Day 221 of 365
This morning, I met Erin French–the famous Erin French, from The Lost Kitchen.
This is how it happened…
I first have to share that I have adored Erin French’s work for years. I discovered her when one of my dearest friends in the world gave me the first edition of Erin’s cookbook. I made and loved so many of the recipes in that book. I buy cookbooks all the time. They are my treasures. I have at least one or two favorite recipes from about 40 books, but I loved everything I made from Erin’s book. It’s on my Favorite Cookbooks List in Volume I of the Farmer-ish print annual.
I have friends who have won the lottery and have had dinner at The Lost Kitchen. I have not, but I try every year. If you are not familiar with the lottery of The Lost Kitchen, in April, you can send in a postcard to be selected from like a hundred thousand postcards. If your postcard is selected, you get a reservation. I’ll never stop trying. I’m too much of an optimist.
We do not watch much television, but I had heard about Erin French’s television series, also called The Lost Kitchen. I wanted to watch is so badly, but we just don’t do tv very much and only have one streaming service. But, this year, as I was trying to think about what I could watch while on the treadmill every day (it’s so boring to me, but I know it’s good for me in the long winter), Ron said, “get yourself a treat for Christmas.” I hate to add another streaming service to our monthly bills because you know how those things add up, but I was like, “Yeah, I’m gonna do it, and I’m getting The Lost Kitchen.”
Ron said it was a great idea because he knows how much I have been wanting to watch this series. So I started watching this week and fell in love immediately. I am only in Season 1, but the show covers her cooking and going to farms and the wonderful women she works with. It’s fantastic, and I rarely like television shows. I cannot recommend this one enough if you like farms and cooking and the beauty that is Maine.
The first thing that happened was that I became aware, after watching the show, that I needed a team of women helping me if Farmer-ish was ever going to succeed. It’s hard though when you have to ask for volunteer help. I know everyone’s time is precious. Plus, the journal has a fantastic advisory board, and they always help me so much. Still, I decided I needed a real partner in the editing, arrangement, and submissions. Plus, maybe we could be like a mini version of Erin’s wonderful team and do great things.
So I called a dear and brilliant friend, and she has agreed to co-edit with me, and I am over-the-moon thankful. She is smart, wise, and has such an eye for beauty. So that worked out, and I am hopeful. I’ll introduce her at the first of the year. Anyway, thank you, The Lost Kitchen.
Yesterday, I had another great idea. After finishing another episode, I decided that I had to do anything a small publisher could to get Erin French to see one of our print annuals. They are beautiful, and the writing is good–oh, and one of our essays made a pretty prestigious list this week–so I had to try something to see if I could get her to carry a copy in her shop next year (she carries books). I went online to see if the mailing address to The Lost Kitchen was listed–and it was. I was going to mail a copy and write a letter and hope and pray. But then I saw that the online shop wasn’t just online. They are open two days a week during the holiday season, and today was one of those days! I also discovered that Freedom was only about an hour’s drive for me! I was like, “I’m going down there and leaving a copy of this book with someone from her team.”
I asked Ron if he thought this was a crazy plan. “Well,” he said, “I think it’s crazy because it’s supposed to sleet and snow tomorrow.” I was sad. I thought my plan was divinely inspired. How could it be divinely inspired if there was going to be a snow storm?
“But you should check,” he said. “You may have time if you go early.”
I checked, and this was correct. I would have time if I went early, but I had grading to do. I would have to get up extra early, grade, and then drive myself down to Freedom.
I have no idea how I was thinking this bravely. This is not my usual state of being. I struggle too much with people anxiety to be running a business, but I believe in this journal. It has helped a lot of people I know find their voices as writers, and it has inspired others to grow some of their own food or support their local food system.
So, friends, I drove myself down to Freedom. I timidly went into the front of the store and asked if I could possibly speak to a manager. I was expecting to maybe have the chance to speak to a member of Erin French’s team, but the very kind woman said, “Erin’s upstairs. You can just go talk to her.”
“Like Erin, Erin?” I asked.
The woman smiled really big and said, “Yes, that Erin.”
Obviously, this was both wonderful and terrible to me–wonderful that I was going to get to meet her and terrible that I was going to have to think of something to say. There was no time for plan. I am far too introverted for these kinds of situations, but I could not turn back.
I went upstairs, and there she was, just working in her beautiful shop. The shop was so lovely, and the whole thing was so surreal that I got a little teary. I adore her aesthetic. She is an artist with food and flowers and apparently shop decor. I waited in line, and when it was my turn at the counter, I told her that I had some books for her, and I gave her both volumes of the annual and my letter. She thanked me and then just chatted for a minute, and I mostly did okay. I mean, mostly. For an introvert. She asked where I was from, and when I told her, she said we were neighbors. She was just how I hoped she would be.
And, then, of course, I had to buy a few things because I wanted to buy all of the things. I really needed a new rolling pin, so I got one from her shop! It’s beautiful. I also got two books–one for me and one for one of you. I’m going to do a giveaway with a signed copy of Erin French’s beautiful cookbook for the Solstice. I am so excited our online issue will be back for the Winter Solstice! Here’s the cool thing, when Erin asked me if I wanted her cookbook signed to someone, I told her no and that I was planning to use the book as a giveaway for our readers. She very kindly then said, “Well, let’s fancy it up extra then.” And she put a beautiful postcard and ribbon bookmark inside the book.
She was so kind. I was so grateful.
Obviously, Erin may not have time to even look at the annuals, much less be willing to carry them in her shop next year, but I am going to cross my fingers. In the meantime, I am going to pass on my lovely day to readers in the form of a giveaway for the Solstice. If you leave a comment here or on Facebook, you will be entered to win. I’ll announce the winner on the night of the Solstice.
Thank you for reading my little story about that time I met Erin French.