The Great Leap Forward

10534687_10152615869789824_1637491072072861403_nI’m a very modest dreamer. In the evenings when I slip away to the Land of Nod, I never find myself gifted with the power of flight. Instead, I am blessed with the more demure ability of jumping a little higher than those around me. When I dream of my ideal home, it’s never as sexy as an Italian villa or a penthouse suite. It’s just me discovering a hidden room in my existing apartment or finding myself with the strength to push out walls another three feet so that I might finally be able to fit a dining table into my living room. And when I daydream about my ideal mate, I don’t conjure up a handsome prince on a white steed. I envision someone who is sane and patient and possibly bespectacled. And not prone to sudden abandonment.

It’s the same with this blog. I’ve always regarded it, more or less, as my little one-bedroom apartment on the internet which I could gradually fill with photos and food and emotional souvenirs. I may use it as a soapbox from time to time, but I’ve never much thought of it as a platform. I am relieved that none of my posts have gone viral because I’ve suffered through enough viruses in my day, and none of them have been especially pleasant. I didn’t start this blog thinking it would be a quick springboard to a book deal. I definitely didn’t start it to become an internet celebrity because, well, that would be silly. And highly unlikely.

I started writing here because it fulfilled the dual need of creative expression and keeping myself sane.

A lot of good has come from this blog. It’s allowed me to find my voice and gain a better understand of myself, both good and bad. It’s brought fascinating people into my life. Made me a better writer. And it’s helped open up the world again to its author who once felt his walls closing in.

Over the past few months I’ve come to the conclusion that, not only is it time to realize my little dream and find the strength to push out those walls in both my life and in my writing, it’s time to start dreaming on a slightly larger scale.  To hell (for the moment) with my living room.

So I am writing a book.

It’s an overwhelming thing to take on such a project. I’ve been fortunate enough to have other offers over the past couple of years, but I never felt ready, so I’ve always politely declined. I still don’t feel completely prepared for the adventure, but then does one ever feel ready for such things? Do people typically have children only when they feel ready or do they just do it? (Please don’t answer that.)

I may not feel completely ready for my own literary baby, but I have recently discovered that I am pregnant with its possibility. And I am very glad to let people know that I will no longer tolerate being called a book(ish) virgin.

There is no due date as yet, but I have put myself in a specialist’s care. He’s helped deliver the spawn of people like Mollie Katzen, Augusten Burroughs, and Jackie Collins, so I feel I am in good hands. Thank you, Dr. Troha of Folio Literary Agency.

10440938_10152457716129824_1548761307530597636_nWe don’t know the sex yet, but I’ve already picked out a name: Martyrs in The Kitchen. It will be a cookbook, but I believe (as all parents do) that it will be a very special one. It will be a book of recipes based on the fascinating lives and horrifying deaths of Catholic saints and martyrs.

I’ve always wondered why Saint Patrick, Saint Valentine, and Saint Nicholas get all the attention when there are so many other saints worthy of celebration. And bribing with good food and drink. For many who read food blogs, cooking is a near-sacred act in itself, so why not take things one step further and curry favor with one of God’s Elect while you’re at it? There’s a saint to help you with (or protect you from) nearly everything.

Girlfriend afflicted with toothache? Prepare her a three-course soft foods dinner with the help of St. Apollonia, the patron saint of dentists (who had her teeth knocked out under torture). Terrified of artillery fire where you live?  Why not call on the holy patroness designated to protect you from such things and have one of St. Barbara’s French 75 cocktails to help calm your nerves. Suffer from venereal disease? Make St. Fiacre’s delicious Spotted Dick for dessert, and he may just intercede on your behalf. It’s what he does.

And if you’ve been honoring St. Barbara a little too frequently, you can always turn to St. Bibiana, the patron saint of hangovers. Or to St. Monica, patroness of alcoholics, if it comes to that.

Martyrs in The Kitchen will be filled with dozens of saintly recipes and anecdotes. And each saint comes with his or her very own Feast Day, which means you’ll know precisely which day to hold your St. Lawrence barbecue (August 10th).

There’s no due date as yet, but I promise to send out announcements as soon as we’re certain.

I’ve already enlisted the aid of St. Francis de Sales, to aid me in my writing, St. Expeditius  to help me avoid procrastination, and St. Timothy to protect me from food poisoning as I develop the recipes, but I hope that I can count on my readers to keep me in their prayers as well.

