Now, I’ve already squee’d about Jeff Potter’s new book, Cooking For Geeks – which is a featured item in our Geeky Gourmet Goody Basket. The book is selling like hotcakes! Our donation was actually delayed because his book had been sold out for over a month! Thankfully, we were able to get our hands on a few copies, thanks to the fearless determination of O’Reilly Media. Jeff also graciously agreed to take a few moments and answer five questions for me via email. Here’s his response:
Because it’s fun! Cooking is a great way to be creative while at the same time doing something that’s good for you. For me personally, I like to cook both as a way of making sure that I eat healthy and as a way of bringing friends together. We’re social creatures, and with so much of our time either working or sleeping, that pretty much leaves eating as the best way to hang out with others!
Do you have a writing process or routine?
Yes. This was actually amazingly important to understand. I had one of these “ah ha!” moments early on when starting the book. I’d run across a blog post where the blogger had looked at interviews with famous authors and looked at what they did in common. There were a few surprising things, at least, surprising at the time (in hindsight, it’s like “duh!” to the core ideas). All of the writers in their interviews talked about having a dedicated space for writing, and only doing writing in that space. They also were very consistent with their habits: some wrote in the mornings, some the afternoons, and some in the evenings; in a very routine way. A few wrote in more than one time slot a day, but none wrote in all three time spots. Morning was the most common—wake up, drink some coffee and read the paper (if they names a paper, it was usually the New York Times), and then get down to writing. As soon as I started doing this, I found writing became much, much easier.
There’s a great video online of John Cleese talking about it in much simpler language. I’ll probably get this partly wrong, since I’m quoting from memory, but he essentially says “you have to create both space and time for the creative process”—a space where other things won’t intrude; and ample time where interruptions won’t disturb. I completely agree.
What was your biggest cooking disaster?
I tried decanting a 2 liter bottle of soda without thinking about it. (I need the bottle to test the recipe for soda and didn’t want to waste the soda.) BIG mistake. The blast radius was about 10 feet in all directions. I have this great photo of me and some friends post-explosion just laughing and laughing and laughing.
You’ve gotten to interview some pretty cool people for your book. Does one in particular stand out? Was there one you weren’t able to get that you hope to find for CFG II?
Thanks. The interviews were really special for me. It’s rare to have an opportunity to call up some of these people and talk to them, but I felt that under the umbrella of it being “for a book” that it was okay. And people were amazingly generous with their time; I’m extremely grateful to their kindness. There are a few interviews that stand out for me, and those are the ones with the scientists and researchers that are at the top of their field. For all the debates about things like “which is better, stainless steel or carbon knives?”, having an answer from somebody who can tell you where the disagreements come from and how to test it… well, that’s just magical. I truly believe that anytime reasonable people are disagreeing about something that the root cause is a lack of understanding about the actual core thing. And maybe science doesn’t have an answer for the particular topic on hand yet, but it’s always a good bet that there’s something more to be understood if two reasonable people are still disagreeing!
If you were to suddenly find yourself in the League of Evil, what would you want your villian name to be?
Magnum Unicorn Plus.
All righty then. Thanks for the insights, Jeff!
Find out more about Jeff Potter online at http://www.cookingforgeeks.com/or @cookingforgeeks on Twitter