The reading went well. I wasn’t sure it would. It didn’t occur to me until earlier this week that maybe this was one of those events attended only by the friends of people performing, who cheer for their friends and then leave. I didn’t even tell anyone about the reading until the day beforehand, and so I imagined myself trying to shout over drunken friends of others, or perhaps hearing after my reading, instead of applause, the sounds of chirping crickets.
Hardley anyone I knew was there, except for Matt and Ted Lee, who also were reading, the host, David Leite, and food writer, publicist, sci-fi geek and generally cool person Jennifer Anderson.
But I read to an attentive and appreciative full house (the place only had about 50 seats, but it was still full).
All of the readings were genuinely entertaining. I cannot find a link to Lisa Smith Arnold in all of cyberspace, but she’s a very entertaining writer who regaled us with the childhood tale of trauma induced by the prospect of eating tongue. Her description of the beef tongue, garnished with parsley, and the reaction it elicited from her and her sister were most fun to listen to.
Next, Elissa Altman told a hilarious account of her struggle to make a decent sponge cake that was kosher for Passover in a story she called “The Foundation of Ancient Egypt.” You see, she was watching The Ten Commandments while trying to make the sponge cake. She was struck by the resemblance of her batter to the mud that Charlton Heston was trying to make into bricks. She posited the theory that the pyramids were so tough, heavy and enduring because they were, in fact, made from matzo meal.
Susan Hodara told the sensual tale of her nightly vanilla ice cream cone. It was, unfortunately, interrupted by two people who didn’t seem to know that if you are late to a performance you must wait until an appropriate pause before entering the room and taking a seat. This particular couple was in late middle age and thus old enough to know better.
Jennifer Anderson speculated that the woman in the couple was insane.
At any rate, they were seated and all the errant cell phones seemed finally to have been turned off by the time I read my two short pieces: Taking the Inbred Bull by the Horns and The Circus.
Next came David Leite, who very funnily mocked his own self-delight in discovering that he was a supertaster.
He was followed by Adam Roberts, who, in the telling of his tale, "The Food Bully," charmed the crowd with reference to his own past of being picked on and cracked me up when he told of his friend describing him as the "Mussolini of mayo."
Gary Allen, who manages this site and also is working on selling a recipe book for humans (that is to say one on cannibalism), read a story about eating spicy calamari in Chinatown, followed by a brief recipe that he called something like Rockefeller Rocky Mountain oysters, but more clever than that, which involved preparation of human testicles.
The Lee brothers rounded it out with "Iowa State Fair" in which they trailed a cookbook writer as he attempted to win cookoffs at said event.
After the event, I went to introduce myself to Adam, who it turns out lives in my neighborhood, and then chatted with the Lees, whom Adam hadn’t met. They realized that they had not mentioned that evening which of them was Matt, and which was Ted.
Ted wears glasses, is the one most likely to wear a bow tie and somehow has a demeanor that is simultaneously more casual and more formal than his quieter brother, Matt. Both of them have the great quality of answering questions in ways you would not expect.
Q: "What do you do?"
A: "Sell boiled peanuts."
I decided to rest on the laurels of a successful reading and dine quietly and alone. I took Adam up on his recommendation and went to Palo Santo in Park Slope, where I had a chicory salad with blue cheese, almond and mango, and then a thick goat stew called seco de chivo. I washed it down with a couple of glasses of Chilean Carmenère