(Tinky "Dakota" Weisblat)
PERSONAL: Born in Morristown, NJ; daughter of Abraham (an agricultural economist) and Janice (a teacher and antique dealer; maiden name, Hallett) Weisblat. Ethnicity: "White." Education: Mount Holyoke College, A.B.; University of Tennessee at Knoxville, M.S.; University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D., 1991. Politics: Democrat. Religion: "Sometimes Unitarian, sometimes Congregationalist."
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Merry Lion Press, 84 Middle Rd., Hawley, MA 01339. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Paris en Films, Paris, France, worked as assistant to the vice president; singer and freelance journalist, 1991–. Museum of Television and Radio, senior editor of catalog, 2000–02.
MEMBER: International Association of Culinary Professionals.
The Pudding Hollow Cookbook, illustrated by Judith Russell, Merry Lion Press (Hawley, MA), 2004.
TV Diners, Merry Lion Press (Hawley, MA), in press.
Contributor of essays, articles and reviews to periodicals, including American Quarterly, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Berkshire Eagle, Shelburne Falls and West County News, Hartford Courant, and Velvet Light Trap. Some writings appear under the name Tinky "Dakota" Weisblat.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Research for The Green Emporium Cookbook, with Michael Collins; research for Food to Die For, with Alice Kendrick.
SIDELIGHTS: Tinky Weisblat told CA: "In my writing I try to embody my contention that there is no authentic split between the public and the private or between the intellectual and the emotional. I tend to explore issues that interest me, from my home community to American popular culture, through the rubric of food writing.
"The emphasis on food came about originally by accident. With my freshly minted Ph.D. in American cultural history, I tried to find work as a film or television critic. To my surprise, I found that most newspapers and magazines were not interested in my scholarly credentials. I eventually discovered, however, that if I layered my academic interests into food writing, I could sell articles much more easily. Eventually I came to embrace food writing (if not the pounds it has often added to my waistline) as a structure that could actually help me do some of my most analytical and creative writing.
"The Pudding Hollow Cookbook is a loving tribute to the community in which I live. The idea for the book came from the illustrator, the late Judith Russell. A folk artist who spent much of her time at my mother's antique shop in nearby Shelburne Falls, Judy participated with me in the bicentennial pageant of my hometown, Hawley, Massachusetts, in 1992. In the pageant I portrayed Abigail Baker, who, according to legend, won a pudding contest in town in the late 1700s. The area of town in which she lived is still known as Pudding Hollow in tribute to Mrs. Baker's culinary expertise. Judy and I put out feelers to our rural neighbors, asking for recipes that would represent the friendly community in which we lived. The result, embellished by my prose and Judy's colorful paintings, is the cookbook. I don't think anything else I've written has been as beautiful or as heartfelt.
"My recent project, TV Diners, provides recipes and commentary associated with fifty classic American television programs and thus brings me back to my academic roots; my dissertation explored the on-and off-screen marriages of George Burns and Gracie Allen, Ozzie Nelson and Harriet Hilliard, and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. I am nourishing my brain as well as my digestive system as I sit in front of my television set, looking for food but also for lively, intelligent ways to characterize these cultural products. This is a project that has inspired friends, relatives, and even strangers to help me. Interest in television, its significance, and its food-ways seems to cross boundaries of class and occupation. I look forward to a fun book and a lively, critical audience.
"If I were to give advice to an aspiring writer, it would be this. Write about your passions; write the way you talk; and be sure to have another creative outlet to complement your writing. My singing engagements give me the opportunity to make contact with my audience directly and to express myself physically and emotionally. I believe that they enhance my writing and are enhanced by it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Pudding Hollow Cookbook, p. 1587.