I just want to quickly introduce the lovely lady pictured above. I first met Rachel when she interviewed for the fall 2012 internship at Hawthorne Books — the publisher of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland and where I’ve been publicity director and an editor since 2009. Right away, Hawthorne publisher, Rhonda, and I knew that Rachel was in. She’s bright, passionate, always curious, has a great sense of humor and is just a genuine pleasure to be around.
Rachel kicked ass during the 10-week internship and we were sad to see her go. When we decided to do a second edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland I was in the thick of completing Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. and felt a little overwhelmed but knew that the time was ripe and that the book needed an update. I thought about how to best manage my time, how to lessen the stress of another book project as much as possible and then I had the bright idea to hire an editorial assistant. Rachel was my number one choice and she said YES!
During the insanity of updating Rachel did everything from fine-tooth combing all of the contact info. throughout the book and making sure addresses, hours etc. were up to date to interviewing new subjects and writing the respective listings. I couldn’t have done the second edition without her. She was on top of every project every step of the way, and most importantly, she was really fun to work with. Love you Rachel! Without further ado…
Sweet, sweet Rachel Smith on food, travel and working on the second edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland:
When I was 6 years old, I used to pretend I was allergic to pizza and spaghetti sauce—not tomatoes—just pizza and spaghetti sauce. I disliked mushrooms, melted cheese, and loathed mustard. Strange textures and peculiar flavors were a no-no. I could barely choke down cooked vegetables. Sausage, meat on the bone, and meat cooked rare made me gag.
Eventually, as it happens for most of us, my taste buds and I began to grow up. Traveling became a priority in my life, and being a picky eater doesn’t go along well with it. I came to learn that one of the best parts of going abroad is experiencing the food. I also realize, when I travel, I desperately miss the food at home, and when I’m home, I crave the food from abroad.
Portland is a food-obsessed city. We know it, we love it, we partake in it. My head could explode thinking of the incredible variety of restaurants we have, the locally sourced vegetables and meats, the microbreweries and markets. As Portlanders, it’s in our veins. Outside of Portland, this isn’t as common—no news flash here. Yet every time I travel, I notice I have forgotten this. What, your bar doesn’t serve food? Your grocery store closes at 6? You don’t have any Mexican restaurants, because I could kill for a burrito right now.
I don’t mean this out of ignorance; I mean it is as a fantastic appreciation of what we have at home. It wasn’t until assisting Liz that I came to understand this even more.
As I write this, I’m on the brink of my third month visiting Switzerland. I’ve been eating melted cheese on the regular, devouring pizzas the size of my face, and obsessively ordering sausage. I recently tried horsemeat (and though it’s a horrendous thought to many people, and I vowed I would only try it once, it was quite good). But my stomach is rumbling at the thought of eating chorizo tacos from Uno Más or fresh sashimi from Bamboo Sushi. The idea of a Painted Hills burger with blue cheese and applewood-smoked bacon is enough to make me weak in the knees. Whining is not part of my intention here—I’m thoroughly enjoying the food and the experience, yet I do miss the access to variety.
Working on the second edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland was a reminder of our access and diversity. We have the ability to go straight to the source and pick fruit on Sauvie Island, go crabbing at the coast, or take a drive into wine country. We can feast on Vietnamese, Thai, Cuban, African, or Japanese food any day of the week. And we’re really lucky to have that—not only in restaurants, but in our grocery stores too. Did you know how many ethnic grocery stores we have? Or that Cheese Bar sells raclette so I can get my fix when I’m missing Switzerland?
My point is: the delicious world of food is at our fingertips right here in Portland. We can find just about anything we’re after. And when I’m home in 3 weeks, the first thing I will be doing is hunting down and demolishing the tortilla-wrapped goodness of a marinated pork burrito.
Pre-order the 2nd edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland
Pub. date September 1, 2014