Today we're getting to know...me! After more than a year of At The Table With, I decided it was high time I answer the questions myself. In case you're new here: I'm Amina, founder of PAPER/PLATES. I spend my days as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune's Blue Sky Innovation site. I'll be 27 tomorrow. My favorite candy is Sour Patch Kids and I like to read on my lunch breaks.
I'm starting to feel self-conscious about interviewing myself, so let's jump into the questions...
What is your all-time favorite book, and why?
First, I'd like to apologize to everyone I've forced to answer this question. It's near impossible. My list of favorites has changed so much as I've added books to my "read" list over the years. Currently, I'm so absorbed in A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra that I can hardly imagine loving another book more. Then again, I have a thing for wartime novels. Perhaps I'm just in love with the subgenre?
What meal do you love to cook, and why?
I love cooking Pakistani dishes, and I try to do so about once a week. They take time and love and calls to my mother. I'm never a prouder cook than when I recreate a dish that takes me back home.
What is your favorite food scene from a book, and why?
So many of the food scenes in Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals are luscious celebrations of the fruit that seemingly drips from the limbs of trees and bushes in Corfu, Greece. There's nothing better to daydream about on a cold Chicago night.
Coffee or tea?
Tea, baby. My favorite brand is Five Roses, which I first tried in South Africa in 2009. Now I buy it off of Amazon! I enjoy coffee but I'm scared of becoming addicted to caffeine so I usually only indulge at brunch or if I'm really dragging.
What is the last book you abandoned, and why?
I have abandoned an insane number of books in the last couple of weeks. A selection: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman, American Neolithic by Terence Hawkins, All The Rage by A.L. Kennedy. The only explanation, I think, is a deep, deep rut.
Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
Currently, Anthony Marra. I want to meet him for something non-intimidating like tacos so I have an excuse to ask him how he crafted a novel so simultaneously chilling and beautiful in a casual setting. (Can you tell I'm obsessed?)
Where do you go to find new recipes?
I'm a Googler. I usually know my cravings and I search the Internet for them. That said, I pin recipes by the hundreds — and actually try a good number of them.
Where do you go to find new reads?
This is a toss-up. I love seeing what people are currently reading on Twitter and Instagram. Goodreads is also a great place to see what's trending, although I'm not as active there as maybe I should be. The Millions' book previews are my favorite place to get a pulse.
But my favorite source is still the shelves of a bookstore. Local, chain, whatever. I'm a sucker for covers. And loitering.
Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you blog, and your favorite aspects.
I started PAPER/PLATES during a time of transition. I was leaving the advertising job I'd had for two years to pursue a full-time return to journalism, my original love. I'd been learning to cook and blogging book reviews for a couple years and decided it was time to combine those two passions. I never expected so many talented people would want to be involved, and I also underestimated how much pleasure I'd derive from challenging myself to post several times a week. I hope (and expect) 2015 to hold even bigger and better things for this little space I think of not as mine, but as ours.
What are your favorite blogs, and why?
If I were to list all my favorite blogs, you'd be reading for days. I'll refer you to the ATTW listings, where you can see the plethora of bloggers I admire and have had the wonderful opportunity to interview.
Nicole Gulotta of Eat This Poem, Cara Nicoletti of Yummy Books and Nicole Villeneuve of Paper and Salt deserve special mentions because their blogs celebrate the intersection of food and literature so brilliantly. I am so often moved by their posts, and aspire to be as good as they are.