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Once upon a story: A lady named Dorie….

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This is not a book review. If you want to read a book review of "Around my French Table" by Dorie Greenspan, then use Google. There are a million reviews and the book just made the New York Times bestseller list and it is Amazon's number one cookbook of 2010.  My verdict on the book: BUY IT. NOW. 

This post is about something totally different.

When I saw a note on FB that read that Dorie Greenspan was coming to NoVa to speak about her new book, I knew I had to go.  I have never met her. And yet, i feel as though I know her….

I went into Borders, where her reading was, filled with nerves. I held on tightly to my copy of her book "Around my French Table." I was hoping she could sign it. I was also hoping she wouldn't ask me if I had cooked from it. I had not. I have never cooked anything even remotely French in my life and I was totally sure I would fail.

The room was filled with Dorie lovers and I sat in a row quietly.. looking around and wondering where she was. I could not believe, could not imagine I was going to come face to face with Dorie.

Why you ask? It isnt just because she is one of the most amazing writers I know. It is much more.  In 2004, I had just quit my corporate job to start writing. In truth, I had no idea what I was doing.  I was overwhelmed, I was scared, I was petrified. I was sending out query letters (read pathetic emails) but not getting anywhere. Then, someone introduced me to Dorie. This person gav DSC_1343 e me Dorie's email and told me to writer her for advice. I did not realizing quite how big and famous she was. She did not hesitate, not one bit.  She talked patiently to me.. advising me on how to pitch, on what the freelance writing life was about. On how to focus my efforts. She had read a piece of mine that she liked and was very complimentary. After I got of the phone with her, I called another friend to tell her about this lovely conversation I had with another writer. My friend screamed so loudly into the phone, I think she damaged my ear. "OMG, you talked to Dorie. Do you have any idea who she is?" I did not know how big she was. But my friend explained. I was grateful then. But today, six years later, i am more than just grateful. Dorie talked to me, a writer with one clip to her name. She encourage me, gave me hope and made it possible for me to continue. How do you really thank someone for that?

 

My hands were sweaty as I hugged my copy of Dorie's book. I did not feel worthy at the moment, I have to say, because as I mentioned, I hadnt cooked from the book. I did not feel I had the skills. Then, I saw her. As beautiful in person as she is in all the photos I had seen of her. She was walking up the side of the room with her family and the Border's staff member who was walking with her stepped up to the podium and got ready to introduce her. As soon as she opened her mouth, Dorie interrupted. "Stop, stop. I see someone I must hug before I start. I have to."

I could not believe she had recognized me. She came up and gave me the biggest hug. I cried. I held my book closer. She had recognized me. In this world of millions and billions, there are people like her. I vowed that day that I would pay her generosity forward and help people who I did not know and those who were just starting out as well. I think she would be proud. 

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She stepped up to the podium and began to speak of her love of French food, of why she loved going to Paris, of her experiences with a cheese monger, a French butcher, a random person in a French grocery store. The more she spoke, the more mesmerized I became. Her love of French food reflected my own love of Indian cuisine. I kept thinking if she loved the food so much and if this book is like her others, then surely even someone with no French cooking skills like me could cook from it. Surely. 

It was as if she heard my thoughts. She began to talk about this pumpkin recipe in the book. A pumpkin that was stuffed with cheese and bread and cream and thyme and cooked until it literally melted. 

 

I could do that, I thought. Even I could do that. 

 

She kept on talking and I found myself getting lost in her world. And then, i realized i had to leave. My ride was there to pick me up. And the line to get my book signed was really long. 

As I left, i realized that the reason the Universe had not allowed for Dorie to sign my book was that I hadn't earned it yet. 

The next day at home, I decided to make her pumpkin recipe. I followed the recipe (which you can find here) I felt Dorie with me each step of the way. I was back in Borders listening to her talking about the way the French eat, how cheese should be sliced and truly all the amazing things you can do with a stuffed pumpkin. 

Then my dish was ready and I served it to my family. 

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My kids and hubby are used to trying new recipes all the time since I am always trying new things. My son asked whose recipe this was. "Well, you see," I told him, "Once upon a time, there was this amazing lady named Dorie Greenspan….."

Now, I have cooked several wonderful dishes from the book. And i ask out loud with great pleasure and pride: Dorie, will you sign my book?

___

Dorie Greenspan's wonderful publisher has agreed to giveaway one copy of "Around my French Table." To win it, tell me why you love her. 

