The Austin Chronicle

Smitten Kitchen at BookPeople

By Melanie Haupt, December 1, 2012, 10:37am, On the Range

Doing their part to help boost the local economy by buying copies of The Smitten Kitchen cookbook by the armful at $35 a pop, hundreds of Austinites came out to BookPeople last night to see the author of said cookbook (and the blog that spawned it,, Deb Perelman.

Because she was suffering from laryngitis, saying, “I left my voice in Connecticut,” Perelman opted to skip straight to answering questions from the audience, from fans wondering how Perelman learned to cook (“I haven’t learned to cook yet! It’s an ongoing thing,” she laughed) to a particularly tenacious reader who wanted Perelman to troubleshoot a lemon tart recipe gone wrong. One reader in particular commented that using the cookbook, as much as she likes it, made her miss the ability to interact with Perelman via the site with feedback, questions, and so on. Indeed, the comments section is a great opportunity for readers to troubleshoot recipes, bounce ideas off each other, suggest adaptations, and ask Perelman clarifying questions, most of which she does answer. “If I ever get to blog again,” said Perelman, who has been on her book tour for a good month now, “I want to have some sort of function on the site that allows people to give feedback on the recipes in the book.”

Side note: Interested parties can cook along with me on my personal blog, where I have invited folks to participate in Smitten Saturdays. The purpose is to cook our way through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, posting every other Saturday, and share our experiences, foibles, and successes with Perelman’s recipes, many of which cannot be found on her blog. Today, I’m posting about the Wild Mushroom Tart found on page 95 of the cookbook. To join in, check out the calendar, make the recipe, post about it on your blog, then leave the link to your post in the comments section of the corresponding entry on my blog. I’ll do a roundup of all participants’ posts on the following Monday. Don’t have a blog? That’s fine, too. You can tweet a picture and your comments to me at @boxingoctopus, including the hashtag #smittensaturdays, and I’ll be sure to include you in the roundups!

After taking questions from the audience for about 40 minutes, Perelman decamped to the third floor and began signing books, often in stacks of five, and chatting personably with everyone, answering questions she hadn’t had time to answer downstairs and posing for pictures with anyone who asked. While it’s a good problem to have, after two hours of signing, she had only gone through groups A-C, with groups D-F (easily another 100 people, if not more) still waiting to get their cookbooks inscribed when I departed at 9:30pm. I can only imagine that Perelman signed books until closing time, for a crowd that rivaled that of Pioneer Woman’s event a couple of years ago. The difference is that Perelman’s recipes are waaaaay more reliable and much more sophisticated, so here’s hoping that more and more people become Smitten the way hundreds of Austinites already have.

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