More Notes from the Book Tour

Signing books

Where were we? Ah, yes: last time we spoke, I had just arrived in Seattle. I am now home, tired but happy, and I thought I would share a few more thoughts and highlights from the final week of my US book tour, between Seattle and San Francisco.

Sharpie. In under two weeks, I managed to go from not knowing what a Sharpie was — this brand of marker doesn’t exist in France — to being very particular about the Sharpie that I used: if it’s a fine point, I need it to be brand new, otherwise the line is too thick; if it’s an extra fine point, I need it to have a bit of mileage, otherwise the line is too thin.

Bookplates. Before I left New York, my publicist gave me a bundle of bookplates, a.k.a. ex libris — in my case, just blank stickers with a small Broadway Books logo at the bottom. This turned out to be a smart move (unsurprisingly so, for my publicist is a smart person) because we usually ran out of books to sell at the different events. The last people to arrive would look disappointed that they couldn’t get a copy, until I whipped out my stack of stickers and said, in my consolation prize voice, “Would you like me to sign a bookplate for you?” To which most people responded with a vigorous nod, and asked if I could sign one for their sister-in-law and their best friend, too.

A chef’s take on my recipes. About half of the events of the tour were booksigning dinners or lunches, i.e. meet-the-author events hosted at restaurants, during which our guests could eat, drink, and mingle. The chef could — but didn’t have to — plan the meal around recipes from the book, and a large part of the fun for me was to see what they’d done with them. They all did a great job, obviously, and after my initial feeling of relief (1- the guys in the kitchen do not smirk at me; 2- the food tastes great), I relished it when they took creative license with the dishes and made them their own.

Seattle. I wish I’d had more than just two days in Seattle, but I did manage to squeeze in a visit to the Pike Place Market (like every tourist and his neighbor) and, more notably, to the World Spice Merchants store, where, against my better judgement, I indulged in a miniature spice-shopping spree. The wasabi powder, smoked alderwood sea salt, Utah basin salt, Seattle salmon rub, aleppo pepper, and shiitake tofu scrambler then conspired to lend a guttural, smokey smell to the contents of my suitcase, so if you met me after that and thought something smelled a bit like sopressata, that would have been me; sorry.

San Francisco. It was a glorious feeling to be back and have a few days to enjoy the city — the Ferry Building farmers market in the fog of dawn (well, 8:30 is early to me), dinner at Nopa with a great view onto the kitchen, dinner at Derrick’s and brunch at Brett’s (don’t you love it when life presents you with effortless alliterations), a quick visit in Sam‘s company to the Capsule design festival, where my friend Lucy had a booth… As always, I lamented the fact that SF and Paris aren’t closer to one another (who designed this planet, anyway?) and vowed to come back as soon as possible.

Google. While there were too many highlights to count to my stay in the Bay Area, my inner dot-comer got a serious kick out of my visit of the Google campus: having read so much about it, I was pleased to observe that it was every bit as surreal and fun as I’d imagined, an amusement park of a workplace where colorful gizmos abound, and where the food is free and exceptionally tasty. I gave a talk there, and the video is available here for your enjoyment — it’s a 15-minute talk, followed by a 20-minute Q&A session.

The things I carried. When I took the plane back to Paris, I thanked my lucky stars that the security guys didn’t decide to search my suitcase, thus exposing to the world the ridiculous amount of edibles I was bringing home — the afore-mentioned spices, one salami, two boxes of cereals (these were not for me), two jars of chunky peanut butter (I plead guilty), dried mango slices, homemade vinegar, homemade apple butter, homemade rhubarb and strawberry jam, homemade cinnamon salt, two pounds of meyer lemons, macadamia blossom honey, apricot syrup, meyer lemon and lime marmalade, and enough chocolates and caramels to open my own confection shop, except I’d rather eat them myself.

Moblog slide show. Lest you worried about me not being well fed on the tour (now, where in the world would you have gotten that idea?), this slideshow of moblog pictures should reassure you plenty:

Thank you. My most sincere thanks to those of you who attended these US events: thank you for showing your support, for listening when I talked, for sharing your own stories, and for showering me with kind words, compliments, and the occasional delicious gift. Thank you for making this trip exhilarating, gratifying, and fun. I look forward to meeting your European counterparts in Paris and London later this June.

[Photo credit: The picture that illustrates this post was taken by Debra, a reader from Chicago.]