I will chose a winner at random and post the result here on Nov13th at 5:00 pm

 

 

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Comments

  1. Just found your blog. Great site! Wow, you’ve met Dorie! That’s really, really awesome! I love her book, Baking From My Home To Yours! There are lots of things to love about Dorie, I do not know her personally, but I love the way she writes her cookbooks, they are really easy to understand, it is like listening to her right next to you. Dorie always gives out the right advice and tips which are really extremely helpful especially when it is the first time I’m trying out a new kind of recipe which is totally new to me! Each time when I bake from one of her recipes, I have the confidence to do right because all her recipes that I have tried so far have proven to be a success. I’m really looking forward to her latest book, Around My French Table, which I’m hoping to buy as soon as my budget allows, as it is very expensive over here! But then, I think it is worth it! Looking at the postings on “French Fridays with Dorie” sometimes leaves me very frustated, since I do not have this fantastic book, I’m not able to try them out. Having a copy of this book, would be the answer to my dreams, there’s even a space reserved on my bookshelf next to BFMHTY!

  2. Hi, Monica. I really enjoyed your post about DG. The reason I am a big fan of hers is that all of her recipes are clear, detailed, engagingly written, and versatile, with a number of options in most for creating different versions. Her baking recipes, in particular, are some of the best I’ve ever tried, too.

    Thanks,

    Dan

  3. (not sure if this is a duplicate comment so feel free to delete if it is…)

    I love Dorie for exactly the reasons you describe – she does not act like a big important famous writer. She has taken the time to comment on my blog, respond to my comments on hers and will actually interact with you on Twitter (she walked me through a pâte brisée recently!). She is kind and giving and an amazing writer. If I were a quarter as good a writer as she is I would be happy…

  4. I was fortunate enough to meet Dorie at BlogHer’s food conference this year and was immediately struck by how down to earth and approachable she was. Not only is she a fabulous cook and author, but a genuinely nice person. I’m hoping to attend her book signing in a town nearby this month.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I like Dorie because, as you said, she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She is authentic and has integrity. When she writes, she makes me love what she loves (much as you do, Monica)! Thank you for introducing many of your readers to Dorie!

  6. This is the first time I’ve visited your blog and I’ve got to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading this post and your style of writing Monica. I too am a Dorie Greenspan fan and had the pleasure of meeting her at a book signing in my area. I do believe she is one of the kindest women I’ve ever met. I treasure what she wrote in my book that day and it now sits on my kitchen counter like a prize. I am also very proud to say that Dorie has a piece of my artwork in her kitchen as well. How great is that?

  7. Monica,
    Your genuine affection for Dorie and her work is echoed all across the world, really. I haven’t met her personally like you, although she has “shared herself” with me on my blog and through email. I participate in the TWD baking group & FFWD, both groups for her books. Over the last couple of years she has generously shared herself with the members and never expected anything in return. That’s just the way she is, I believe. Yes, I think she also “pays it forward” in the generosity once shared with her by Julia. What goes around comes around. Thank you for writing and thank you Dorie for all your encouragement both in word and in the kitchen.
    AmyRuth

  8. What a great story of how you know Dorie! Having briefly spoken with her at a class and signing, I can easily see how warm and helpful she must have been when you first talked on the phone. Amazing-looking pumpkin dish too!

  9. What a wonderful story! I met Dorie when she had her pop-up shop in NYC, and when I said I was a food writer she stepped aside and gave me a good 15 minutes of undivided attention. She seems to be a truly generous person–but so are you, Monica. You’ve been nothing but helpful to me since we first met, and I so appreciate it.

  10. Reading Paris Sweets is like catching up with an old friend who’s just returned from the most fabulous vacation you wish you’d gone on too. She’s someone I wish I could meet someday!

  11. I don’t need this book, already have it, but just want to join the chorus that I am a Dorie fan and LOVE this post. The pumpkin looks great, too. Brava Monica!

  12. Sigrid Trombley says:

    “But today, six years later, i am more than just grateful. Dorie talked to me, a writer with one clip to her name. She encourage me, gave me hope and made it possible for me to continue. How do you really thank someone for that?”

    How do you thank someone like that? Exactly as you’ve promised to do, and already do, Monica — pay it forward. By sharing yourself and what you love with others, you are thanking Dorie Greenspan and everyone like her whom you’ve encountered. Who knows when the next Dorie Greenspan will appear on the scene, thanks in part, to some kindness you’ve shown to her.

  13. Sigrid Tromblehy says:

    Monica, you wrote, “Now, I have cooked several wonderful dishes from the book. And i ask out loud with great pleasure and pride: Dorie, will you sign my book?”

    I think you already do have her signature, Monica. It’s on your heart.

    Your blog piece today brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

  14. Laviza Shariff says:

    A beautiful, heartfelt essay about Dorie. I like the fact that she is humble and willing to encourage new writers; it’s so easy to be competitive and “look down your nose at newbies”, so to speak. I just met Dorie recently at the
    NY Times Book Signing and Food Tasting in Chelsea Market, and she really took the time to meet and greet all her fans, genuinely.

    I would love to have a copy of this book, as my close friend Sara ( who has a gorgeous blog, One Tribe Gourmet) has recommended it highly to me. I would love to try out Dorie’s recipes; I enjoy learning and trying out different recipes – it brings out the creative diva in me ;)

    Wishing you continued success, Monica!

