Gabrielle Hamilton and passports

Gabrielle Hamilton and passports have little to do with one another except that during the twenty-one hour span that commenced last night at 7 and ended today around 4, I saw and spoke to Gabrielle Hamilton, she signed my copy of her new cookbook and I realized that my passport expired in June yet I need it to leave the country on Monday. You can imagine that the latter is the lame duck in the "which one doesn't fit" game.

Sigh, it is always something. However, I feel immensely grateful that I a) realized this today rather than on Monday and b) live in Washington because c) was able to make an emergency expedite appointment for Monday at 10:30am. The process is said to take 3-4 hours from start to finish, so if you don't think I'll be biting my nails in the cab out to Dulles later that afternoon, you're wrong. Immense waves of relief will rush over me as soon as I successfully check my bag and get my boarding passes.

Y'all keep your fingers crossed for me!

Last night was so much fun. Tom and I went with friends to a local restaurant, Buck's Fishing and Camping, for a dinner celebrating the release of Gabrielle Hamilton's new cookbook, Prune. (The event was organized by Politics & Prose, a tremendous independent bookstore here in DC.) It's a compilation of recipes from her restaurant, and I love that it's basically a bunch of sauce-spattered notes bound in a magenta shell. It's the kind of book from which I think I'll learn a fair amount and I am excited to jump in.

Gabrielle looked just like she does in her pictures which sounds as if it should be obvious, but you know how some people in fact do NOT resemble their photos. That is just weird. Anyway, it was a lovely evening. The bubbly was flowing, the lights were dim, people seemed truly enthused to be there. Once we'd sat, Hamilton gave a brief discussion of the book and later took a few questions.

Mrs. Student here had been thinking about how much I wanted to talk to her. I had to let her know how seriously I enjoyed her memoir (Blood, Bones & Butter), wanted to ask about a particular element of it and also thought I might throw in the fact that not two weeks ago, we ate at Prune.

Because I don't eat lamb and didn't feel interested in the rabbit leg, I'd had less solid food than perhaps advisable in the presence of freely-flowing booze (each course was paired with a matched wine). Perhaps because of that or perhaps because I was just really enjoying myself, my hand shot up -SHOT UP- when she inquired if there were any questions. My tablemates, 90% of whom I didn't know from Adam, were wildly supportive of this. I found their waving arms and cheers of "She has a question! She has a question!" very sweet if not slightly odd. Maybe they'd had a few glasses too.

Gabrielle called on me, I stood up and smiled and proceeded to let her know that my question was actually a three-parter that included two comments and one query. Nerd.alert! Swear to g, someone said, "Only in DC" which, frankly, I took as a compliment.

I told her about our visit to Prune, praised her memoir as masterfully crafted and asked if its structure -particularly around the arc of experience with her mother-in-law- was premeditated or if she'd discovered it during the writing process. "Well, as I mentioned, I have an MFA and yes, this was planned very carefully. Every word was intentional." Even more impressive really.

One of her sons is named Leone, so after thanking her, I said, "Oh, and Part 3, I have a new nephew named Leone." A collective laugh swelled when I started in on point 3, but hey, I raised my hand quicker than lightning. Today it seems possible that my knowing the name of her son may have seen vaguely stalker-like, but alas.

On our way out, I stopped by to thank her again and she was so warm and wonderful and thanked me for my question. In fact, look how she signed my book:

I floated home!

Tonight, when there was nothing more I could do about my expired passport, I started making a beef stew. It was cold today, and stew just sounded perfect. Comforting. Hearty. Midway through I decided to make potatoes to go alongside. I boiled these until al dente, sliced and fried them until golden and then topped them with rosemary, salt, pepper and a generous dollop of crème fraîche. Divine.