  • Glad to see you had a blast on your trip! :) I wish you had a Asian book tour…well, at least I got your book and now I can enjoy all your yummy dishes! I loved going through it…the stories with each recipe were a delightful read :)

    I have smoked alderwood sea salt too and love it! I’ve actually used it with one of your recipes here…the canape with avocado and radish and smoked salt…very good! It’s also very good rubbed on steaks (imparts a nice, smokey flavor)…especially if, like me, you life in a flat and have no access to a real charcoal grill!

  • Congratulations on a successful book tour in the U.S. How fun that you got to visit the Google campus! I only wish you would have come down to the L.A. area though.

    I will also just barely miss your book signing in Paris as I will be visiting Paris for the first time on June 8th. Oh well. Hopefully when you write your next book I can get that one signed;) Congratulations again Clotilde!

  • It sounds like you had a really wonderful time on your book tour in the U.S., Clotilde! Love all of the pictures, everything looks so delicious. I cannot WAIT to get my hands on your new book!

    Looking forward to seeing you soon…

    P.S. ~ I also read a blurb about your cookbook in the June issue of American Vogue — congrats once again! Great reviews all around, that must be such an excellent feeling, to have the validation of what you love.

  • The book arrived and its gorgeous, i can’t wait for zucchini to surprise me in my organic veg box so i can try the cake. Obviously without giving prior warning to my boyfriend who is a bit conservative with food. Good luck with the rest of your signing tour.

  • Hilda

    I wish I could *actually* vicariously experience that animal-style cheeseburger from In’n’Out. I miss them.
    That’s a lovely picture of you, it almost looks like it was taken with the old trick of the pantyhose over the lens.
    Btw, out of curiosity, how do you organize/rangez your spices in your small kitchen? I feel increasingly inundated by the ever-growing number of spice jars taking over all the available space in mine.

  • It sounds like your book tour was quite successful! I was talking to my mother from the East Coast last night, and she mentioned your book, not even knowing that I went to your book signing. She read about you in the paper and was instantly drawn to you. Word gets around quickly, even to those who did not previously know about your blog. Congratulations!

  • Julieta

    Hi Clotilde,
    Congratulations on your tour success! I’m sorry I missed the signing in NYC. I got your book though – it is FANTASTIC! I’ve tried three recipes already (and the variations too!) and they turned out great. Thank you for writing so well and for inspiring us to create great things in the kitchen!

  • Kerry

    Hi Clotilde:

    Dolph and I had so much fun meeting you at Froggy’s and we enjoyed the great company at our table. You’d mentioned your anticipation for the Google campus visit and I’m pleased it fulfilled your expectations. As for us and your book, we’ve already enjoyed some Zucchini Carpaccio at home this week–it travels beautifully for work-lunch-packers by the by!

    Best wishes,


  • Kara

    Clotilde: I love your book – prepared the Gateau Chocolat Framboise for a party last week-end and it was enjoyed by all! Thank you, again! Kara

  • Tea

    I am so glad you enjoyed your whirlwind! It was a delight to meet you–and I agree, SF and Paris ought to be a little closer together, Seattle too:-)

  • I’m sorry I missed your stop in the bay area — my friends at Google really enjoyed your presentation there. And the rush from having chefs preparing your recipes — wow!

  • donna

    Hi Clotilde,

    It was a delight meeting you again at Cody’s! I am enjoying the cookbook TREMENDOUSLY – and have given them as gifts to my son (who loves it) and friends.

    I hope you ate somewhere wonderful in the East Bay as well!

  • It was a delight to meet you Clotilde at D & D and another delight to watch your Google talk!
    Thanks :)

  • Oooo, it sounds very exciting! I’m rather envious!

  • Welcome home and I imagine your kitchen has been pining for you. My copy of your book is due in the post any day now so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it.
    Roll on the next book! (When you’ve had a breather of course!)

  • I pre-ordered your book and my mom and I looked through it immediate. It is a lovely little book filled with delightful recipes. This weekend I made your mini honey financier which turned out perfect and well well recieved. I will be posting them shortly. Thank you for this lovely work. The pictures are all beautiful and the recipes are really great. I only wish that the us version included the weight of ingredients as well as the measure. It would also have been nice if you had come down to the LA area but maybe another time.

  • Rachel

    Wow, what a whirlwind! Glad to hear that you got a chance to do your own thing in addition to all the signings (as well as make a truly impressive haul).

    Hope you have a relaxing next couple of weeks – you deserve it. I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say I’m looking forward to your coming to London!

