So much great stuff happening for my new book. Wonderful pub party in New York. Amazing coverage in the New York Times on the very day of publication: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/dining/craig-claiborne-set-the-standard-for-restaurant-reviews.html?pagewanted=all
--Not only the big piece by Pete Wells but additional ones by Jacques Pépin and Bryan Miller, plus two memorable pieces by Craig himself.
And now I'm in the plush comfort of Southern hospitality--readings, radio, TV, friends old and new. Best of all has been a party given for me by Marion and Claiborne Barnwell in Jackson, Mississippi. Claiborne Barnwell is Craig's nephew, and he and his wife brought together a splendid crowd of fascinating people.
Mississippi is an amazing place: Lemuria in Jackson and Turnrow Books in Greenwood are two of the finest bookstores I've ever seen, both run by dedicated lovers of good writing. Tomorrow I'll be reading at another of the state's extraordinary literary crossroads, Square Books in Oxford--cheek by jowl with Faulkner's house and Ole Miss. It was John T. Edge of the latter, head of its Center for the Study of Southern Culture, who gave me the push I needed to get going on The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat, back in 2009. And it was John T.'s grad student, Georgeanna Milam Chapman, whose master's thesis on Claiborne saved me many months of research; Georgeanna's generosity in sharing it with me warms my heart every time I think about it.
And oh, Memphis barbecue! Without question the best in the world. Leonard's my hangout since childhood, iconic, still the best of the best. Central Barbecue new to me, with a uniquely powerful sauce and delightful staff. Today will be lunch at the Barbecue Shop, another temple of barbecue greatness.