Librarians Have Appetites!

Why would a food writer attend a librarian’s convention?  Like everyone else, librarians appreciate cooking and eating, and they buy books on those topics for their libraries.  The exhibit hall of the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association in Philadelphia had a stage right on the floor called What’s Cooking @ ALA, with two days of demos scheduled during the five-day event.  In addition, many publishers featured food-themed books in their lists.  And, guess what?  There was food scattered around the exhibit hall – although pound for pound, most of it was chocolate!

Food on Convention Floor During Opening Reception

Food on Convention Floor During Opening Reception

I was only able to attend the demos on one day.  On Saturday, pizza and cupcakes were on the menu; the third scheduled demo was cancelled.  Still, the two I caught were entertaining and informative – especially the first one.

 

Scott Wiener Making Pizza

Scott Wiener Making Pizza

Scott Wiener, author of Viva La Pizza: The Art of the Pizza Box, demonstrated his expertise at making a thin-crust pie.  He passed on hints, for instance: crushed tomatoes are the sweetest canned tomatoes, because they were the ripest fruit when they were processed.  He is not only the world record-holder for his pizza box collection, but he makes crust and sauce look easy.  And it was delicious!

Scott Signs His Book

Scott Signs His Book

 

The book contains pictures of a representative sample of his collection, together with entertaining tidbits about the history, construction and artistry of pizza boxes.  There are unexpected delights on every page.  Who knew Ed Hardy designed a pizza box?  And the phantasmagorical Japanese box is a stunner.

 

The Robicellis (Allison and Matt), disappointingly, were not prepared to make cupcakes.  Instead, they made truffles, which any fool can do (melt chocolate chips in cream, chill, roll in cocoa or whatever; hey, presto, done!), but they did talk entertainingly about their book Robicelli’s: A Love Story, with Cupcakes.  And they did bring cupcakes to sample.

 

Allison and Matt Robicelli Talk About Their Book and Life

Allison and Matt Robicelli Talk About Their Book and Life

They are advertisements for their ingredients – sugar, flour, butter (as in buttercream icing for each and every recipe), and their book is as much autobiography as cookbook.  It’s the story of how two gritty, working-class Brooklynites rose to be professional chefs and opened a cupcake bakery; but not your prissy, sweetie-pie cupcakes, no, they bake cupcakes for grown-ups.  Full of bacon, fried chicken, espresso, and (I swear) ghost peppers.  I’m not going near El Melocoton de la Muerte (The Peach of Death!!!), but I’d like to try my hand at the Bea Arthur (black coffee chocolate cake, cheesecake buttercream, espresso ganache).  It’s one of the simpler recipes.  Most in the book have three or four components and seem like they would take all day for an amateur cook to produce.  Many have a mitigating tip labeled “Half-Assed Corner,” which gives permission to cheat on some part, albeit while making the reader feel slightly ashamed – but that’s part of the book’s gestalt, so go with it.

Mummers Are In The House

Mummers Are In The House

And what else, besides booksellers, publishers, library furniture, and the occasional jewelry seller (?) ?  Why, mummers, of course (it is Philadelphia), and a 3D printer.

3D Printer - Every Library Needs One

3D Printer – Every Library Needs One

 

And a lovely woman, Robin Blum, selling bookmarks which can double as gift cards.

 

In My Book Marks

In My Book Marks

 

And books.  Yes.  I somehow acquired a pile of books.

Stack O'Books

Stack O’Books

 

Of course, we couldn’t be across the street from Reading Terminal Market without patronizing one of my favorite places in Philadelphia.  We ate jambalaya and etoufee from Beck’s Cajun Cafe.  Both delicious.

 

Cajun Lunch

Cajun Lunch

 

 

 

 

The Convention Center has been both a blessing and a curse.  While the market has come back from near-death through neglect, it is mobbed at lunchtime, and has become dominated by prepared-food stalls.  Still, Bassett’s Ice Cream is still there (since 1861!), and a woman filling cannoli to order.

Bassett's - Still There

Bassett’s – Still There

Cannoli Filled To Order

Cannoli Filled To Order

 

Among the produce, meat, fish and poultry stalls, there are cookie bakeries and cheese hipsters.

The cookbook stall is still there, and the piano man who plays for tips.

 

 

 

Valley Shepherd Creamery Cheese Hipsters

Valley Shepherd Creamery Cheese Hipsters

I never manage to carve out enough time to do the market justice.  Maybe on the next trip!

Piano Man

Piano Man

About Judy

I have been cooking and eating all my life. I help run the Olney Farmers and Artists Market in Olney, Maryland, arrange their weekly chef demos and blog from that website (olneyfarmersmarket.org) on Market matters. This personal blog is for all things foodie: cookbooks, products, restaurants, eating.
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