Food and Family with Candace Walsh

Candace Walsh opens up about food, politics, sexy chefs, and culinary birthrights.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

October 09 2012 3:00 AM ET

Candace Walsh is an out lesbian author, blogger, and burgeoning foodie. She’s a food blogger for AfterEllen, and next month will release her first memoir, Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity. The mother of two, who married her partner of 10 years last year in Hudson, N.Y., spoke to The Advocate from her home in Santa Fe, N.M.

The Advocate: Tell me a little bit about the book. What inspired you to write it?
Candace Walsh: When I read Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, in 1997, I was like, Wow, I think that’s great the way that a recipe is just kind of mixed in with personal storytelling. Society wasn’t ready for [a memoir like] it, culture wasn’t ready for it. You’d read a book and it would read exactly like the author’s life, and it would be fiction, but there would be this secondary consciousness that was like, Oh, that’s exactly what happened in their life. I talked to a writer friend that I respected a lot, but he was kind of autocratic and said, “No one would want to read that.” And then this whole food memoir boom happened in the last 10 years or so, and this has been percolating for a long time, since at the time I was in my mid 20s, and I needed to accumulate fodder for my book.

Where did the recipes come from throughout the book?
They are a mixture of family recipes, going back three generations. I have a really great mix of ancestry, Greek, Cuban, Irish, and German, so I was able to mine family recipes that were beloved. It was interesting, because I’ve always been kind of cut off from my Greek family, not for any particular reason. But I started reaching out on Facebook and I was able to connect with one cousin who said, “Oh, the spanakopita recipe died with Aunt Christina.” And then I talked to my other cousin Stephanie, and she was like, “Oh, I’ve got that recipe!” So I was able to get it to the other cousin. My great-great-grandmothers were from Crete, and they used mint in their spanakopita, which is kind of a regional thing.

I talk a lot about The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, and [though] I didn’t include a recipe, I wanted to point people to it, and I think that people will be inspired to go pick up that book.

Do you consider yourself a foodie?
Yes, definitely, but not hard-core. I’d hate to get a pop quiz about — are you really a foodie? [Laughs] ’Cause I just kind of come to it organically, like, what speaks to me. It’s not like, oh, my God, this is my personality, I’d have to get into … molecular gastronomy.

You married your partner of 10 years last year in New York. Congratulations!
Thank you! I made my own wedding cake, which was really meaningful to me. I did use the Cake Bible chocolate cake recipe and a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. My wife, Laura, loves chocolate, so that’s her part of [the cake, but] what’s my part of it? I thought and thought about it, and finally I came up with a Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey cake. Not ice cream, but just the banana, the chocolate, and the walnut. People were like, “That is awesome!” I kind of had to make it happen because [everyone was wondering], “How would this taste in a cake?” [The wedding was on] October 1, and we love Thanksgiving so much — Laura loves food too, but not as geekily as I do — so we served everyone Thanksgiving dinner at the reception with family recipes.

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