On Dec. 4, folks will gather at the Atlanta History Center to hear cookbook author Julia Turshen talk about her newest work, “Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus and Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers” (Chronicle Books, $35).
The audience may hear how Turshen, the best-selling author of cookbooks “Feed the Resistance” and “Small Victories,” initially focused on reinventing leftovers before expanding into a broader coverage of culinary resourcefulness. Besides offering creative recipes that minimize food waste, Turshen strives to show readers that a meal doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. And she hopes to give home cooks tips and tricks to make it easier for gathering people around the table.
But the spotlight that evening will not just be on Turshen’s 125-strong recipes in the book, including her favorites, an applesauce cake with cream cheese and honey frosting, and chicken and roasted tomato enchiladas. Rather, this last stop in her three-month book tour will be a gathering of Atlanta’s community of LGBTQ female culinarians, who will speak about the challenges of being an LGBTQ woman in food.
Turshen will share the stage with a handful of local faces, including cookbook author Virginia Willis, Deborah Van Trece of Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours and her partner Lorraine Lane, as well as The New York Times Atlanta bureau chief Kim Severson. Journalist Rosalind Bentley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will moderate the conversation. The evening will begin with a reception featuring drinks by bartender Tiffanie Barriere and small bites from Arepa Mia chef-owner Lis Hernandez.
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“Wherever I go, my goal is to connect with as many communities as possible,” Turshen said. “When we chose Atlanta as the final city, I thought, who did I want to connect with? I realized the list I was creating was full of LGBTQ women, which is how I identify. Why not get together and celebrate it and talk about certain things we have faced or experienced or are looking forward to?”
Turshen hopes the event helps to increase the visibility of the LGBTQ community while also demonstrating its diversity. “I think women, the queer community, women of color — every community (that is) marginalized — hasn’t been centered,” she said. “But we have individual experiences. Sometimes, as a gay woman, I am asked to speak about all gay women. No single one of us represents all of us. There is room for more than one of us.”
Making room at the table and feeling connected through food are currents that run through “Now & Again.” “My forever goal for what I cook, eat, and for the recipes I write is to feel connected. I’m always searching for and celebrating this feeling,” she writes in the book’s introduction.
During a phone interview, she expanded on these thoughts about the power of food. “When we share it with people, we are creating time and space to be together. This, in a time that is so divisive, and we are all incredibly aware and connected online, but disconnected in person. When we cook with and for each other, we are spending time in person. Food gives us the vehicle to do that on a daily basis. It brings people together. We need that always, and more than ever right now.”
In the book, Turshen shares a story about how fellow cookbook writer and Georgia native Nicole Taylor asked her a question that both changed and challenged her: When was the last time you had more than one person around your dining table who didn’t look like you?
“It made me reflect on the personal actions that I am taking even in the private space of my own home,” said Turshen, who lives in the Hudson Valley with her wife, Grace Bonney. “There is a lot of talk about bringing people together and reaching across the aisle, bridging gaps. Food lets us do that,” she said, adding, “It’s not just about someone not looking like you, but also someone who doesn’t think like you.”
“I hope that it feels like a night of good food and drink and important conversation,” said Atlanta History Center vice president of author and family programs Kate Whitman. “I love that 2018 has brought so many wonderful chefs to the Atlanta History Center, as it is my belief that we tell stories through the food we share with one another.”
“Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus and Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers”
6 p.m. reception; 7 p.m. program Dec. 4. $15 members; $20 nonmembers. Includes cocktails and small bites. Reserve tickets online. Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. 404-814-4000, atlantahistorycenter.com.