Bookshelf Interview: Laura from The First Mess


The First Mess is a knockout of a site.  Laura’s approach to cooking focuses on natural, seasonal foods and sharing delicious meals, and her recipes are to die for (and I am so, so lucky to have had the chance to experience her baking– you have no freaking idea.)  Like the warm veggie bowl with ginger miso gravy?  Or the summer panzanella for which she made an absolutely beautiful video?  She can even make DIY protein powder look luscious.  Here’s a sneaky little peek into her cookbook and food-writing collection…


How many cookbooks & books on food in your collection?

Desert island (assuming a very well-equipped desert island kitchen) cookbook pick.
The 4-Hour Chef by Timothy Ferriss. Not even ashamed to admit that I own this. There’s a lot of survivalist stuff in there (pigeon capture and the like), but also instruction on cooking sous vide in anything that will hold water. If I’m stranded, I’ll be finding solace in some tenderly cooked foods FOR SURE.

Favourite food memoir.
Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune in NY. She basically puts Anthony Bourdain to shame on all fronts. Fun fact: he admits this on the back cover.

Prettiest cookbook.
Either NOMA: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine or Magnus Nillson’s Fäviken book that came out last year. That whole Nordic aesthetic makes me swoon big time.  (blogger’s note: she ain’t freaking kidding, guys– these cookbooks are drop-dead gorgeous.)


Four fictional characters and a lunch: who and what do you pick? More importantly, why?
1. Tengo Kawana from Murakami’s 1Q84, mostly because I read this recently and also because he’s painted as a rather apt cook throughout the story and I mean, who doesn’t like a helping hand when they’re hosting lunch?
2. Katharine Clifton from The English Patient. You kind of have to love a woman who tags along on a desert expedition the day after she gets hitched, all on a lark. She reads The Histories around campfires and makes dudes fall in love with her. I think we could vibe.
3. Richard Katz from Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. He’s a serial lone wolf musician-type and a bit of a jerk, but he hilariously attributes the inclusion of arugula in a dish to tendencies of the upper class at one point. Discussing socio-economic aspects of food accessibility will get me fired up every time.
4. Not a literary fictional character, but The Dude of The Big Lebowski fame is my last choice. Someone needs to bring up the chill factor at this gathering.

We would eat homemade papardelle with tomatoes from my garden and plenty of arugula (obviously), olives and pine nuts. There would be impossibly well-chilled rosé and white Russians. Everyone loves pasta and a crisp libation.

Food philosophy.
Pay attention.

Absolute fave top five best for everyone recommendations.
The Flavour Bible by Karen Page & Andrew Dornenberg
An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler
Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart (blogger’s note: this sounds tremendous)
The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte


And here are a few of Laura’s favourite food quotes:

Everyone I know is looking for solace, hope and a tasty snack.”
-Maira Kalman on her dog Pete for the New York Times

We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”
-Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast

People who know me well understand fully what I am saying when I suggest that I am working an appetite and that we’d best be making our move. This means it is time to hit the road before my blood sugar–what’s left of it–crashes to that point where I’m going to ruin your fucking day.”
-Gabrielle Hamilton in Blood, Bones & Butter (the italics are 100% hers I swear)

Then came the day with stars on it: time for what my grandmother would have called “the first mess of peas.””
-M.F.K. Fisher on the very best peas of her life in An Alphabet for Gourmets (I named my blog after this little tidbit)

Laura, thank you so much for sharing!

6 thoughts on “Bookshelf Interview: Laura from The First Mess

  1. Wow, it was obvious from the photos that this would include book stats, but 104 books on food? I openly admit I wouldn’t have thought there would be variety enough other than in strict recipe books. This was a very enlightening (and interesting) interview!

  2. This is fabulous! Excited to check some of these out.

    I’d also be curious as to what cookbook Laura would bring to her dessert island. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>