Okay, let’s get a little personal.
Sometimes I say the right things and sometimes I say the wrong things. Don’t we all? And then, there are times when the right words tumble out of my mouth at the worst possible time. Worst. It was almost a year ago and it felt like way too much honesty. And since I really want to share some of the best news of my food life with you, I’m going tell you what happened.
Let me set the (food) scene:
I was in my favorite city in the entire world – the real city of lights, New York – during was turned out to be the winter storm we would call Nemo.
I was on a small platform with three of my food world colleagues talking about Eat Boutique to a hotel conference room full of cookbook authors and cookbook publishers and general industry folks.
I was so aware that this panel discussion was being broadcasted in real-time on the Internet because my obnoxious sweet husband was tweeting and texting and generally trying to get me to just relax.
Despite his smart-aleck tweets, my husband is my unwavering partner and he has a way of getting to the heart of what worries me. I was so nervous, not quite sure of what to expect from my fellow panelists nor what the reception would be to this food blogger turned food business lady.
His advice resonates with me still, “Just tell your story, be honest, be yourself.”
I think you all know me by now, but let me remind you: telling the truth is sort of my business. I made a pact to myself when the idea of this food gift blog and business was just a gibberish-like whisper in my ear. The pact went something like this: If someone asks my opinion, I have to tell the truth. It’s okay to offer an absolute “yes” or “no” if that’s what I feel. It’s even better to say, “I don’t know” if it’s the truth.
I think we all suppress the truth fairly regularly. When someone asks, “How are things going?” many of us say “great” – even when it’s not so true, even when we’d rather just run home and hide under the covers for a few weeks. It’s easier and loads more comfortable to fake it then it is to explain all the reasons why things may suck.
Over the last seven years – Eat Boutique is indeed turning seven this year and, YES, there will be cake – I’ve tasted thousands of food products from both up-and-coming and established makers. Some of these products have been stellar, the reason to wake up early to enjoy the last slice with coffee before everyone else shows up, and, in some cases, the reason to get on a plane to some far off land.
I sample everything before I sell it in the shop, everything. I taste it before I hand-pack it into food gifts that ship all over the world and before I hand-write personal messages to people like, you know, your Mom. So I’m quite used to saying “this doesn’t work for me,” saying “this is amazing,” or saying, “I don’t know, let’s keep in touch” (with kindness) when tasting all that goodness. I really want the recipient of all of these food gifts to fall in love too.
But sitting in my New York City moment, I was about to make what I thought was the biggest mistake ever. I was about to keep my pact to myself.
A woman in the very back of the room asked, “Would you ever want to write a cookbook?”
I remember thinking to myself, the right answer is yes, the right answer is yes, come on, just say yes.
But here’s what I said instead, “You know, I don’t know.”
I don’t know? I don’t know? Who says, “I don’t know” in front of 100+ cookbook authors and publishers?
Yep, that was me, crazy me.
Many people found me later to ask me why I didn’t want to write a cookbook. I gently reminded them that “I don’t know” is different from “no” and I just needed time, time to really research and time to decide how I could do it right. I also needed time to consider whether I had a story to share in cookbook format.
Well, I spent half of 2013 writing a bit of my experience to paper, exploring precisely why I love hand-packing your gifts, and, most importantly, assuring myself that food, in all its forms and delivery paths, is truly a gift. I also spent a lot of time talking to my Mom, the woman who wanted me to write a book when I was a mere tween, skipping out on gym (so boring) to work on the student newspaper (so fun). Moms are just wonderful that way, right?
Almost one year later from that panel session, I’m finally able to share that, oh my goodness, I decided to just leap!
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish my first-ever cookbook titled Food Gift Love in the fall of 2015.
And it gets better. I get to share part of this journey with the most amazing photographer, Heidi Murphy. She asked me to lunch via Twitter three years ago and has become my favorite person with whom to move old wood furniture, find the best light, taste test sparkling cocktails, drool over pretty surfaces and take rich photos full of warmth and depth. She’s also become one of my closest friends.
But I haven’t told you the very best part. Wait for it…
Remember that woman in the back of the room who asked that question? She’s going to be my editor.
“I don’t know” didn’t scare her. And it shouldn’t scare you either. Not knowing was the perfect path to my next big Eat Boutique adventure.
So, we’re writing a cookbook, people. You’ve permitted me to take up this little space on the Internets, to build this tiny business and to freak out as it evolved over the last seven years. You’ve read and shared this blog, ordered from the shop and showed up to our in-person events and, since I’m just putting it all out there, I only have pure appreciation for you.
Thank you, as well, to every contributor who shares their food filled stories on this blog. You all keep me going and inspired every single day. I thank my lucky stars for you. This cookbook is for you, truly.
I plan to fill Food Gift Love with brand new food gift recipes to make, wrap and share with the folks you love. And I plan to include bits and bites from my favorite food makers, folks who have blessed me with their food gifts, their excellence and their energizing stories.
Since you’ve been on this ride with me for so long, I’d really love to make this Food Gift Love cookbook together. I’d love to share the joys, the new ideas, the photos from behind the scenes and the tears that will no doubt emerge when I’m either overwhelmed or over-the-moon excited. I don’t know if I can do this but I’m going to do it anyway and I really do hope you stay on this carousel ride a wee bit longer because food is a gift, best shared.
Photos by Maggie Battista.
Eat Boutique discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers. We share recipes, maker stories and city guides to eating boutique. We host tasting events and markets for food makers, cookbook authors and food fans. We craft seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes and sell individual items that you can order in the Eat Boutique Shop. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.
Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is now focused on opening her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: Recipes That Revamped My Pantry & Made Me Love Me, At Last, will be published by Roost Books/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her first cookbook, Food Gift Love, features more than 100 food gift recipes to make, wrap, and share and is available wherever you find favorite cookbooks.