I love Madison, Wisconsin!
First of all, my dear friend and blogger, Kate, lives there. When I was first invited to come to Madison for the Book Festival, I imagined I would be bedding down at the local Motel 8. Luckily, Kate moved last month from Juneau to a charming apartment on the isthmus. And, she’s found work doing gardening. I spent one day with her deadheading, harvesting apples and kale, eating grapes, and weeding said grapes. We found lots of mushrooms while working.
Second of all, Madison is a really cool town. Lots of cafes and bars. We had great food–crepes and coffee downtown, cheese from Fromagination, and foraged apples (Wisconsin apples are as good as those from Washington State).
Third of all, the wonderful Lee of Pamplemousse Preserves. She came to my reading, introduced herself, and thrust jars of preserves into my hands. Oh my god, the tomato jam with nigella seeds is unbelievably good! We ended up spending time at her new cafe, Ironworks Cafe at the John Goodman Center, which is a neat new community center in Madison. Holy god, the fresh English muffins. Yummers.
Finally, my reading at A Room of One’s One, was really fun. Packed room, lots of laughter, great intro from Robert Pierce of Growing Power Madison, Michelle Widgen, and an enthusiastic, food-obsessed audience. It was the first time an audience member asked me specific details about the meat curing process. And how lucky they are in Madison: the chilly temps are perfect for hanging meat at home.
On my trip back to the airport, the cab driver told me he was reading Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year. So he could compare Defoe’s experience with the Plague versus today’s Swine flu epidemic. Not your typical town….
P.S. I also traveled to Chicago and Milwaukee, mostly to meet farmers and see urban farms. As I tour around, I’ll be showing slides of stuff I saw at these particular farms.