It's good fortunate for all, then that in the Great Blog Fire-nado my introductory blog was lost, burned to the ground, I'm told, ashes like Margaret Mitchell's original house (from what I know, she never actually resided in what's now labeled The Margaret Mitchell House-but then, I don't know that much) .
Good fortune for me, as well-at least in terms of grouping myself amongst the growing legion of really, really good writers that all gather together here. Last time, if you'll recall (and you probably don't-I don't fault you for that at all!), I said that I felt a bit sheepish (read as: very, very much like a nervous, antsy sheep) being labeled a "southern author". I write, kinda-in that new form of journalistic-ish-ness that's called, a bit sarcastically, "blogging". I'm southern-I mean, I live in Decatur, Georgia.
That was where, when last we spoke, the Venn diagram overlapping ended. Lo and behold, surprise surprise, I was wrong-you and I, we're not so different after all.
We both have a love affair with biscuits.
I learned this the good, old-fashioned way-through experience. For the past few months, I've been attempting to put together what we in the book-selling industry call "a book event that will make money and also make people happy and leave them feeling wonderful". I know it's a hefty and scientific term, but what can I say- it's necessary, and the book-selling biz is nothing if not, uh, hefty...and...scientific?
When I saw that Delia Champion, owner and chef of the Flying Biscuit cafe, one of those pretty-much-vital-to-the-Georgia-experience nook-ish dining establishments, had a new cook book coming out, I did the bookstore publicist thing, waved my magic wand, and conjured up an event with Delia here at Wordsmiths Books.
(Now, I'd like to point out that in no way shape or form does my job involve magic wands, unless Amy Sedaris is involved. However, since anytime folks wander through and ask things like "so can you get Tom Brokaw to make cupcakes with Alexander McCall Smith? My book club of four ladies who play canasta would LOOOOOVE it" I have the distinct impression that magic wands are in the popular conscious in regards to bookstore author events, I don't want to break anyone's spangly gossamer unicorn dreams.)
Actually, given the fact that The Flying Biscuit has (to some misplaced discontent) recently opened itself up to franchise and that, as such, Delia Champion had been running herself ragged attempting to make sure the newly opened Biscuit locations, the "cookbook launch" event here at the store actually took place about a month or two after the book actually released, but pay that no mind. What matters is that, on a cool Sunday afternoon here at the end of October, Delia Champion of the Flying Biscuit (assisted by one of her catering folk, whose name slips my too-sieve-like memory, and armed with fluffy flying biscuits, cran-apple butter, hummingbird cupcakes, and more...a seemingly endless variety of the beloved treats and tasties) drew a crowd of around 50 here to the store, of all demographics, all united in one thing:
Delia brought warmth, she brought wit, she brought a hell of a lot of inspiration for those of us involved in this crazy idea of DIY Decaturism (she opened the Flying Biscuit on a wing and a prayer...Wordsmiths Books opened on the same).
Most importantly, though, as I've already said: she brought biscuits. (Delia Champion discusses The Flying biscuit on Wordsmiths Books' stage, decked out for Halloween. No, we just don't clean. No, really, it was Halloween.)Those delicious, light-as-feather biscuits, the uniting force amongst the Eggers readers and the egg eaters, the fans of Proust and the lovers of mass-market thrillers and everyone in between. When I was introducing Delia, my original idea was to regale the gathered crowd, which grew ever moment, with a story of a break-up that happened to me several years back, and how a very good friend took me for the first time to The Flying Biscuits original (and, in my opinion, best) location in Candler Park to drown my woes in that addictive cran-apple butter.
Thank god I decided to simply let the food do the talking.
My girlfriend's Lucy's family was visiting from their home in Maine, and they were as captivated by these heavenly little baked goods as were those of us who grew up with 'em as a back-of-your-brain comfort food-something you always know is there when you need it.
That Sunday afternoon was really a joyous day to be a fan of the decidedly-Southern comforts of The Flying Biscuit. It was a joyous day in general, really-folks eating food, discussing dreams made reality, and generally having a pretty darn great time.
That was when I realized I get to wear that Southerner merit badge with pride-I do, I do, because I'm part of that collective that derives pride, comfort and solace from what is arguably the south's finest achievement in the culinary world thus far: the damn-near-perfect biscuit, and our love for it. If biscuits made noise, let's face it: they'd be the soundtrack to many a life's moment here in the south. And that's a simple, tasty truth.
Hot, flaky, fluffy, buttery, it's the best kind of love: Biscuit Lovin'. It's like Janet Evanovich, only with more buttermilk.
Russ Marshalek is, happily enough, still the marketing and publicity director for Wordsmiths Books, the largest independent bookstore in the state of Georgia, located in Decatur. He retains this title despite his above disclosure that his job does not, in fact, require use of a magic wand. He blogs regularly for the store blog.
He also has realized that he's become more fond of the term "book shoppe" than "book store" and as such will begin using the former. Possibly.