  15. I love Dorie because she he books are so approachable & have such wonderful ideas. I make her buttermilk pancakes from Pancakes, olive oil cake from Dessert by Pierre, chocolate madeleines from Chocolate Desserts, punishments from Paris Sweets & would love to cook french food from this latest edition.

  16. Such a touching read! Dorie has touched so many lives and taught us the marvels of food in such a simplistic and approachable manner. I can only imagine that her dynamism stems from her amiable personality and true passion for what she does. She is in total love with her vocation and her dedication shows in the pages of her books.

  17. I was at that NoVa reading and witnessed that lovely moment of recognition, now made so much lovelier by hearing the backstory. Thank you for sharing.

  18. I heart Dorie, too. She makes me feel I could make anything she can. I read her blog everyday.
    How wonderful your meeting with Dorie.
    I would love to win the book.
    Best wishes,
    BarbaraG

  19. After reading your blog I went to the store and started reading Dorie’s book. Well. I start feeling all those warm fuzzy feelings. . . Memories of cooking French food with my mom, who is Irish. (The Irish tend to love all things French – there are also a lot of Irish people with French names – a hold-over from when they weren’t allowed to have Irish names)I think of this as a passive aggressive anti-English sentiment that has really helped to improve Irish cuisine.
    But, back to the warm memories. . . My mom and to this day love reading cookbooks. Each year we give cookbooks, show off our newly acquired treasures, and look through the old ones. For the past two years for Christmas my sisters and I have received CDs with the images of our family recipes that she has been archiving, I fervently hope this trend continues.
    I like Dorie’s book because the way she writes is similar to the way you write about food. It is the way I think about food, the way I talk about food. My fiancée once said that “all the people you are closest with REALLY love food”. And that is true. My youngest brother and I, as he was going through those teenage years, we barely discussed anything else. My oldest sister even became a cook. Some of my favorite memories with my two older brothers are from when I went to visit them in California, and they introduced me to their favorite restaurants – Vietnamese, Thai, Sushi Stands. (They had even found a real NY style bagel shop!) To this day, all six of us kids, we bond over food.
    The way you and Dorie write reminds me of all those memories. Dorie’s writing reminds me more strongly of my mother, of growing up in her kitchen, of cooking in it with her, with my oldest sister teaching me the tricks she was learning in culinary school, of teaching my baby brother how to make real French Onion Soup. It brings back those memories and smells, that warmth.
    Now, as I learn about cooking new foods with my Indian landlady and my Pilipino soon-to-be family members, those older scents and memories are more nostalgic. I eat the hearty, rich, and cheesy foods of my childhood less now. Making the exciting new, and healthier, Indian dishes more often. But especially now as the holiday season approaches the foods of my childhood call to me. I think it must be time to start baking, again.

  20. This story sums up everything I could say as to why I love Dorie. I am totally intimidated by French cooking. Yet, I know her cookbook could do the trick. If anyone could do it, Dorie could. I would LOVE to win the book!

  21. Please do not enter me in the contest, since I already have a copy of the book, but I wanted to chime in and say I love her, too. She was the picture of graciousness at BlogHer Food, and I continue to see her sphere of loving influence all over the blogosphere. What a marvelous woman.

  22. Grant wins! Please email me for a copy of the book. I appreciate all the notes here and yes, Dorie ROCKS. And Dorie, if you ever read this, I need a signature. :-)

  23. I’m reading this outside of Milan, on my way back to Annapolis. Why do I love Dorie? because she is kind, kind, kind. She did so much for you and she answered a tweet from me. I was in awe because I KNEW how big she was but had seen her answer other peoples questions.

    btw, you can cook for ME anytime! I suspect I am old enough to fit your parental category. :)

  24. Thank you for that beautiful post about Doriel. I am taking bets that many foodies love Dorie, like I do, from her essence. Dorie has connected with each of us personally, whether she has ever written a line to us, personally. I read her books and they are not only cookbooks. They are Dorie, body and soul.

    One day, someone named, Dorie, left a lovely comment on my blog about some cookies. I didn’t give it a thought until a few months later when in the middle of the night, I sat up, and said, “That was the real Dorie.”

    The idea that she stopped by my blog. I am in two baking groups for Baking From My Home to Yours. That is the only way, I can imagine, she found me but found me, she did. Once, I realized who had left that sweet note, I was in even more awe of this woman’s talents and loving ways.

    I think, I had better stop writing.

  25. Lovely article on Dorie Greenspan. I was fortunate to interview her for the Five Questions on the 501c3 non profit literary magazine named the Wild River Review. Quite revealing actually!

    Cheers! wb

  26. It is a pure joy to read this post Monica. Thanks for tagging this in your other post on Dorie. By the middle of the post, I had tears in my eyes as I was with you in that room when Dorie hugged you.

    Thanks for taking me along.

    Siri

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