I was interviewed recently, related to the launch of a new novel. The very first question stopped me in my tracks and bore an introspective tunnel through my brain separating into two divergent but equally compelling directions.
The question was, “If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you cook?”
I know, right? First you have to choose among all the people you have loved or hated reading throughout the years and then decide what to cook for them. Will it be an act of love or revenge? Are you driven by the desire to impress a hero with your culinary aplomb or will it be a meeting of the minds with food in the background like the crusts of bread on the table in da Vinci’s “Last Supper?” Who will you resurrect from all of history, or will you forego that super power and feed someone who is already alive?
Perhaps, for you, this does not seem like a real grownup question. Any answer will do, or simply wipe it away with a gesture of the hand. We have more important things to discuss, like Donald Trump’s betrayal of the nation or the Cleveland Indians abandonment of Chief Wahoo. Let’s not get distracted with “What ifs” and make believe.
On the other hand, maybe the fact that your final answer will reveal a cobwebbed corner of your mind gins up your anxiety. The question is a Rorschach test and the way you answer it may say more about you than the general public has a right to know.
Aw, go ahead, take the plunge. Dive in without getting your toes wet first. Who do you want to have sit at your table, cook for, and serve? Who is it you will talk deep into the night with, and what risks will you take in your nurture of him or her? Your friends and the public be damned, what do you care if they know? It’s just a parlor game.
Take a moment to answer before you read my response. It was getting the question fresh off the page after all, that made it so compelling for me that I wanted to share it with you. If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you cook?
Okay, I hope that was fun. Here is what I said: “I suppose it would be Albert Camus, the twentieth century French philosopher and philosophical novelist. Because I could not do justice to French cuisine, I would make him American comfort food, or my best version of it: grilled teriyaki marinated flank steak, really cheesy macaroni and cheese, roasted brussel sprouts and broccoli with cashews, and a caprese salad. Then, because I do not bake, I would ask my wife to make Boston Crème Pie.”
I am afraid it did reveal more than I had intended. Someone who read the interview emailed me,
“I have to question about your referring to brussel sprouts as comfort food….I recall them more as punishment!”
To read the complete interview, go to: http://www.unsolicitedpress.com/the-buzz/one-on-one-with-cameron-miller