October 7th, 2009 Kate Williams | Special Section Stories
 

Ivy Manning

     
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You really should read: The Farm to Table Cookbook

Freelance food writer, cooking instructor, personal chef and recently prolific cookbook author Ivy Manning is certainly a hard-hitter in Portland’s locavore food scene. Passionate about seasonal cooking, Manning recently published The Farm to Table Cookbook, a collection of recipes featuring some of the Northwest’s best chefs. In deference to all of her vegetarian and vegan foodie friends, including her husband, Mr. Tofu, she has also recently published The Adaptable Feast, a cookbook full of meals for everyone at the table. 1 pm Sunday, Oct. 11, with Shannon Borg. McMenamins Stage.

What’s your personal writing ritual?

A big basket and a wander through one of our farmers markets for inspiration. Then I put on SomaFM’s “Groove Salad” radio and sit at my Mac.

What are your favorite themes to write about?

Ethnic grocery stores, mashed potatoes, how bad a cook my mother is, underappreciated vegetables.

The most beautiful word in the English language is: Abattoir.

Actually, it’s a French word, but it is gorgeous and we don’t use it enough.

What authors made you want to pick up a pen in the first place, and why?

MFK Fisher, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, Paula Wolfert. When I first discovered them, a whole world opened up. It was food writing that wasn’t just recipes. Their writing takes you to the place and conveys the geeky excitement I feel when I travel and go to grocery stores there, or try new exotic foods I’ve never heard of. It’s not the how of food, but the why. Why certain cultures use a tandoor, the history of argan oil, that sort of thing. They make food writing 3-D, or Jeffrery Alford says, “F8 and be there.”

Fight Club time: If you could fight one author (or critic), who would it be and why?

Probably Anthony Bourdain. He uses so many “tough guy” clichés, I have a sneaking urge to beat him up and make him cry. Plus, I’m jealous he gets to go to so many cool places in the world.

Name a book you think is highly overrated. Be honest.

Jane Eyre. I had to read it, like, eight times between high school and college. We got it: It was rainy, you ate gruel, you fell in love with a bad man who was actually a just a misunderstood good man. And the ghost in the attic? Naw, just one of his ex-girlfriends. Sigh.

Dream project:

Travel the globe interviewing grandmothers from every different country and write a book with their dumpling recipes. Every culture has them.

Most recent nightmare:

I am teaching a cooking class and none of the ingredients are there.

Your cure for writer’s block:

Walk my greyhound, Mini, around the block.

Pessimistic question: Will you keep writing even after people stop reading?

People are reading my stuff now?

Cautiously optimistic question: Obama? Discuss.

Give the guy a chance. He’s the first man in power in a LONG time who has common sense. Maybe that’s why SOME people vilify him, he makes them look stupid.

Share one thing you’ve had to change in your everyday life thanks to our current recession.

Honestly, as a freelance writer and cookbook author, it’s kinda always a recession, so not much. You don’t do what I do to get rich…

Please paste a short paragraph from a story, poem, article, blog post, etc., you’re currently working on:

From my latest blog post about my recent travels in Ireland and my encounter with the best mashed potatoes in the whole wide world:

“...Directly to our right, seated at the bar, was an older gentleman with grayish hair slicked back, a three-piece Donegal tweed suit, dark sunglasses, and a glower. He couldn’t look more like Samuel Beckett if he tried. The weight of the world seemed to be upon him, he talked to no one, though everyone in the pub seemed to know each other. Instead, he just stared into his pint, head in hands. He moved only to go out for a smoke. When he returned, but dad whispered to me, “Ah, glad he’s back, old boy. I thought he’d gone to the parking lot to blow his brains out.”

I could go on forever about the Thatch. It’s everything you want from a country pub, plus the food was amazing. I mean amazing. Dad reveled in an apple-stuffed pork loin glazed in cider, Mr. Tofu liked his mushroom pastry thingy, and my tandoori prawns were de-lovely. And then, without a word, a bar maid plunked a large gratin dish of mashed potatoes swathed in cheddar, the edges still popping and spitting with butter, on the table. It comes with every meal, apparently. Dad took a bite, sheepishly looked at me and said, “Oh, Ive.”

 
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