And, if you are so inclined, wish me luck as I take this Great Leap Forward into the scary, unknown world of publishing. I know it’s going to be very tough, but I have the feeling that’s it’s also going to be a lot of fun. I think my dreams just started to get a little bit bigger.

Sadly, so did my belly. But now if anyone remarks on the fact that I’ve gained a little bit of weight, I’ll just tell them it’s because I’m a little bit pregnant. I may or may not tell them with what.

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About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
This entry was posted in Books I Love and Loathe., Rants and Stories and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to The Great Leap Forward

  1. Genie Gratto says:

    I cannot wait for the release party…and to try the recipes for myself. I have no doubt that, like all things pregnancy-related, this will be a trying process for you at times, but everyone’s going to love the end result! xoxo

  2. AllesK says:

    Remember what Hemingway said, “Write drunk; edit sober.” Congratulations — but I don’t want to watch video of the actual event. Love you anyway!

    • Funny, at the one writing panel I sat upon, I referenced Hemingway saying that very thing. And I shall leave the sobriety to my eventual editor.

      Thank you, AllesK. And there will be no video. God no.

  3. Ryan says:

    This is fantastic news, congratulations! I can’t wait to read the baby.

  4. Lana says:

    I am fascinated by your project! As a fellow book and history nerd, I will be virtually nudging you forward and sending you “do not procrastinate” little poisonous darts:) You might have prompted me to start thinking about taking this kind of leap myself, one day…

    Good luck! Thinking of you:)

  5. Donna says:

    Unsolicited advice from other parents is de riguer. May I offer: 1. Breast is best. 2. Eating the placenta is a FUN tradition! And 3. By all means have a glass of champagne at the shower.

  6. Is there a patron saint of online admirers? If so, I invoke him/her in my prayer for your sure-to-be-hilarious holy baby of a book. I should like to pre-order same immediately. Congratulations!

    • I don’t know if there is such a patron saint. Would you like to submit yourself for canonization? It’s a very lengthy process, but you do have one miracle under your belt already– you’ve managed to read me for a very long time now. If that isn’t worth internet sainthood, I don’t know what is.

  7. Jenny says:

    Michael,
    This is wonderful news. Best wishes on this I can’t wait to own your book. I’ll send you an autographed Edward Gorey piece from my collection, if you like, to keep you motivated.
    I’m so excited for you- this book will be magic. The first trimester is often the hardest to endure.
    Best wishes ,
    xo
    Jenny

  8. Annie says:

    I can’t offer to pray to any saints or gods since I’m an atheist, but I’m thrilled with your fantastic news and I am looking forward to reading it when it comes out. I am certain it will be an utterly delightful addition to my cookbook collection. I’ve always thought the multitudinous Catholic saints were charmingly bizarre.

    Heartiest congratulations.

    • Annie,

      An atheist temple whore. Now that is something.

      Thank you for the congratulations. They whole reason for this books being is the very fact that the multitudinous Catholic saints are charmingly bizarre.

  9. As a recovering Catholic, this is a book I can get excited about. What a fun, intriguing and market-worthy idea. Love it! Let me know when you are looking for recipe testers. I just finished doing some Lebanese food testing and I enjoy the process.

    • Dear Water,

      Let us hope that it is market-worthy.

      I have no idea how the whole recipe testing for cookbooks thing works– especially since it’s far too early in the game. Whoever does such things is going to need a healthy dose of humor. And a St. Timothy medal.

      And were you recipe testing for, say, a beautiful Lebanese-American woman whose initials are M.A.?

  10. Gabrielle says:

    This I get excited about–for truly I can’t think of another cookbook like this out in the publishing world today. Sure, the birthing of your baby is going to be painful, but it will be worth it. Congrats!

    • Gabrielle,

      Your excitement is very much appreciated. And much needed. I shall keep it in mind whenever I get tired or can’t bear the thought of looking at another saint.

      And, you know, one of the main reasons I’m doing this book is because there isn’t another cookbook out there like it. I want it to be one-of-a-kind. (Fingers crossed!)

  11. Good for you, Procopio. And good luck. I’d say you’re going to put the writing pro in Procopio, but you’ve been nominated for two Beard awards. You already are a pro.

    • Kathleen,

      Thank you, dear woman. If putting the writing “pro” in Procopio means that I might finally see some income generated from my writing, then I am all for it.

      And I’m so grateful for the two Beard nominations. I’m very much hoping for a third this coming year. And it isn’t so much that I care about winning (I really don’t). It’s just great to be recognized– and invited to the party. And it’s also because a Beard nomination the only way I can be sure I’m in New York for Kat Kinsman’s Derby Day party.

