The 9th Annual Toys for Tots Golf Tournament

Multiple voices make for tasty book festival

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By LORNA CHEROT LITTLEWAY

THE SPENCERTOWN FESTIVAL OF BOOKS (FOB) presented by the Spencertown Academy Arts Center, is a 4-day smorgasbord for bibliophiles, held over the Labor Day weekend. This year it opened , September 1, with a members’ preview of “gently used” books for sale. Co-chair Carl Atkins estimated that 15,000 titles were available for purchase. The books were priced from $2 for paperbacks to $6 for hard cover ones. Within 15 minutes of arriving I had two armloads of books purchased for $26!

My first stop was the “Diverse Voices” section of the 1st floor Children’s Room. It was the first time the 18-year festival featured such a section.

My first find was Jacob Lawrence’s “Harriet and the Promised Land,” an illustrated book of 22 vividly colored panels, in Lawrence’s inimitable style, which he describes as “dynamic cubism.”

Historic persons and events consequential to the African American experience are Lawrence’s subjects. Harriet Tubman, born a slave in the 1820s in Maryland, was dubbed “Moses.” She made 13 trips throughout her lifetime into the South to lead scores of enslaved persons to freedom via the Underground Railroad. “Harriet and the Promised Land”received the NY Times best illustrated book award in 1968.

Other finds included “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, author of “Reservation Blues” and “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” “En Mi Familia/In My Family” by Carmen Lomas Garza, is another children’s illustrated book written in both Spanish and English.

Saturday highlighted interviews with writers Tamar Adler, “The Everlasting Meal Cookbook: Leftovers A-Z” and Wesley Brown. Adler, a Hudson resident, was interviewed by Shaina Loew-Banayan, author of “Elegy For an Appetite” and chef/owner of Café Mutton in Hudson. The two engaged in a lively discussion about what to do with excess food.

“Why do people not like leftovers?’

Author Tamar Adler

Adler, a James Beard Award winner, credited her mother and a job as a chef sub for her interest in leftovers or “re-purposed food.” Adler said that her mother used leftovers “forever” and that a perk of the chef sub job was taking home the restaurant’s leftovers.

Lowe-Banayan described Adler’s book as “exhaustive” and said, “Open to any page and find something wonderful.” As an example she cited: “What to do with moldy tomatoes.”

Lowe-Banayan posed the question, “Why do people not like leftovers?”

Adler responded that if it is just reheating the original dish, “People don’t want to eat a worse version of what [they] ate yesterday.”

Adler blamed the lack of food knowledge for a general disdain of leftovers. She, also, faulted package labeling as a “cult of expiration dates.”

Adler explained there are two choices for leftovers from an already cooked meal: 1) serve at room temperature and add “crunchy things, acid and herbs”, or 2) cook the dish longer to make it “mushier” then add the crunchy, acidic things and herbs. She added that it was important to “change the texture” by “chopping up” things.

Both women admitted that leftover cuisine is labor intensive but that the effort was worth it to create a “unique and rare—probably once-in-a-lifetime” meal.

Adler has started writing a weekly Culinary Advice Column, “The Kitchen Shrink” for an online platform. She encouraged people to send her questions, tamar.e.adler@gmail.com.

The afternoon moved from cooking to music when Wesley Brown, author of “Blue in Green,” was interviewed by Gerald Seligman, a Grammy winning record producer. Brown’s novella combines a real event, the arrest and beat down of Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, by NYC police, in 1959, and fictionalized dialogue from Davis, his wife, Frances Taylor, and several jazz luminaries.

Brown, who read two excerpts from his book, said that his greatest challenge was giving Taylor a voice “distinct” from Davis.

A FOB audience member asked Brown if he played an instrument. The author said that he studied the piano as a child but stopped due to the pressure in adolescence “to be dominant” and he, also, admitted to being somewhat “inept.” But now Brown has gone back to playing or “practicing the piano.”

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