Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pizza in Baltimore

 by Susan Fillion

Urban independent bookstores are rapidly disappearing, which makes The Children’s Bookstore in Baltimore all the more wonderful. It sits on a quiet street, across from the post office, a florist on one side and a gift shop (another relic) on the other. Children walk down the hill from school and flop on the floor to read in the afternoon. The shop is sunny, colorful, stuffed with books floor to ceiling and the small staff knows each title inside out. Joann Fruchtman (pictured here with the pizza Margherita that was served at the event) started the business decades ago, and has known David Godine forever. It was Jo who introduced me to David and I remain enormously grateful.

Last week, I gave my first talk on my new book, Pizza in Pienza, there. Speaking to an audience that includes very young children is new to me and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But nobody cried, fell asleep, or walked out – (of course, there was the lure of real pizza afterwards!) – so I guess it went well enough. I read a few pages in English and Italian, spoke a bit about the history of pizza, and offered a brief Italian lesson. Since everyone knows a few Italian words – (pizza, macaroni, cello, gelato, Leonardo da Vinci) – and there are many Italian words that sound quite similar to their English counterparts – (generazioni, principale, tradizionale, famiglia, antico) -- it was easy and amusing to engage everyone there.

At the end of my talk, a tiny little girl with the name of an Italian town walked up to inspect one of the framed illustrations I had brought. She tapped on the glass a few times and then looked up at me with a quizzical expression. It took me a few seconds to realize that she thought it was a tablet screen! Mamma mia! Another reason to salute independent bookstores everywhere.

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