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PAPER/PLATES is a
literary food blog, for readers with good taste.

At The Table With...Emily Fiffer of DailyCandy Chicago

Today we're sweet on 31-year-old Emily Fiffer, the lovely senior editor of Daily Candy Chicago. I've had the pleasure of meeting Emily for coffee a couple of times and I can't say enough nice things about her. She's friendly, intelligent, stylish and confident. She's also the person responsible for the clever and informative posts you see in your inbox every day. For Chicagoans, Emily is a constant source of the best new places to eat, shop and explore around our lovely city. Not only can she recommend a great spot for a lunch date, she'll also have recently read some books you can discuss as you munch. And, in case you didn't know, Emily is also one of the creators of Fête, a pop-up night market here in Chicago.

Read on to get to know Emily!

What is your all-time favorite book?

This question is impossible. Right now, I'm going with Stoner by John Williams, with shout-outs to What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (Paul Auster's wife!), Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf, and An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler.

What meal do you love to cook?

Anything that involves a prior trip to the farmer's market. Right now, I'm into eggplant every which way. Roasted, with fresh herbs, grains, and Moroccan spices is my current go-to. 

What is your favorite food scene from a book?

The Dutchess Bakes a Cake! The entire book. (I'm aware that I'm 31 and have named two children's books so far…I'm probably immature for my age.) The Dutchess tries to bake 'a lovely light luscious delectable cake,' adds too much leavening, and you can guess what happens. Still as awesome as it was when I was 4.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.

What is the last book you abandoned?

I feel guilt writing this, but I tried reading Dearie, a Julia Child biography, and couldn't get through it. Biographies fascinate me, but this one left almost too little to the imagination. I don't need fake dialogue — just an honest, well-researched look into someone's life. You've got to maintain an element of mystery. There's no fun in overstating. 

Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?

Hands down, Calvin Trillin. We wouldn't stick to one restaurant, or one meal — that's not Calvin's style. Instead, he'd whisk me away on a Midwest food tour (he was born in Kansas City). We'd hit all of his go-to dives (he's not into fancy), and obviously we'd drive so he could tell me stories and make me laugh along the way. Calvin, if you're reading this, I love you. I'll pay for gas.

Where do you go to find new recipes? New reads?

Ooh, fun question! I'm inspired by so many things when it comes to cooking — the farmer's market in spring/summer/fall in particular. I'm a big recipe-maker-upper, but when I'm searching for ideas, I crack my cookbooks (I've been making an effort to use books over blogs and it's been amazing so far). My favorites right now are Plenty and Jerusalem by Ottolenghi, Tender by Nigel Slater, and The Flavor Thesaurus by Niki Segnit (the last one is such a gem, and was given to me by one of my closest friends and cooking companions. I highly recommend it! The British have a way with words).

Book-wise, I frequently look to my grandma and mom, who share my love for Alice Munro, family sagas (see: Joyce Carol Oates), and character studies. My newest obsession, the New Yorker Fiction podcast, has introduced me to a million authors I can't wait to delve into. And I love, love, love the Newberry Library's annual book fair. It's full of treasures and I always come home with a load of weathered books with someone else's name scrawled in the front page. 

Tell us about your blog—what inspires it? Why do you blog? What are your favorite aspects of it?

I've been the Chicago Editor of DailyCandy for seven years. It's my full-time gig, and I feel extremely lucky to have it. It doesn't just pay the bills — it allows me a life of doing what I love: exploring the city's ins and outs and meeting all sorts of creative people. It's connected me to Chicago in ways I never could have imagined. I love DailyCandy because it's written by the most hilarious, genuinely smart women I've ever met. I'm constantly in awe of what the editors dig up. It's all thanks to Dany Levy, who created the site way back in 2001 as a way to tell her friends about her NYC discoveries. It's grown so much since then, but I love that we've maintained our sense of humor and good taste throughout. Also, we're fastidious fact-checkers, which is rarer these days than anyone would like to admit. :)

What are your favorite blogs?

Eesh. Perhaps my first book should just be a list of blogs I read. Summary of hits, food-wise: Lottie + Doof, My New Roots, Deliciously Ella, Simply Breakfast, Manger, Sous Style, Nourish, Lemon Fire Brigade, Healthy Green Kitchen. And PAPER/PLATES, of course! I could keep going but I'll stop myself. I'm addicted.

Connect with Emily: Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram

My Favorite Kitchen Tools

My Favorite Kitchen Tools

Aminatta Forna's The Hired Man & Apple-Walnut Fritters

Aminatta Forna's The Hired Man & Apple-Walnut Fritters