quarterlane Journal: Elettra Wiedemann
By Samantha Hahn on 02/17/17
I met Elettra when she asked me to do some illustrations for her amazing site Impatient Foodie. Her first and upcoming cookbook is aptly titled, The Impatient Foodie Cookbook. Look for it in June 2017 (stay up to date on events and book info via Elettra's Instagram. We visited Elettra and her sweet doggies in her home to see how she carves out space and time for reading. Read on to see what inspires Elettra. Photography by Christine Han.
1. You’re a born and bred New Yorker. What role did growing up here play in your reading life? Did you frequent any particular libraries or book shops?
My favorite reads when I was a kid were books by Roald Dahl, though I usually hated whatever my school assigned me. Picking apart literature always took the joy out of it for me! I spent a lot of time at the New York Public Library in high school to read and also research papers. My favorite little bookstore growing up was in Bellport, New York where my mother has a country house. It went out of business years ago and I still miss it.
2. You are the executive food editor at Refinery 29, the founder of Impatient Foodie and soon to be published author. What prompted your interest in food?
Through my studies at the LSE I realized that food connected me to a lot of larger issues that were keeping me awake at night like climate change and ocean depletion, for example. So it's not so much that I am a passionate foodie, always looking to get into the new hot restaurant and cooking up a storm, it's more that I use food to "vote my values" whenever I possibly can.
3. Tell us about your upcoming book? Title, subject matter, when it's coming out...
The Impatient Foodie Cookbook is coming out in June 2017 and I am so excited! My theory is that most people go food shopping first and then look at cookbooks to figure out what do to, not the other way around. So I created an A-Z (asparagus-zucchini) guide with multiple options for each ingredient. For example, if you went to the farmers market or grocery store and got inspired to buy a bunch of gorgeous beets only to realize you have no idea how to cook them, the Impatient Foodie cookbook has 4 suggestions for how to use them including a spread, a main, a side, and even a dessert!
4. What are some cookbooks you absolutely love?
I know she gets a lot of flack, but I really enjoy Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbooks, particularly her most recent one It's All Easy. I also just got Chloe Coscarelli's vegan cookbook and have loved all of her vegan creations (I am not a vegan, but want to be plant based as much as possible). I also love Bon Appetit's The Food Lover's Cleanse.
5. You are into fitness in addition to food. Is there any relationship between what you eat and how you train/perform?
Yes, absolutely. For me, it was important to eat as cleanly as possible and also eat enough. Learning what my body needed to perform maximally took a lot of observing and tweaking. It's different for everyone, so there aren't really any rules I can share beyond just paying attention to how you feel after you eat particular foods. Also, when I was racing shaving off a second here or a second there was a big deal -- noticing what got me there took time and some playing around.
6. You studied biomedicine and specifically the future of feeding urban populations in light of climate change. Can you give us an elevator explanation of this? Any good books on the subject to recommend?
The focus of my dissertation was on a biotechnology called Vertical Farming, which proposes to grow food in massive hydroponic skyscraper farms in urban areas. Land and farmers currently growing food would be paid to forests and manage forests. In that sense, Vertical Farming not just about feeding the population, but also adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change. If you're interested you can download my dissertation here. The man that originally thought of Vertical Farms, Dickson Despommier, wrote a book about it (but my dissertation came first -- just saying ;)
7. You are Italian, French, German and Swedish. Are there any aspects of those cultures that have influenced you? Any stories or books from your heritage that have impacted your life?
My father and his side of the family are Texan and my mother is Swedish and Italian. I don't think of myself as anything other than a New Yorker, which I feel culturally and geographically is between the rest of America and Europe. The "go-get-em" culture of the USA, and particularly NYC has had a hugely formative effect on me. At the same time, I think the excess consumption and desire to constantly be relevant or "new" is tiresome and destructive. Maybe that is where my European roots come in.
8. What was your favorite book as a kid? Teen? Do you have one now as an adult?
9. What other genres are you into reading?
I am not a huge fiction person. I really like historical biographies and non fiction.
10. Tell us about your reading lifestyle. How do you carve out time for it in your hectic life?
I read in bed, on weekends, and in planes (which I am on A LOT, including right now).
11. Tell us about the space you carve out for reading in your home. Where do you prefer to read? A favorite chair? In bed?
I love to read in bed with a heating pad on my lower back or on my stomach. Most comforting thing ever.
12. Favorite literary character. Why?
I always loved Matilda because she was so smart and sweet. She refused to let her circumstances beat her down and was so resilient.
13. Favorite local bookstore?
I love my local bookstore in Fort Green called Greenlight Bookstore.
14. What's a theme you'd like to see quarterlane create a box for?
I am making a request to create a "best of" biographies quarterlane box please :)
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Thank you for having us over and letting us take a peek at your space and reading habits Elettra!
By Samantha Hahn on 02/17/17