  • franko

    i just watched your video link at youtube (from the google campus) — how nice it is to see you, hear you speak, and catch some of you in real life (as opposed to typed words). i didn’t realize this until you mentioned it, but i guess i’ve been reading and enjoying your blog since 2004, because i remember when you started your book project!

    your book is fantastic — we are currently hooked on your curried turkey sandwich (although, we use smoked tofu, as you suggest in your substitutions). i am VERY grateful, by the way, that you offer vegetarian substitution ideas for many of your recipes. thank you!

    i am making your chocolate & zucchini cake this weekend for my boyfriend. i am glad you recommend it so highly!

  • Coltide,

    I sat up last night reading your book and had to make the honey almond bites today…so delicious! My new favorite treate. Congratulations on everything!

  • I read your blog a lot but never comment, but couldn’t resist this time – congrats! I am so impressed with what you’re doing, not only the new life you’ve carved out for yourself but watching the video how amazing your English is! I’ll have to ask my dad if he saw your presentation at Google because he works there, you’re right, their ‘campus’ is crazy! I’ll have to try to make a trip to paris for the next book signing!

  • Hi Clotilde,

    Your Google visit was SUCH a pleasure to watch, it’s so amazing and wonderful to associate a real person, voice and story with your written word.

    Congrats on your book tour and best wished for continued success in your food writing.

  • Glad to hear you liked Seattle. :) I was working (unfortunately) the day you were signing here, otherwise I’d have hightailed it out of my place, dragged my mom with me and come to meet you!

  • Lisa

    Hello Clotilde – I really enjoyed watching the Google talk, since I live nowhere near any of the places that you visited. I was especially interested in your comments about the difference between the type of cooking that you do and cooking every night for a family. For those of us in the throes of that phase of life, we will be very interested to learn whether and how cooking changes for you if you ever find yourself doing nightly family cooking, perhaps as your mother did.

    Also, I dont know whether you have read Julia Child’s autobiography, but I think you might enjoy her description of adapting recipes devised in France for an american audience. Your comments on that issue reminded me of her book.

    Thanks for the youtube posting! — Lisa

  • Thought you didn’t like people taking pictures of you….!

  • just curious… no cereals or chunky PB in paris? and they allow transporting fresh fruits cross-continent? don’t they like ask you to declare these items at customs? i hope the dried mangoes are from the philippines, at least. ok.. sorry, now i’m being a snob. =D

    but really, i’m glad you had fun on your book tour.

  • Just want to let you know that I received the bookplate from my friend who attend the event in SF. She was kind enough to ask you to sign one for me:-)
    I sticked it on your book I bought from Amazon!

  • It was great seeing you and catching up. Did the cookies make it on the plane? And did you find something to good to eat at the airport?

  • Hi Clotilde,

    It was nice seeing and talking with you in SF event. And my friend got received a bookplate from you. Thanks a lot!

  • J’attends avec impatience la version française!

  • Laura

    I was sad to miss you in San Francisco – got the dates messed up and went on Sun. instead of Sat. d’Oh!- but was very happy to find an autographed copy of your book at a local store…its as wonderful as promised, and almost a consulation for not meeting you in person….

  • OH.MY.GOODNESS… I got my copy from Amazon today and it is beautiful and so delicious looking! I cannot wait to get cooking with it. Thanks for such a lovely and inspiring publication!!!!!

  • What a delight to be able to see and hear you on that Google talk.
    Congrats on a book tour led “de main de maitre”!
    Leaving the US with a suitcase full of food is easy…it’s coming in the US with one that is difficult!

  • All – Thank you for your kind comments — so glad you’re enjoying the book!

    Hilda – The way I organize my spices is: I don’t organize my spices. I have a shallow shelf that runs the length of the counter and I keep the different bottles there, nicely shielded from the light, but it’s too small to hold them all now so I have a bunch of jars and little bags at one corner of the counter.

    Kayenne – We do have cereals in Paris, just not this kind; it is also possible to find peanut butter, but not organic, old-fashioned, and chunky; finally, to my knowledge, it’s okay to bring lemons back to France. As Helen just noted, it’s bringing food into the US that’s complicated.

    Amy – I’ve just emailed you about the cookies — thanks again!

    Auré – The French version is scheduled for publication by Marabout on October 17…

  • kpg

    Clotilde…That is a lovely photo of you and I send best wishes for the book. I am still trying to prepare all the many delicious recipes I have collected from you. Imagine the joy of knowing that in 2007 I can go to you to find recipes for wonderful dishes that my great grandmother and grandmaman prepared for me back in my youth, over 40 years ago[they never wrote anything down]they had carried the recipes for generations from Quimper en Bretagne! Merci encore!! Will you be in San Franciso again soon??

