In 2009, more and more people were writing in public as tweeters and bloggers, so book lovers Catherine Trujillo and I started Reading In Public. One August afternoon, with the help of our librarian friend Brett Bodemer, we wheeled a reading chair around the city of San Luis Obispo, parking it in various locations downtown. People of different ages and walks of life took turns reading out loud, sometimes to an engaged audience, sometimes to passersby on the street. We wanted to explore and celebrate the idea of broadcasting words in public.
A few weeks ago Reading In Public paid homage to the world of food, a multicourse exploration of the connection between belly, mind and funny bone. Dining In Public was a riotous few hours of nibbling and readings ranging from a 1988 interview conducted with then 91-year-old South Carolina farmer Bubba Henry, on butchering a hog back when lye was in common use ("You don't use that much, just test it with your finger, just to get the hair off ..."), to children reading Shel Silverstein's "Where The Sidewalk Ends," to a story about the chicken/duck/turkey almost-matryoshka called turducken, which both comedically and culinarily is a "farce." As poet Francesca Nemko proclaimed, her voice ringing in the small space, it was a lovely evening with friends and "fabulous, beautiful, glorious food."
While we couldn't have you over for Dining in Public, we would like to share with you our dishes for the night: an exhibit by local artists and readers who painted 22 plates in various media to represent their favorite food-related book titles, from Naked Lunch to Rootabaga Stories to, yes, Dracula. Maybe they'll inspire your own eating and reading in public!