, seated on her comfortable couch, my feet are warmed by her big dog, Drake. He barked a deep, low bark when I arrived, showed me his favorite toy, then sat close to me so I could caress his velvet ears.
I can see Angela's light filled kitchen, diagonally to the right from my vantage point in the living room. Diagonally the other direction is the dining room, with a large table. I can easily see it filled with food, the air filled with the voices of family and friends.
In the dining room is a black and white picture on the sideboard of a young woman and young man. It looks like Angela, but it turns out to be a picture of her parents, when they were young. The picture is the cover of a book – pictures from their 50th wedding anniversary.
Angela’s career stretches from New York to DC. She attended The French Culinary Institute in NY, now called the International Culinary Center. In DC she worked for the food retailer, Whole Foods, as well as taught practical courses about hospitality to high school students, but her love of cooking and comedy never changed. These days she focuses on her growing business as a marketing consultant. Her clients are not all chefs or small food shops. They a include a microgreens farm-to-table company, a subscription service specializing in curly hair, an iconic and apartment/shopping center, to name a few. She has been integral in helping me reboot SoManyBooks, after years of several unsuccessful attempts.
Angela’s lightness and wisdom extends to the books she calls her favorites:
The one book she reads and reads again is The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher.
She loved Bossypants by Tina Fey and Amy Sedaris’ book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
Note From a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwouachi figures prominently on her favorite’s list
And a non-cooking book, Becoming, by Michelle Obama
Walking around the front rooms of her home, I see Setting the Table by Danny Meyer and The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. There is a stack of thin volumes that are from the 1950s, advising women how to do everything from Dinner Parties to Decorating. I see A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain and Bravetart by Stella Parks.
I ask Angela if she reads any books other than about food and cooking. She looks around and says, “Does Brene Brown count?”
Spending the day with Angela was a day well spent. I leave with tactile memories of comfort, and a Drake’s soft ears. I also know I will never quite look at a recipe again as just a recipe.