The Poor Man's Feast Shortlist
Susan and I have been away for the last two weeks, visiting our beloved midcoast Maine as we always do this time of year. I made it a point to stay away from the digital screens as best I could; I don’t always do this, but this year I felt the need to look up at sky and sea and mountain, and absorb as much light as I possibly could before the days sharply shorten, which they already have. We had visits from my dear college pal (now suddenly a grandmother; aren’t we still 19 and hiking around the Berner Oberland? Apparently not.) and saw our local friends. I am delighted to say that I will be back up there in January (January! Maine! Lord!) for a two week writing residency in a space overlooking Rockport Harbor, and I am already counting the days.
This week, I am settling back into my regular work schedule, but my brain is still very much in the north country and on the hiking trails, and so what I have to share with you is particularly regional.
1- All things Sara Jenkins: Sara Jenkins is one of the best chefs in Maine, in New York (where I first ate her food, at Porsena and Porchetta, both now sadly closed), in Italy (her family grows olives and presses spectacular oil), and, frankly, anywhere. The chef/owner of the mind-blowingly great Nina June in Rockport, Sara is also an incredible cookbook author (apple meet tree: her mother is Nancy Harmon Jenkins, who coined the phrase The Mediterranean Diet with her eponymous cookbook, which was one of the first I ever owned) and let’s just say she’s been roundly blessed by the culinary angels. I love —- love —- her Olives and Oranges, which came out in 2008 and is an absolute classic if you love authentic flavors of the Mediterranean and the Levant. After eating at Nina June twice in two weeks, and once at Sara’s house for dinner (!), I’m re-reading it cover to cover.
2- The Maine 2022 Lit Fest: I’ve been a longtime teacher of memoir for Maine Writers and Publishers, the amazing organization behind The Maine Lit Fest. It is absolutely worth a drive north to attend any one of these free great literary events led (primarily) by Maine writers including Richard Russo, Lily King, Leigh Ellis, Rebecca Traister, and Kerri Arsenault. Some of these events will be live-streamed, so you can be anywhere.