I, Elana, recently traveled to three Southern Season locations in Charleston, SC, Chapel Hill, NC, and Richmond VA. There, at one of the most impressive gourmet food stores I have visited to date (and I've been to a few, I have a wee bit of a problem with frequenting them), I taught pizza cooking classes for Colavita and signed the book that I wrote for them, Top Your Pizza.
Before you say all the things like, "That's amazing!!" and "You're famous!" and "Can I get your autograph?" Let me assure you that, in order:
It is amazing and underwhelming at the same time; I'm only famous in my own mind; and yes, am I signing a check for you?
Let's be clear: I this was a fantastic opportunity. I love teaching cooking classes and my hosts at Southern were so gracious - the whole experience was a treat.
But I want to instill some reality into the experience, for those who have been watching Facebook and think it's all autographs and pizza dough.
As an author, no one knows who I am. Which is fine! A lot of authors fly under the radar. But especially me. So, when you're sitting in the middle of the cookbook aisle, surrounded by volumes by The Barefoot Contessa and Mario Batali with a stock of TOP YOUR PIZZA books and a pen, don't expect the crowds to come flocking.
In Chapel Hill, I managed to sign a total of two books for a very nice lady who had a wood-fired oven in her backyard. As I was smiling up at her, grateful for her request, she said to me with an understanding look in her eye, "I've done book signings with my author friend. I get it."
In Richmond, I signed one for a lady who really wanted to know how to make biscuits, not pizza. I'm still wondering why she bought my book.
One very old and tiny man approached me an commented on how nice my "seated posture" was.
One lady asked me if the wines go on sale every first Monday of the month.
Someone else asked me where the bathroom was.
When I had food in front of me, I received more visitors, some coming back for seconds. Not of me, of the pizza samples.
I did, however, get a really cool sign:
And I read a bunch of other people's cookbooks. Like this one, all about toast:
And this one that had me asking the question, "Do people really look like that, live in a French farmhouse and have disturbingly beautiful children while they pass the hours writing epic cookbooks and twirling their skirts in fields of lavender? Where IS that bathroom anyway? I have to go drown my head in the toilet..."
There was this one about my second love, after pizza:
And then my hour was up and I got to teach. This is the fantastic part. The classes are always so much fun for me, and the reason I'm launching Zaza and the Perfect Pie. I love interacting with people and showing them how to make pizza.
I made three pizzas for them (you can find them all on the Colavita website with links below):
And they loved them. Each location had a different favorite with Charleston favoriting the Pea Pesto, Chapel Hill preferring the Strawberry and Richmond zany for the Zucchini.
We paired it all with a Marinated Strawberry and Watermelon Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios. And wine!
I told them stories...most of them were pizza related, they asked questions. I demonstrated home made dough, talked about ingredient pairings, seasonal produce and how small my apartment is...you know, the important stuff. I taught them how to say my last name. We even shot a small cooking video. And they are interested in my returning with the Zaza truck!
A good time was had by all. My hosts at Southern Season could not have been more accomodating. And I'm very grateful to Colavita for letting me run around the country in their name telling people I know how to make a good pie.
Pizza pie, that is. And I do.
And when I got home, I received this text from my mom. She's keeping it real.