Ann Mah's newsletter / June 2022
Suddenly it’s summer! The temperatures are in the 90s; I’m craving hot weather food like peanut noodle salad, watermelon, and ice-chilled cherries, and I finally unearthed all the dresses last worn in Vietnam. It’s quite a dramatic change from last week’s chilly rainstorm, when I was huddled under an umbrella, swathed in a sweatshirt.
We had friends come visit last weekend – spouses, kids, the whole caboodle – and it was such a joy. I hadn’t seen them since 2017, and I hadn’t spent so much time with anyone outside of family since the pandemic began. We went to the zoo, ordered in Ethiopian food, and talked, and talked, and talked, while our girls played together, and it was chaotic, and hilarious, and perfect. It made me realize that I’ve been a little lonely these past few years, with most of my communications limited to text on a tiny screen.
In book news, I’m pleased to report that Goodreads is giving away 100 advance copies of Jacqueline in Paris! Today is the last day to enter, so if you’re interested, click here. If you don’t win this time, don’t worry, there’ll be more giveaways as we approach publication day on September 27.
Here’s what else I’ve been up to…
What I’ve been eating
–After over a year of craving rhubarb (it doesn’t grow in Vietnam), I finally made a strawberry rhubarb pie. I used this recipe from Simply Recipes.
–Speaking of strawberries, have you tried the delicious and super snappy strawberry ricotta cake from Elizabeth Minchilli?
–My favorite neighborhood cheese shop in Paris, Marie-Anne Cantin, recently posted on Instagram about pairing brie with hard dry cider, which sent me down a rabbit hole of cheese and cider pairings. A blog post from artisanal cider connoisseur Cider in Love had some other good suggestions.
–Poached eggs are usually finicky to make but Alexandra’s Kitchen shared this quick and genius technique on Instagram.
–Soup season is long gone, but before it ended we gobbled up a white bean, cauliflower, and potato puree – crushed potato chips and grated cheddar on top give it kid appeal. I’m leaving the recipe here for posterity. (New York Times)
What I’ve been reading
–Did you know that rhubarb was traded on the Silk Road and that it was highly prized as a laxative? Read all about this Victorian delicacy in the Sunday Post.
–Authors Eva Stachniak (School of Mirrors) and Christina Baker Kline (The Exiles) are favorites of mine and I enjoyed their Lithub conversation on the power and purpose of historical fiction.
–Joyce Chen was a 1960s cooking show host, a contemporary of Julia Child, and inventor of the term “Peking ravioli.” I enjoyed learning more about the life of this culinary pioneer in the Washington Post.
–Piper Huguley’s new historical novel By Her Own Design tells the story of Ann Lowe, a Black woman raised in Jim Crow Alabama who overcame prejudice and poverty to become the renowned fashion designer behind Jackie Kennedy's wedding gown. I loved learning about this overlooked talent, and the story, with all its twists and turns, is perfect summer reading.
–The Red Wheelbarrow in Paris is one of my favorite bookshops and now they have opened a fully bilingual French-English children’s bookshop called The Red Balloon! They’re currently raising funds for a two-part expansion project and need help with donations. Learn more at their page.
–In celebration of my new book, I have a new website! It was designed by my talented friend Anna Tunick Tabachnik. Stop by and let me know what you think!
This month I’ve got chapters to finish writing, and name tags to sew on my kid’s sleepaway camp gear. The end of the school year is barreling upon me like a two-ton truck. But I am pleased to report that my next dispatch will be sent from Paris! I’ll also be making a quick trip to Portland, Maine, where I plan to eat a lot of lobster. If you’re curious, I’ll be posting photos on Instagram – please come say hello. Thank you so much for reading and subscribing and see you next month!
PS If you’re wondering about the ground bees, which I wrote about last month, I have to admit that they’ve mostly disappeared – just like everyone told me they would!
Love the new website—crisp and clean :) And had never thought of pairing cider and Brie…I think I will have to look into that!
Merci beaucoup !