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Watch the L.A. Times Book Club’s virtual meet-up with author Fanny Singer and chef Alice Waters

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Writer Fanny Singer and her mother, renowned chef Alice Waters, will join Los Angeles Times Book Club readers on April 21 for a virtual meet-up from Waters’ home kitchen in Berkeley.

The Los Angeles Times Book Club hosted a virtual meet-up Tuesday night with “Always Home” author Fanny Singer and her mother, renowned chef Alice Waters, talking about food, family and life in quarantine.

Singer’s book is a memoir about her life growing up at the forefront of California’s farm-to-table revolution. The book is a stew of colors, tastes and aromas interspersed with five dozen recipes, including comfort food such as Singer’s favorite roast chicken.

Singer joined Waters and Times editor Laurie Ochoa for a wide-ranging conversation about cooking at home during the coronavirus crisis, the roots of Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project and the future of restaurants.

The book club video is available for viewing on Facebook and YouTube. Here are a few highlights:

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Living her book title. When the pandemic hit, Singer was forced to cancel her “Always Home” book tour and has been sheltering at her mother’s home in Berkeley. “Like everyone,” she says, “we’ve been cooking every single meal, day in and day out.” She talked about making veggie stock from scraps, being careful not to waste food, and the importance of keeping 15 to 20 heads of garlic on hand at all times. “I tend to be more paranoid about running out of garlic than toilet paper.”

Alice Waters made gourmet school lunches for her daughter, author Fanny Singer.
A school lunch photo featured in the L.A. Times virtual book club with Fanny Singer and Alice Waters.
(Brigitte Lacombe)

Memorable school lunches. Singer’s memoir chronicles a childhood of fine food in the orbit of her mother’s Chez Panisse restaurant and the stories behind the gourmet middle school lunches her mother began making during her ’ divorce. Singer recalls her packed lunches went from basic peanut butter and banana to “completely bonkers” feasts. Singer noted Tuesday night that photos in her book re-create the lunches but that the actual meals were more elaborate productions with separate containers for everything, including Water’s signature vinaigrette.

Importance of being prepared. Waters says she travels everywhere with an emergency pack in her car. That includes candles “to change the mood,” a camping stove and a good bottle of wine. Singer recalled a time her mother opened wine in a public park and then quickly corked it with one of her candles. “It’s not an open container if it’s a candlestick,” Singer said.

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Speaking of wine. On Tuesday night, Singer and Waters led a book club toast with a bottle of Bandol rosé from Domaine Tempier. Waters noted that the winemaker’s proprietress, Lulu Peyraud, is 102 and a longtime family mentor. “The fact that she’s 102 years old and drinks a lot of this stuff is a really good sign,” Singer added. “In these times it’s good to have a libation you can trust.”

What they’re reading: Singer said she recently reread “An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, while Waters shared How to Cook a Wolf” by M.F.K Fisher.

Before the book talk, mother and daughter also shared their food reading lists:

Singer: “My Bombay Kitchen” by Niloufer Ichaporia King; “A Platter of Figs” by David Tanis; “The Violet Bakery Cookbook” by Claire Ptak; “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook” by Judy Rodgers; and “Salt Fat Acid Heat” by Samin Nosrat.

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Waters: “Lulu’s Provencal Table” by Richard Olney with Lulu Peyraud; “French Country Cooking” by Elizabeth David; “The Cuisines of Mexico” by Diana Kennedy; “Mediterranean Grains and Greens” by Paula Wolfert; and “The Taste of Country Cooking” by Edna Lewis.

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Books

Sign up for the Los Angeles Times Book Club


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