Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

April 13, 2018
by jenniferpuryear

Hot Chicken – and Forbidden Fruit

Nashville’s supposed to be reading The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of The Modern South for its annual community-wide “Nashville Read.”

I started it and put it down. Started it again – and put it down. After the third time, I gave up. How can a history of food and cooking in the South read so much like a school textbook? One could fairly describe it as “a wonderful narrative of the region’s evolution on race, gender, and justice,” in the words of Pulitzer-Prize winning author Diane McWhorter. But I was hoping for something more like hot chicken.

I need something spicier and juicier in my leisure reading. You too?

Try Fire Sermon, by Tennessee author Jamie Quatro. Quatro imagines the story of Maggie and Thomas, married young, living in nearby Franklin. Twenty-three years into their marriage, their children grown, Maggie finds herself in the arms of a poet she’s been corresponding with. She still loves her husband, deeply, and agonizes over the spiritual consequences of her actions. This slim book – literary fiction that takes Christian faith seriously – is both beautiful and agonizing as it considers the yearnings of the heart. What is it that we so desperately want? What is it that we so desperately need? I’m rethinking desire.

The other book I’d commend to you this April is Goodbye, Mrs. Fletcher, Tom Perrotta’s new novel about an empty-nester’s sexual adventures and self-discovery (and, on the sidelines, her son’s). If Fire Sermon breaks your heart, Goodbye Mrs. Fletcher might horrify you, slightly, with its dark humor. Eve Fletcher, divorced, has just packed her only son off to college. She must confront ”[t]he fact that her life had turned into this: this lifeless hush, this faint but elusive whiff of decay. This absolutely-nothing-to-complain-about.” She finds herself spending a bit too much quality time with – take a deep breath – internet porn. And her classmates at a community college class on Gender and Sexuality, taught by a woman who used to be a man. Mrs. Fletcher and her son have different lessons to learn about what it means to be brave, to take the right chances, and to deal with huge mistakes. They grow in wisdom and courage. Knowledge. Sorrow. Kind-of like – you know – the woman who took the bite.  

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Today’s post originally appeared in the April issue of Nfocus magazine.

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Just looking at that Nfocus cover makes me yearn for something delicious. Which takes me back to food – and Potlikker Papers. It’s possible I gave up on it too early. I don’t know. One thing I can say with certainty is that some of the citywide events surrounding this year’s Nashville Read look VERY cool, including this one:

April 26, 2018 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Location: North Branch Library, 1001 Monroe Street 

In celebration of The Potlikker Papers, Nashville’s city-wide read for 2018, Nashville Reads is partnering with Dirty Pages, a local recipe storytelling project, to share pictures and stories of “dirty pages”—those dirty, messy, smudged, much-loved recipes we all have. Some in cookbooks, some on recipe cards, some simply scribbled on an old envelope or other random scraps of paper… They might be passed down by family or connected to a favorite memory, or simply the record of a new tradition you’ve marked with friends or neighbors. They could be dusted with cocoa powder, smudged with butter, or ringed with wine stains. But each and every one of them comes with a story and a memory.

Bring your own “dirty page” recipe (in whatever form). A photographer will snap your photo with your recipe. We’ll also ask you to tell the story of your “dirty page” via a short, easy questionnaire. The photos will go on display at the library (and we’ll have a copy for you too).

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The Nashville Reads finale could be pretty great as well, especially if you’re a foodie enthusiast…

Nashville Reads Finale with John T. Edge

When: Tuesday, May 1, 2018 6:15 PM
Where: Main Library
Location: Main Library, 615 Church St. John T. Edge discusses The Potlikker Papers, followed by a panel discussion with Sean Brock of Husk, Maneet Chauhan of Chauhan Ale & Masala House, Tansuo, and The Mockingbird, and Caroline Randall Williams, author of Soul Food Love.

Check out other Nashville Reads events here.



April 6, 2018
by jenniferpuryear

Nashville Readers: Book Drive/Spring Cleaning Opportunity/Dragons & Tacos!

Nashville Friends: Some of you are perennially Spring-cleaned. I’m in awe of you. For the rest of us: it’s a great time to attack the closets… AND BOOKSHELVES! There are few things better than sending a book into the world, especially a book that will land in the hands of a child. (Take a deep breath. Release book from death on a shelf. See how it makes you feel.)

Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to share children’s AND adult books with the Martha O’Bryan Center, which has been doing good work in the world in Nashville since 1948.

Here’s the info from the Center…

We are gathering new and gently-used books for readers of all ages and will be holding a free book fair on April 12, 2018 at the Martha O’Bryan Center (MOBC).

Please have a look at your shelves and consider giving to this special event, focusing on young readers ages 5 through 13 (“level” reader books particularly useful). We will also be hosting parents at our event, so feel free to include books for all age ranges. Cookbooks are welcome!

For those with children attending one of these pre-schools, special one-time​ collection bins will be located at Westminster and St. George’s during morning hookup on Monday April 9th​.

Additionally, books can be dropped off anytime until April 9th​ at MOBC or the below addresses (please leave a note with your donation so MOBC can acknowledge your gift):

Christen Barfield
153 Cheek Road

Emily Byram
4322 Sneed Road

Corinne Kidd
1039 Lynnwood Boulevard

Sara Perry
301 Clarendon Avenue

Amy Richards/Ashley Frist
137 Brookfield Avenue

Rebecca Rutledge
814 Westview Avenue

Molly Virgin
917 Westview Avenue

For those of you who are exclusively digital readers or perennially spring-cleaned, please consider an online donation to the Martha O’Bryan Center. MOBC is one of Nashville’s oldest nonprofit organizations serving 10,000 of Nashville’s poorest, at-risk families. It has operated from the heart of Cayce Place since 1948. This is where they continue in service, partnering with Cayce Place families to open doors of hope and possibility, create a culture of attainment, and positively shape future generations.

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BONUS BACON: Dragons Love Tacos!

Here’s another cool kid-friendly, book-based event in Nashville happening soon (from press release)…

Nashville Children’s Theatre (NCT), the nation’s oldest professional theatre for young audiences, collaborates with Nashville Ballet to present the bouncing, juggling, flying play Dragons Love Tacos.

About Dragons Love Tacos

Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want a bunch of dragons at your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. But save the spicy salsa. When dragons eat spicy salsa… oh boy. You’ll discover the results can be explosive.

Dragons Love Tacos was adapted by NCT’s Ernie Nolan and based on the book by Adam Rubin and illustrations by Daniel Salmieri.

“The book Dragons Love Tacos is delightfully playful, loved by both children and parent,” says Ernie Nolan, NCT Executive Artistic Director. “When reading the book it’s impossible not to imagine the riotous fun of a party full of dragons. The more you imagine that party and its lively nature, the more you realize it’s a party everyone should enjoy, and NCT’s stage is the perfect place to host this a party. We could not have found a better collaboration partner for this project than Nashville Ballet. Of course their stunningly skilled and beautifully dynamic dancers would perfectly represent our spirited dragons. Paul Vasterling was enthusiastic and supportive from the start, plus it’s incredibly flattering that he created choreography specifically for Dragons Love Tacos. I cannot wait for audiences to join our party!”

Dragons Love Tacos is the first collaboration between NCT and Nashville Ballet. “When the opportunity arose to work with Ernie Nolan on Dragons Love Tacos, I first thought of how perfectly such a project aligns with Nashville Ballet’s mission,” says Paul Vasterling, Artistic Director and CEO of Nashville Ballet. “We’re deeply dedicated to promoting dance as an essential element of our community and collaborating with other artists and arts organizations is one of the best, most effective ways in which we can cultivate a deep and meaningful place for dance in the hearts of those around us. Dragons Love Tacos is a lighthearted, fun way to reach our youngest audiences; it’s also a very smart and witty story and Ernie’s adaptation for the stage is marvelous. I’ve had so much fun working on it!”

Performance Schedule

Opening night is Thursday, April 12 at 6:30 pm. Weekend performances are at 2 pmSaturday, April 14 – Sunday, May 13. (No performance on Sunday, April 15.)

Sensory Friendly Performance on Saturday, May 5.

ASL Sign-Interpreted Performance on Sunday, May 6.

All performances take place at The Martin Center for Nashville Children’s Theatre, 25 Middleton Street, Nashville in the SoBro neighborhood.