  • Hilda

    Merci pour vôtre réponse, I was just curious. I keep buying up all the smallest jars at Mora to store mine.

  • Contratulations, Clotilde! I just got your book. I live in Chile, South America, and have been reading your blog for a while. I can imagine how proud and happy you must be right now. You really deserve it. Congratulations again…Best regards and thanks for a wonderful book.

  • chanie

    after reading your blog for a while, watching the google video was a wonderful way to hear more about your process. i especially like the way you talk about cooking as an inspired and creative act, and take things from various sources in order to create.
    also good to hear that you dont encourage cooking like this daily for a family – i try, but get bogged down sometimes!

  • franko

    i just wanted to follow up on the C&Z cake, which i mentioned up above. i made it this past weekend, and i can attest that it is indeed *fantastic*. it made for a very happy birthday indeed.

  • Heather

    As a Frenchwoman you should try the BIC Mark-it as a superior product to the Sharpie. Just starting to read your blog, but I’m beyond impressed with your ability to write fluently in English, I wish I were 1/2 as good in French!

  • Franko – So glad you enjoyed the cake; thanks for reporting back!

    Heather – Yes, the markers I had brought with me on the tour were BICs, but since it’s such a common brand in France, it was just more fun for me to use the local Sharpie. When in Rome… (And thanks for the compliment!)

  • I just ordered your book from From all the responses here and everywhere else, I’m sure I will love the book. Anyway, it’s really neat that you have a computer science background and you’re doing THIS instead. Gives me hope. I went from IT to Finance, but I’d love to cook … and write.

  • Jenn

    Clotide, It was great meeting you in Healdsburg, and the drive from San Jose was worth every minute. Just as I thought your book was all I needed for the 6hr. plane ride. Hope the rest of your tour is going as well as in the US.

  • It’s very nice to read your words.I’m very happy when i saw your artical here.i hope i can get a Bookplates from u sine u don’t know me.OH,never mind.i’ll come here often :)

  • Claudia

    Ok, this is going to sound freaky but I was so sad I couldn’t make it to your events (I have a 2 year old and a 10 month old) that I had a dream where I went to SF and your talk was over but you were there and I was telling you to go to Napa for wine-tasting and you smiled but I could tell you thought I was stupid because, hello! you’re from France and you have awesome wines there. Oh, and I brought you olives and stuff from Peru (where I am from) and your assistant was trying so hard to get them in your suitcase, which was overstuffed.

    Like I said, freaky, but I am pretty normal and not a stalker :D

    Got your book, love it, will try some recipes this week.

  • I too experienced a Sharpie epiphany! When I began culinary school and also in the restaurant kitchen the Sharpie became one of my most important tools. Who knew a chunky pen could make such a difference in the cooking life and rank right up there with tongs and a knife? I love your book! I just went on a weekend getaway and it was my constant companion. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  • Hi Clotilde,
    I love your book, recipes are amaizing, hope seeing you next time in NY. Congratulations !

  • P

    Clothilde- I received my copy of your book a few weeks ago, and am happy to say that it already bears its first cooking smudges! I was very disappointed that I wasn’t able to attend the book tour events in Boston. Regardless, the book is a wonderful accomplishment- félicitations!

  • heather vigliotti

    I just discivered your book this June, I am sorry to see I missed your book tour in Seattle!

  • What a beautiful website you have here. From the sample of writing here your books must be as lovely or more. As I read I have made a list of some new foods I’ll be seeking out as with the title of your book! Congratulations~be proud of yourself and these blessings, wow!

  • SL

    Yesterday, I spent a long time looking for an easy entre for our weekly Friday night gathering of friends and neighbors. I considered pizza or your Tomato Tatin but our tomatoes aren’t ready yet. I wanted to use mostly what I had on hand so as to not have to go shopping. And I didn’t want to work too hard. I chose your Quiche Oignon & Cumin. It was absolutely fabulous! Everyone raved and ate up every scrap. And while I didn’t get any marriage proposals, I plan to add it to the permanent arsenal. The mini-financiers au Miel were also a delight. And since I am a beekeeper it was a joy to use my own honey. My friends and I do love your book and blog. Thanks so much.

  • Al

    I too am growing to love cooking in the Bay Area — I just had great success with your Soupe Broccoli Mimolette with ingredients from The Milk Pail Market in Mountain View. Merçi mille fois! Can’t wait to pick up the book.

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