Miami Book Fair International is this week, culminating in the weekend's street fair and back-to-back author panels. If you're like me, you enjoy all of the Book Fair, but navigate it with special attention to food-related events.
Below is a list of food-related authors and cooking demonstrations at the Book Fair. I've also provided tips on where to eat nearby.
If you can't make it to the Book Fair, the list below still might inspire your next food-related read.
Thursday, 8:00 p.m.
Gopnik is an award-winning essayist for The New Yorker. In his new book, he reflects on our obsession with food and on the culture of eating. If a phrase like "the culture of eating" frightens you, know that Gopnik is a terrific speaker.
I once saw him speak--also about food--at the Key West Literary Festival. As I recall, his talk began with some historical notes; I wondered how long this dry lecture might last. And then, before I knew it, I was drawn in by Gopnik's humorous anecdotes.
Those who heard Gopnik's story about he and his wife's longstanding argument on whether meat should be well-done (on the live storytelling show, The Moth) will probably enjoy this event. Tickets are $12. Chapman Conference Center (Building Three, Second Floor, Room 3210)
Saturday, 11:00 a.m.
The authors discuss their new diet- and nutrition-related books. Ann Byrn also presents a cooking demonstration later in the afternoon (see Cooking Demonstrations below). Wine Theatre at Miami Culinary Institute (415 N.E. Second Avenue)
Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Maricel Presilla traveled to every country in Latin America, researching recipes and techniques for this exhaustive collection.
She joins Raquel Rabade Roque, author of an encyclopedic collection of Cuban recipes that explores the Spanish, Arabian, African, Chinese and other influences on that cuisine. They both present cooking demonstrations as well (see Cooking Demonstrations section below). Room 6100 (Building Six, First Floor, on N.E. Second Ave between Fourth and Fifth Street)
Poet Kevin Young weaves all sorts of intriguing topics into his stories, but food often finds its way into his poetry. His latest collection is an anthology of other poets' work on food, including Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg and Langston Hughes.
Young is great fun to listen to. Same goes for Campbell McGrath and Richard Blanco, who aren't specifically addressing food. Give this talk a chance, even if you don't see yourself as a poetry fan. Room 8303 (Building 8, Third Floor)
Kevin Young reads from his poem, "Aunties" on PBS:
Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
Norman Van Aken, one of Miami's best-known chefs presents a memoir of sorts about his life in Key West. It's where Van Aken first arrived after moving to Florida from Illinois. Although Van Aken is often associated with Miami, it's clear that his heart lives in Key West. He co-wrote the book with his son, Justin, also a chef. Recipes are interspersed with vivid photographs by Penny de los Santos, along with stories about the universe-unto-itself that is Key West. Room 6100 (Building Six, First Floor, on N.E. Second Ave between Fourth and Fifth Street)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Alex Hitz, a fifth generation Southerner, presents his memoir--a collection of stories and recipes about his life cooking for and entertaining guests.
Hedy Goldsmith, the beloved executive pastry chef of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, shares recipes for popular dessert and brunch dishes at Michael's, like jam-filled Pop T's and chocolate caramel peanut bars (a version of a Snickers bar). Room 6100 (Building Six, First Floor, on N.E. Second Ave between Fourth and Fifth Street)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
You may have already heard a lot this year about Julia Child, as this would have been her 100th birthday and celebrations were held all over the country. However, Spitz offers new insights on the beloved chef, teacher and television personality, and on her life before she was a "Child." Room 8501 (Building Eight, Fifth Floor)
Sunday, 12:00 p.m.
If you have limited time and want to see a broad array of food-related authors, this is probably the session for you.
Heather McPherson co-wrote Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida's Farmers, Chefs and Artisans after she and her co-authors took road trips throughout the state, collecting interviews with those who produce our food. Former Food Network Star contestant Yvan Lemoine took a road trip too--of the country--and put together this cookbook of American comfort food aimed at a Spanish-speaking audience.
Liz Gutman and Jen King are Brooklyn-based pastry chefs whose cookbook shows how to make candy--like beer-and-pretzel caramels--at home. They also give a demo (see Cooking Demonstrations) on Sunday. Room 6100 (Building Six, First Floor, on N.E. Second Ave between Fourth and Fifth Street)
Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
Art Freidrich, of Miami's Urban Oasis Project, moderates what should be a fascinating talk with these authors about how our food is produced:
Barry Estabrook's Tomatoland is an exploration of the human and environmental toll of the tomato industry--and he spent time in Florida researching the book. Aaron Bobrow-Strain tells the colorful story behind "boring old white bread."
Stem cell hamburgers? A genetically-engineered lemon-basil-cherry tomato? Josh Schonwold focuses on food futurism--how farmers and foods scientists are going beyond what he calls misguided "foodie fundamentalism." Batten (Building Two, First Floor, Room 2106)
Sunday, 2:00 p.m.
Seamus Mullen on Seamus Mullen's Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better, Hiroko Shimbo on Hiroko's American Kitchen (Cooking with Japanese Flavors) and Norman Van Aken on My Key West Kitchen
This is another jam-packed session that includes Seamus Mullen, chef of the Spanish gastro pub, Tertulia, in New York City. Mullen changed his diet after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and shares his recipes for what he calls "hero food" or healing food. He and Norman Van Aken, who appears for his second Book Fair talk on Sunday, are also cooking a dinner together at Van Aken's restaurant, Tuyo.
Hiroko Shimbo's cookbook is based on six basic sauces and stocks that can be incorporated into American cuisine. She teaches how to incorporate Japanese ingredients into what we eat every day. She also presents a cooking demonstration (see below). Room 6100 (Building Six, First Floor, on N.E. Second Ave between Fourth and Fifth Street)
Cooking demonstrations at the Miami Book Fair are free, but they do require tickets. Once you click on a food demonstration on the Book Fair website, you will see a "reserve" button to the right.
Demonstrations take place at Miami Culinary Institute (the cooking school at Miami Dade College), in the state-of-art Wine Theater demonstration kitchen (415 NE Second Ave.)
Mirrors and flat screens allow everyone in the room to see what the chef is doing. Of course (if all goes well) everyone gets a taste once the food is prepared.
The chefs below also participate in author talks during the fair (listed above).
After all this food talk, you may be hungry; here's a list of where to eat during the Book Fair.
Miami Book Fair International takes place at Wolfson Campus of Miami-Dade College. General admission to the weekend street fair is $8 for adults, $5 for teens and those 62 and over; and free for children 12 and under.