Creamy and Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food



No speaking engagements are planned. The whole project is kind of in mothballs at this point, but if you want me to speak at your bookstore, library or bachelorette party, drop me a line.



Thursday, December 13, 2012, 7 p.m.:
Glendale Public Library, 222 E. Harvard Street, Glendale, California 91205, (818) 548-2030

This was the first solo event I did for "Creamy and Crunchy." It had an interesting genesis: Lora Martinolich, a librarian at Glendale Public, has the same masseuse I do (Linda Ferrero, who works in the Atwater section of Los Angeles, and who is a masseuse par excellence). In effect, Linda passed notes between the two of us and the event was born.

I spoke for a little more than an hour and a half, including audience questions. I was a little nervous, but crack technician Ara was there to help me out. Chuck Wike and Joe Olivares of GPL allowed me to practice with the equipment two days ahead of time, which was very helpful. And Lora graciously introduced me and served as mistress of ceremonies.

After the talk, we had juice and excellent peanut butter cookies from the Echo Lake Coffee Company on Alvarado, just off of Sunset (it used to be the Downbeat Cafe). It was a good evening.


Saturday, December 22, 2-4 p.m. PST, 5-7 p.m. EST
Firedoglake Book Salon

To my way of thinking, as a leftish-liberal sort, Firedoglake is the premier political blog and website on the internet. Their book salons ordinarily involve the most august of progressive political writers: think Chris Hedges, Greg Palast, Paul Krugman, David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, Sibel Edmonds, Steve Coll, etc.

But every now and then, they take a walk on the light side, and that's where yours truly comes in. As a long-time member of the Firedoglake community, it was an honor to be selected for an FDL Book Salon.


Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.:
Mid-Manhattan Public Library, 455 5th Ave. at 40th St., 6th floor
New York, NY 10016, (212) 340-0837

This was part of the "Lunchtime: NYC" lecture series, whose speakers have included Mark Kurlansky, Andrew F. Smith and others. We had 100 people in the audience on a cold early new year evening, including family members, with whom I went out for Chinese with afterwards. There were a lot of good questions and Columbia's Peter Barrett was on hand to sell 5 or 6 books.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 7 p.m.:
Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101, (626) 449-5320

Vroman's is the grand-daddy of Southern California independent bookstores, and a plum location to do a reading and signing. There were 27 people in the audience, making it numerically the smallest of my 3 solo appearances so far. However, because the crowd was liberally sprinkled with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, I think I sold as many books as I did at the Glendale Public Library and Mid-Manhattan Library combined.


Thursday, February 7, 12:15 p.m.
Los Angeles Central Library, 630 West Fifth St., Los Angeles, CA 90071, (213) 228-7000

This is an intermittent series of lunchtime readings by LA authors. Sheryn Morris, a stalwart of the Literature and Fiction Department and friend, was instrumental in setting this up. We had a small but spirited crowd (well, Tom Stempel and Sheryn were spirited, at any rate), and librarian Helene Mochedlover manned the cash register, selling two books. Stephen King, look to your laurels!


Saturday, April 20, 2:30 p.m.
Arkansas Literary Festival
Central Arkansas Library System
Main Library, 5th Floor, Lee Room
100 Rock St.
Little Rock, AR 72201

The Arkansas Literary Festival has been held every April for the last 10 years in Little Rock. I hadn't been in Arkansas since 1978, when I spent eight miserable months working as a copy editor at the Texarkana Gazette. I gave two talks: one to students at J.A. Fair High School in Little Rock and one at the Literary Festival. You can get all the details by reading my April 24, 2013 blog post, "What Happened at the Arkansas Literary Festival."


Saturday, May 11, 2013, 10:30 a.m.:
Culinary Historians of Southern California
Los Angeles Central Library, 630 West 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071, (213) 228-7000

CHSC is the leading group of culinary historians in Southern California. I was quite nervous beforehand, as it meets in the Taper Auditorium of the Central public library in downtown Los Angeles; speaking there is kind of like playing at Center Court. Fortunately, it went over well -- the audience was appreciative, and afterward, the board of the Culinary Historians took me out for a dim sum lunch at Ocean Seafood in Chinatown, where I ran into one of my ESL students!


Saturday June 14, 2014, 11 a.m.
Surfas, 8777 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 559-4770

This was my only appearance at a cooking supplies store. Maybe because I'm not an actual foodie, I felt a little uncomfortable, but the audience was receptive and we sold three books.

Selected Works