I'm writing this, my first guest post for Powell's, on the eve of NYC's first "Frankenstorm," courtesy of hurricane Sandy. I trundled to my home at 7 p.m. on perhaps one of the last trains to Queens on Sunday night, picked up a few cartons of almond milk, and lamented that I didn't get there sooner to grab the last loaf of bread.
As the city prepares to batten down in the face of a storm, I prepare to shut down myself after a long summer and fall of travel and work. This Friday I flew home after nearly a week in Amsterdam, each day an opportunity to meet remarkable people making an impact on their food culture in diverse ways. If my planning had stretched a day or two longer, I would still be there. Or perhaps I'd just be homesick for my own home cooking? As I sit here in my cozy leggings with a pot of pumpkin rooibos tea, it's fun to imagine being hundreds of miles away from the city that inspires my food for another few days. But after a long summer and a fall that's disappearing faster than my cup of pumpkin-spice coffee, I'm fully prepared emotionally and physically to curl up for a long winter of hibernation and creativity.
If there's one thing I've learned about creativity during eight-plus years of writing vegan cookbooks, it's that while vigorous exercise keeps those cooking skills muscular and flexible, they require equally important periods of rest for optimal growth. My interest in food lives not just in the matters of pleasure (vegan food must be enjoyable) and health (it should often be healthy, providing a diverse range of nutrients), but also in the belief that it should feed the curiosity of creative, adventurous cooks.
And if that's the case, then this year I've been the cookbook author's equivalent of a gym rat. Vegan Eats World, my second solo cookbook (and number six counting all titles), felt like running the New York City marathon after cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 300, only spread out over many months. Immediately after handing in my manuscript, I've yet to spend two weekends in a row at home; instead I've made another round of visiting and presenting at vegetarian food festivals and other food-related events in the U.S. and beyond.
I'm not complaining! I'm just excited to reconnect with the slow, often prosaic, even occasionally boring part of creativity. As I batten down these next few days along with the rest of the city and make my new favorite twist on pumpkin soup (see me tomorrow!), I'll savor every quiet moment of it.
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Terry Hope Romero is a vegan chef and author of several bestselling and award-winning cookbooks. She contributes to VegNews‘s “Hot Urban Eats” column and has hosted the public access/podcast vegan cooking show the Post Punk Kitchen. She lives in Queens, New York.
Books mentioned in this post
Terry Hope Romero is the author of Vegan Eats World: 250 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet