The coolest thing about the event is that it’s not about the actual food that you can buy or eat; it’s the hours of thoughtful discussion about what food means to us personally and as a society.
Here’s an overview of the food programming at this year’s festival that I wrote for a book fest tab that appeared in the paper over the weekend and will be available on site at the event:
PBS host Lidia Bastianich, right, will headline the first day of the festival with an interview about her love of family, Italian food culture and her newest cookbook, “Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking” at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 25 in the House Chamber. Bastianich, who won the Emmy last year for outstanding culinary host for her show, “Lidia’s Italy,” has written children’s books in recent years, but “Commonsense Italian” marks the 10th cookbook for this beloved restaurateur.
In the Cooking Tent, the first day’s lineup starts at 10 a.m. with Houston food writer Adán Medrano cooking from “Truly Texas Mexican,” followed by what will surely be a fascinating session at 11:30 a.m. with “Soul Food” author Adrian Miller, right, one of the leading voices in African-American food history and culture.
At 1 p.m., Michael Ruhlman, one of the country’s most respected cookbook authors who has co-written all of French Laundry chef Thomas Keller’s books, makes the first of two appearances at the festival, this time in the Central Market Cooking Tent to demonstrate a recipe from “Ruhlman’s How to Roast: Foolproof Techniques and Recipes for the Home Cook.”
Austinite Kate Payne will show off some of the hip homemaking skills, including how to make mayonnaise, from her latest book, “The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen” at 2:30 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. demonstration from noted Dallas chef Dean Fearing, who earlier this year published “The Texas Food Bible.”
In the Texas Tent, Austin style blogger Camille Styles will talk about her first book, “Camille Styles Entertaining” at 10 a.m., followed by Tex-patriate food blogger Lisa Fain, whose latest love letter to her home state is “The Homesick Texan’s Family Table.”
The second day’s food program kicks off with back-to-back sessions on the foodways of Mexico. David Sterling, author of “Yucatán,” will talk about peninsula food culture at 11 a.m., followed by a wider-ranging session at 12:30 p.m. with Margarita Carrillo Arronte, the Mexico City chef who is credited with helping Mexican cuisine earn UNESCO designation. Her latest book is a 700-recipe tome called “Mexico: The Cookbook.”
At 2 p.m., the conversation comes back to Texas with a cooking demonstration from Jack Gilmore, who recently released his first cookbook, “Jack Allen’s Kitchen.” At 3:30 p.m., “Texas On The Table: People, Places, and Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of the Lone Star State” author Terry Thompson-Anderson and photographer Sandy Wilson, who a few years ago collaborated on a book called “The Texas Hill Country: A Food and Wine Lover’s Paradise,” will talk about Texas regional cuisines. Both of these sessions will highlight the many farmers, winemakers, distillers and ranchers whose work has been so important to the development of Texas cuisine.
Michael Ruhlman returns to the festival at 2:15 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Kirkus Reviews Tent, where I will interview him about his new book, “Egg,” as well as his many other influential culinary books, including “Ratio” and “Charcuterie.”