  12. Tammy says:

    Well it’s about damn time!

    Best of luck on your project.

    (P.S. I’m with Folio, too. They do good work.)

  13. Linda I says:

    What fun…well, not the pregnancy part. But, as a post partum doula and regular reader of your blog, I will be anticipating the arrival of this particular bundle of joy with extra enthusiasm and champagne. May the saints be with you.

    • And also with you.

      Do you, like Donna in the comments above, suggest I eat the placenta? Of course, the book version of placenta is more than likely plastic shrink wrap. And I can’t for the life of me find a recipe for that anywhere.

  14. carole chase says:

    Get the epidural (That would be a good cocktail name- go for it).

  15. Astrid in DC says:

    Looking forward to this book!! Love the concept too. L’shana Tova!!

  16. Nikki says:

    I love your writing- this is going to be a very fun cook book baby to read. If you make up an “epidural” cocktail, I want the recipe for that, too!

    • Thanks, Nikki. It’s terribly important to me (and more than likely to my future publishers) to know that people love my writing. Your endorsement is extremely welcome.

      And now could you please state publicly that I did not pay you to write that?

      Thanks again.

  17. Thea says:

    The very book premise I would expect from you: quirkiness on a grand scale. I love it! I will buy the book for all the saints, and I know the pages will be filled with your customary wit, whimsy and out-of-left-field pith and gravity. My, you do express yourself, and take us along for a merry ride. If you run into rough spots, perhaps it would aid you to channel the saint who’s giving you trouble. Remember to go easy on yourself — and breathe in, breathe ooout. That’s it.

    • May I never have to channel St. Friard, the patron of not only venereal disease sufferers, but also those afflicted with hemorrhoids. And, Parisian cab drivers.

      I’ve never actually considered myself quirky. (I know you mean it in a very nice way.) To me, this book is the most logical thing in the world for me to do.

      And I thank you, as always, for the kind words and the Lamaze exercise suggestion.

  18. Pedge says:

    I do hope your endeavor will not keep you from continuing to post your blogs. I look forward to the book (great teasers) and your next blog.

    • No. Freaking. Way.

      I shall continue to post as I normally do, which is about twice a month.

      I have the feeling it will be a relief to write about something other than dead holy people from time to time.

  19. Stephanie says:

    Huz- to the -zah. I can’t wait to meet your spawn. My dead Italian grandmother would have been excited as well.

  20. Michael, this is SO fascinating and wonderful and surprising! Well, not a surprise that you’re writing a book, but your subject matter–how clever and unexpected. I can’t wait to cook with the martyrs!

  21. Maria Speck says:

    We are praying for a healthy pregnancy, and are calling on all the saints to help you along with nutritious food. Supremely splendid idea — congratulations and many good wishes for the journey!

    • Maria– I’m getting lots of folic acid, lots of exercise, and I’ve cut down on my gin intake (Baby need a little– it’s what my body is telling me.)

      Thanks for the well-wishes for the journey!

  22. dinazad says:

    I strongly recommend keeping St. Rita of Cascia in mind. Not only is she the patron saint of butchers and sausage makers, she also helps with pox and exams. And, most important, she is in charge of impossible undertakings. So anytime you feel the project is getting to be too much for you, St. Rita is the lady to invoke.
    Looking forward to your book!

    • Dear dinazad,

      How funny you should mention St. Rita. Because she may appear in the book not once, but twice. My grandmother’s name was Rita. Or, at least, that’s the name she chose for herself when she was a teenager in the 1920s. How prophetic that St. Rita is also the patron saint of unhappy marriages. And one of several who cover mothers with disappointing children. Along with Clotilde, Matilde, and St. Monica (who is also [not coincidentally] the patron saint of alcoholics).

  23. Dave says:

    Congrats!!!!!! Long overdue. It will be interesting and wonderful and very self gratifying. I know a food show in New Orleans whose interviewer is an actual priest whom also dresses as Elvis on the side–just saying for future PR.

    • Dave,

      Your Elvis priest lead could be very, very helpful. Thank you for the alert. And thanks very much for the congrats. My deepest hope is that it will be interesting and self-gratifying. And, I’m sure, a bit painful birthing the damned thing.

  24. queen artoeat says:

    Howz the preggos going? Showing a bump? Hope your creative juices are flowing!
    The Queen

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