Today was the day of the book signing. I hadn’t exactly decided what to do this morning, whether or not to go, whether or not to speak. We have a friend who works in the cafe of the bookstore where Rachael Ray was due to do the signing today. She said she’d try and get us one of the 300 wristbands which were being given out so that I didn’t have to drag the kids in to the mall and line up for half the day. So as instructed I called her at 9am and she told me to call back at 1pm, as the bands were being handed out from noon.
I then I packaged up the girls, after a number of false starts, and we were all set to head off to The Children’s Museum. The phrase “Closed Mondays” popped into my head from out of nowhere, which I thought was pretty impressive as I barely know what month it is at the moment, never mind what day of the week it is. I checked online and, lo and behold, Little A was to be disappointed; the museum was closed. We left the house anyway, knowing only that coffee would figure strongly wherever our destination may be. Little A opted for playing on a trainset, so back to the Mall of America we went.
It turned out to be a pretty fortuitous decision; I saw our friend at around 11am and it turned out that she wouldn’t be able to get us the wristbands after all. I pretty much resigned myself to ending the year with our recipe book as unsigned as when we began; I couldn’t handle waiting anywhere with two fidgety children. However I was amazed to realise that the army of people sitting in their lawn chairs playing cards already had wristbands and were waiting to be the first people to meet Rachael Ray. The signing started 8 hours later. I strolled past the table and got myself a wristband. Easy; I was now one of the chosen 300.
After a slightly bonkers day where I seriously doubted my ability to be a sane stay at home mother of two, I made Pork Chops in a Sweet Chili and Onion Sauce with Creamy Cilantro Potato Salad while L bathed Little A and put her to bed. It was easy and tasted extremely good. The pork chops were seasoned with salt and pepper, caramelised in the pan then finished in the oven. The sauce was made with red onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder and brown sugar, joined after a few minutes of sautéing with chicken stock then butter. The cooked potatoes were made into a salad with mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, red onions, garlic, celery, red pepper, cilantro, salt and pepper.
Initially I thought that the liquidity of the sauce was at odds with the creamy potato salad, but actually this was a very good combination. Perhaps I was having a seasonal issue; the pork and sauce seems to be very wintery food, whilst potato salad screams summer, in my mind at least. The sauce was tangy and rich, I could imagine that it would have also made a good relish had there been less liquid. Given our aversion to cilantro, and my dislike of mayonnaise, raw onion and raw garlic, I was not particularly excited about the potato salad. I have to say it surprised me; there was enough contrasting tastes, textures and colours to make it seem like a fresh and gratifying new interpretation of potato salad.
All in all this was a very pleasant meal, although I ate in maybe ten minutes so I could drive off into the darkness with Baby N. Back to the mall we went, and I headed straight for coffee. The baby was still sleeping so I took a chance by not feeding her- although I was fearful that she’d wake up screaming just as we got to the head of the line. I took a bizarre pride in being the last person in the line for a while, texting L to say that “I is a slacker”. Everything moved quickly, I was maybe there for half an hour before it was my turn to do the meet and greet thing.
As I got up on the stage to meet Rachael, I glanced behind me and noticed that I was no longer the second last person in the line, I was now the third last. Santa had just joined the queue. When Rachael looked up and said “Hi Santa” I felt a mild panic; what if she only chatted with Santa while she signed my books? What if they had a long discussion about the perils of Christmas shopping? I would have no choice but to just leave the stage, silently, and curse my shyness in the comfort of my own minivan. So I quickly launched into some badly thought out, terribly delivered ramble about how it might sound strange but my husband and I are visual artists and we consider her to be a cultural icon and how we’ve done a couple of projects about her and in one we are cooking our way through the book she’s signing and we have been doing so since January 1st and could I leave a card with our website on because I wasn’t going to come but some of our readers, oh did I mention it was a blog, said I should come so here I am, and er thanks. And remarkably she was very polite and lovely and charming and didn’t call the stalker police, and said she’d love to hear more and we should send her some information. Then we had a normalish chat with one of her staff about how babies are an automatic reason to get to the front of the line, and I said I’ll remember for next time and then I went on my merry way.
I’m really pleased that I went and shook the hand of a real live celebrity personality. It must be ridiculously strange to be famous. People were standing all around and on the balconies above incessantly taking photographs and shouting down to Rachael. I like to think that I’m not particularly starstruck but I couldn’t really help myself from getting the camera out. It’s like a compulsion to document yourself, the normal person, with X the famous person, in a ‘look I was there, at that moment in history when a celebrity was there too’ sort of way. It’s particularly odd because essentially people were documenting someone demonstrating the art of, or at least the results of, being famous. It would be far less weird if the crowd were going nuts for a chef actually cooking, but because she was signing books it was like going crazy for the packaging rather than the contents, if that doesn’t sound dirty, or weird.
Tomorrow we are having Asian Pinwheel Steaks with Noodle and Cabbage Sauté. Maybe there’ll be pictures of our tattered but freshly signed book too.