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May 11, 2004

Looking for Mr. Latte

by Ron Hogan

I'll admit that my reasons for attending the Amanda Hesser reading at Coliseum Books last night were primarily extraliterary. First of all, the location made it extraordinarily convenient for me to pop over to Nat Sherman earlier in the afternoon and chill out in the humidor for an hour or so with Bruce Sterling's new technothriller, The Zenith Angle (about which more very soon). Second, I was under the distinct impression that some of Hesser's fiercely loyal opposition from the New York blogging community might show up to, well, be opposed, after which I might have gone drinking with them, because that's pretty much what happens when you get three or more bloggers together in a one-yard radius.

They all skipped out, however, so although they might well have bared their teeth as Ms. Hesser read a passage from Cooking for Mr. Latte in which she almost dumps her new boyfriend because he uses Equal instead of raw sugar to sweeten those lattes, the story was recounted without incident, along with a further anecdote about how she learned to live with her eventual in-laws and their attitude towards the culinary arts.

To some, of course, this will all sound dreadfully unsympathetic, and under purely social circumstances my own patience might wear thin just as easily; I mean, if the worst you can say about a prospective boyfriend is that he likes Budweiser, and you're still on the fence about dating him, it may be time to question your standards. To her credit, however, Hesser isn't a Bergdorf Blonde, and thus possesses enough self-awareness to anticipate this reaction, so she steers the tale precisely in the direction of her learning to loosen up under Mr. Latte's influence, and confessed to the audience that she's learned to drink more beer since dating and then marrying him. (Which isn't to say he doesn't clean up nicely; apparently she's gotten him to upgrade from Budweiser to Sapporo.)

As I said, the crowd was pretty much in Hesser's camp, so when the Spice Market controversy finally came up during the Q&A, it was raised by a sympathetic foodie blogger from Brooklyn, and we all accepted Hesser's answer, which was that of course she should have exercised full disclosure, but had forgotten that her publisher had contacted Jean-Georges Vongerichten for a blurb. She also told us she only had a few more reviews left to write, for which she was thankful, and when pressed to name a restaurant she liked, eventually allowed that she enjoyed the soba at Honmura An. (As well she might, though it's been years since I've been there myself.) Then somebody asked what haricots verts were, and I stopped keeping track of what was happening around me.


Skipping out? Cowards...

Posted by: Sarah at May 11, 2004 09:29 AM
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