Sunday, May 13, 2007

Everyday Pasta

Happy Mothers Day!

I received this new book from Entling no. 1 as a Mothers Day gift. The recipes look wonderful but seeing the title page signed "To Camille" by Giada's own hand is too much fun. Reading the story of how I came to own this signed copy is priceless. My entling's account follows.

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So I see in the "Taste" section of The Dallas Morning News that Food Network icon Giada De Laurentiis will be appearing at a local Border's bookstore for a signing of her newest culinary achievement, Everyday Pasta. Not only is she a cable foodie's one-stop shop for Italian cooking 101, she's also a favorite of Mom and Grandmom. Perfect Mother's Day present!

Now, if you know nothing else about my family, you should understand nothing is ever as easy as just seeing something in paper and being able to go.

It seemed simple enough. Giada's signing had two basic rules: 1 - You had to have a ticket; and 2 - You only got a ticket if you bought a copy of the book from that store, that day.

But there were a limited number of tickets. And a limited number of books. Ticket holders were divided into Group A and Group B. Only the first 100-ish people who bought books could be in Group A. And, of course, only people in Group A could have their books personalized. Everyone else just got a signature because otherwise the poor chef would be at the store for days.

So how do I get a ticket, buy the book and get in Group A? I got there early.

I did happen to have a bit of after-Thanksgiving, Black Friday experience, so I knew to wait for the store to open. Border's opened at 9 a.m., so I left my place at 6:45 a.m. and arrived at 8:15 a.m. I expected maybe one or two people to be there - after all, it was a cookbook not a Nintendo Wii.

I was 30th in line!

The lady first in line had been there since 5 a.m. Fifteen minutes before the store opened, another 80 people showed up, shuffling into line - some wearing slippers - tightly gripping Starbucks and McGriddles.

When the doors opened, Border's folks nicely lined us up on a predetermined path, marked by blue masking tape on the floor. Thirty minutes later, I had two copies of the book and a hot pink ticket with GROUP A stamped on the front like a Southwest Airlines boarding pass.

Giada, however, wouldn't be there for almost another 9 hours. Her signing started at 6 p.m., and Border's folks advised people (again) to get there early. So I went to our company's downtown office, worked until about 4:30 p.m. and cut out early to go grab a spot in line. I arrived at 4:55 p.m., again expecting (since I was more than an hour early) to be tenth or so in line.

I was 40th!!!

Group A folks - me included - lined up on another predetermined path, this one marked with beige masking tape, winding in and around the music section. I stood next to a mom with three little kids who wanted to see how high they could stack all the books they knocked off the shelves. When they were asked to stop - by Border's folks, NOT their mom - they decided to see how fast they could spin a magazine stand around and around. (Answer - fast enough to make magazines fly out and knock over their stacks of books.)

Giada's "people" showed up around 6 p.m. An assistant came in first to preview the setup and directed more movable books displays to cordon off the signing table. Local police also had to have time to look over the crowd (about 700 of us, according to an after-event Morning News article).

Giada herself arrived about 6:40 p.m. (Just a reminder, I'd been there with the spinning, twirling, dancing children since before 5 p.m.)

She came in the through the back and was so tiny and nondescript most people didn't even seem to notice her entrance. The first signs of applause started almost as an accident but revved up quickly as she got to the center of the store and waved to everybody, grinning that big, big smile.

After her arrival, things moved quickly. Names for the books' intended were written on sticky notes, which were stuck to the to-be-signed page. When it was your turn, you handed your books (opened and stacked) to her assistant who checked to make sure you hadn't written anything else on the sticky note. When it was your turn, she handed your books to a Border's manager who put them on the table in front of Giada.

With a quick flourish, she signed the books and - if you were lucky - chatted you up a bit. I manage to stammer out (I was a bit star struck, after all) that the books were for my mom and grandmom who just loved you and all your shows. She smiled, said that was great, and made me promise to have them cook something for me since I wasn't getting a book for myself.

Resisting the urge to curtsy, I scurried out of the way (still following the beige masking tape). Once you had your books signed, you were allowed to congregate outside her "green zone" to ogle and take pictures.

All in all - a great experience for me. Hopefully Mom and Grandmom will have as much fun using their cookbooks as I had getting them.

Next time I'm home you both owe me some ziti!


Robin Brande said...

Camille, I'm impressed by your dedication and diligence in getting your books signed, but I think I'm more impressed that you didn't smack those misbehaving children whose mother didn't seem to feel they needed any direction.

But then don't situations like that make you feel good about your own kids and your own mothering skills?

Camille said...

Hey Robin--
Just to be clear, the account above was written by my daughter. The idea that she went to such lengths to get books signed for me and my mom really touched me!

And that SHE didn't smack those kids shows amazing restraint. I am sure she was thinking that she NEVER would have gotten away with that with her mother (me).

Anonymous said...

Awww! What a great daughter!