An Interview with Writing Studies Director Tenaya Darlington
What is your current writing project? (Or do you have a link to a recent publication you’d like to share with our grad students?)
I spend a lot of my time off campus writing about food – especially for Edible Philly, a magazine devoted to the local restaurant scene and to the area’s food culture. My focus until recently has been cheese — my last book was The Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese, an artisan cheese guide with recipes. It came out in 2013, and I hosted more than 60 tastings and book signings to promote it. After that, I was approached by my publisher, Running Press, to write a guide to cocktails. Luckily, I have a deep affinity for mixed drinks!
I’ve spent the last year and a half writing The New Cocktail Hour: The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Drinks, which will be released in April, 2016. My brother, Andre, and I co-authored it; he lives near Chicago and writes a cocktail column. Since we live 900 miles apart, we spent a lot of time on Skype with our cocktail shakers, testing recipes. We trained with a Chicago bartender and tested more than 250 cocktails to create an ultimate guide that’s organized by eras – so you can try pre-Prohibition cocktails or explore WW II cocktails. Cocktails are an American invention, so we wanted to put their incredible history into context.
My favorite cocktail of the moment is an Aviation, invented in honor of Emilia Earhart. It contains Plymouth gin (1 ¾ ounce), Luxardo (1/4 ounce), lemon juice (3/4 ounce), crème de violette (1 or 2 teaspoons), and simple syrup (1/4 ounce), plus a lemon twist.
What are you reading, for work or pleasure?
Susan Orlean, who writes for The New Yorker, is one of my favorite journalists – I love her curiosity and her painterly line-by-line writing. This semester, I’m teaching her book Saturday Night in my Practice of Writing class. In it, she investigates Saturday night rituals, and she travels around the country to profile people doing their Saturday night thing, from polka dancers to small-town cruisers to suburban babysitters. I love writers who can capture everyday stories and make them feel extraordinary.
What are you listening to (music/podcast/radio program)?
On my way to work, I listened to Kishi Bashi on Spotify. I’ve become obsessed with podcasts and usually listen to a couple a day, too – most recently, I’ve become infatuated with Home of The Brave and Local Mouthful. The latter is a new podcast by one of our Writing Studies graduates, Marisa McClellan.
When you’re not on campus, where’s your happy place?
At a cheese counter, sampling a salty blue.