Well, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve been interviewed on a podcast. It’s a relatively new arrival, From Scratch with Michael Ruhlman. Michael is the author of widely respected, deeply researched books about cooking and chefs. He’s an excellent writer and a wonderful conversationalist, truly interested in what the other person has to say, and helping them say it.
The concept of From Scratch is really interesting. In each episode, Michael talks with two people, a chef and a person from outside the food world, on a theme, exploring connections between two worlds and two minds. The podcast is beautifully written and edited, and Michael knows a lot of fascinating people. Case in point: my pod-mate for this episode is none other than Thomas Keller. Whoa—I know! We were not interviewed at the same time, so Chef Keller was spared my fan-personing. (I really want to talk about how he does that deep-fried soft-boiled egg.)
Our theme—my buddy Thomas’s and mine—was Awareness, in cooking and in knitting.
How this lovely adventure came about: Michael is married to a knitter, novelist Ann Hood. I first came to know her work through her 2008 novel, The Knitting Circle, which is based on Ann’s real-life experience of learning to knit as a way to navigate through unfathomable grief after losing her young daughter to virulent illness. I’ve recommended The Knitting Circle countless times to friends in the throes of deep loss; it’s right up there with Rosanne Cash’s album Black Cadillac on my own short list of things that are a present help in times of trouble. When Michael was looking for a non-chef to talk to about awareness, it was Ann who said he should talk to a knitter, and kindly sent him to me.
For me, one of the pleasures of our conversation was Michael’s genuine interest in knitting. I didn’t feel that pat on the head that I sometimes do when conversing with a non-knitter about knitting. He gets it, in part from living with someone for whom knitting has been such a touchstone, I’m sure, but also because cooking does some of the same things for him that knitting does for me.
One funny thing that doesn’t come through in the edit is that Michael and I kept saying “Ann Shayne” and “Ann Hood,” or “my Ann” and “my Ann,” to keep our two Anns straight. I bet the Anns’ ears were burning!
My thanks to Michael and His Ann for inviting me. I had a great time.