Baffled and bewildered, Ria and I recently figured out we have been blogging here together for FOUR YEARS. That’s right. Longer than the average age of a pet hamster. Four whole years of diligently writing and cooking and photographing and sharing in this space, for you and for each other. It’s certainly been a journey. Wishing for a real, live, in-person catch up, but thwarted by geography, time and finances, we’ve had to opt for the next best thing – a blog catch up.
Join us to review the last few years and peek into what we hope for the future. Plus, check out each of our top four posts and tell us which posts you liked best. We love hearing from you, as always.
Give us a quick rundown on what’s changed in your life since Fork and Fiction began in July 2012.
Hannah: So, so, so much. I seem to have done several things in threes? I now have three children, three published books and since 2012 have moved countries three times. I do not plan to keep up the baby production or the country moving.
Ria: It feels like forever ago that we started this! And that, yes, we were different people in huge ways. I only had one kid, little e (and she was reeeally little), and now we have The Tiger as well. My second book was published the year after we started Fork & Fiction, and both books were nominated for awards, requiring cross-country travel and many amazing writer-connections. I’ve felt my writing community grow hugely in the past few years, which is so rewarding and inspiring.
What’s surprised you about doing the blog? Hannah – Challenges? Ria – Loves?
Hannah: There are certainly challenges to writing a blog. Creating content – words and pictures – fortnight after fortnight, in the midst of an already full life, is challenging and time-consuming. Plus, Fork & Fiction is a collaboration – it’s hard for any two partners in a collaboration to grow in the same direction, to continue to be fulfilled in the same way. Ria and I have been together in this project longer than most Hollywood marriages. And it’s a long distance relationship! It takes hours of our time and the rewards we get from it are not tangible. But – we thought of a thing and we made it happen. We continue to make it happen. The dedication and perseverance we have shown to each other and this blog over these four years makes me very proud.
Ria: I really appreciate how connected I feel, not only to Hannah, but to the wider world of creators, parents, readers and bloggers and eaters… This blog started as a way to parallel our Mama + Writer + Food-lover lives from different hemispheres, and provide discussion, support and encouragement to one another. But it’s done much more than that. Fork & Fiction has connected me to such wonderful people from all over the world. It makes me feel much more a part of the living, breathing macrocosm of humanity. It’s a reprieve from the day, from the other writing I do, from the swirling thoughts in my head. I’ve been able to have conversations with people that are sparked by something in a blog post, and that’s pretty powerful–seeing your work so quickly impact someone else and make its way back to you, having grown into something more. It’s what we novelists are secret (not not-so-secret) addicts of: connecting with and affecting readers through our stories. Blogging does that, but without the two year wait for publication.
Top foods for 2016. What can’t you stop eating or telling other people to eat?
Ria: Bonnat Chocolate, but that’s cheating because I’ve been eating it for a few years (still worth a mention, though. Best chocolate ever.). Basil vinaigrette (watch for the blog post…), lavender honeycake, homemade sauerkraut, sometimes with added hot sauce to make a cheater kimchi.
Hannah: This year, so far, I’ve been addicted to the spice and jam of Belgian biscuits, the sour and sweet of pomegranate molasses (I’m still figuring out all the ways to utilize it), the perfection that is Lewis Road butter and the INSANELY good kouignn amann made by Sonoma Bakery for the launch of A French Wedding in Sydney, Australia.
Best book you’ve read in the last four years. Okay, that’s like having to pick a favourite child, so how about best fiction book and best cookbook?
Ria: It’s hard to choose, but I’ll say The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s such a sweeping, historical, lyrical and poignant book. There’s the added layer of knowing Elizabeth Gilbert’s own story as a writer (and ace TED speaker), and it felt more personal to read her words, this woman who has encouraged millions of people to find their creative curiosity. I could see and feel how her own creative curiosity had led her to the story through the immense research she undertook. It’s actually inspired me to research more thoroughly and really get immersed in the world of a story before I even write it.
I’d say the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook tops my list because of two things: it’s practical–there are so many recipes that I keep going back to, that work so well–and it’s really well-written. That’s something I think we strive for here at F&F–writing honest, thought-provoking and engaging content, whether it’s to go with our recipes or just to muse about writing/life/kids. Of course, the beautiful photographs Deb Perelman takes are another big win for me.
Hannah: Potiki by Patricia Grace is the best fiction book I have read in the last four years for many reasons including: it’s utterly unique, it is written by an all-round impressive person (mother, teacher, activist) and discovering Patricia Grace coincided with coming home to New Zealand. I now associate her work with that. It is not enough to say that all of Grace’s work is set in New Zealand. Grace’s work is New Zealand and New Zealand is Grace’s work. I’m befuddling you, I know, you’ll just have to read her books and learn about her to understand what I mean.
As for the best cookbook I’d probably pick Maggie Beer’s Maggie’s Harvest. It’s huge and beautiful and covered with embroidered cloth. She divides the recipes into sections based on seasons and then single ingredients within those sections e.g. figs, oranges, duck etc. Because I get most of recipes online these days – it’s just easier – I want my cookbooks to be grand, inspiring and timeless. Maggie’s Harvest ticks those boxes.
What blogs do you frequent and love right now?
Hopes and dreams for the future. In your life and in the life of the blog.
Hannah: Eeek. Them’s big questions. For the blog I hope that it continues to teach and challenge me, and connect Ria and I with others. I hope for more discussion, feedback and collaboration. Mostly, I hope that what we talk about resonates with others, that at the very least it continues to offer readers joy. For my life – I have to say I feel very lucky already. I love my work, the big, crazy family I’ve co-created, this blog and my community (both real and virtual); I know how fortunate I am and I intend to appreciate and nourish every blessing. Once B3, the gorgeous Bonnie, is bigger I’m looking forward to shoe-horning in some more exercise, new writing, collaborative work projects and travel. Could life get any better than that? I’m not sure. I’ve been very surprised by life so far. Perhaps that’s what my hope is – for life to keep surprising me. For my part I’ll keep my eyes and arms wide open and promise to work hard and be grateful. Deal?
Ria: I hope we can keep posting about things that interest and inspire us and expand our online community. I also hope the blog can grow, as we all do, and reflect our new loves and passions. It’s so exciting to have a project this seasoned and wonder where it can go next. And I, too, would love more collaboration and connection with other bloggers or writers; it’s so much fun when we get together. In my life, I just hope for sweetness. The kind that makes great memories, of course, but also the kind that softens the edges of the rough spots. DH and I are both fans of a bittersweet story, maybe because it’s the truest, the most poetic reflection of life (because poetry is crystalized truth). So I’d like to save up some sweetness–the abundance that overflows when the kids make each other laugh or the raspberries give us a bumper crop or DH and I get an evening alone to remember who we are by looking at each other. It’s all so sweet, and spread evenly over the difficult times, it makes everything a little easier.
Now, Top 4 Blog posts you’ve written–since it’s been 4 years…
Hannah: The four posts I enjoyed writing the most were:
Much love from us both–thank you for being here and being you.
Hannah & Ria