On May 18, the grounds of City Hall and the Post office were filled with the booths, tents and stages of the 4th Annual Gaithersburg Book Festival. This was the first year I had attended, and I was agreeably surprised at its size and activity level. While it doesn’t attract the star power or have the breadth of the National or Baltimore festivals, it was much less crowded than either of them, easier to get to (and park at!) and just as enjoyable, in its modest way.
Checking the author list, by coincidence I already had five books written by authors scheduled to be appearing. Although there were only two cookbook authors scheduled, the variety of featured authors was impressive. I got there early, to have a good seat for King Peggy.
King Peggy is a secretary living in Washington, DC who was appointed ruler of her native village in Ghana. She soon realized that the elders thought that by having a long-distance king, they could continue the corrupt rule they had become accustomed to. Peggy, however, had other plans. She now spends part of the year on both continents, bringing education and running water to the town’s 7,000 souls.
When it came time for lunch, we wandered over to the row of food trucks drawn up on one edge of the grounds. One of them, Red Hook Lobster Pound, tempted me to indulge in a decadent and spendy lobster roll. It was worth the price!
I noticed a woman with a most unusual purse. It was a chicken, and it was rubber. Yes. Yes, it was.
I encountered her again at the used book sale. After I bought my three cookbooks, I remarked on the object on her arm. Her children had given it to her as an appropriate present – she raises laying hens. And yes, she does see the humor of it.
Kitty Kelly spoke about her book on the Kennedy family (and the death threats from Frank Sinatra); Sam Kean talked about popular science writing (he wrote The Violinist’s Thumb); and Pati Jinich wrapped up the day’s presentations with a cooking demo.
She brought along her son, Juju, to help. It was inspiring to watch him pour oil, squeeze limes, and mix the Watermelon, Tomatillo and Mint Salad! Meanwhile, Pati related how she came to make this salad with raw tomatillos, which are not in the Mexican tradition, and other tales of her life and career.
She will be giving a chef demo at the Olney Farmers and Artists Market on July 28. It should be terrific!