BEA is the one place to figure out: who has a book coming out, which famous (or aspiring-to-be-famous) folks are peddling their thoughts and words on the book reading masses? The Book Expo is a test of nerves-day and night schmoozing, party after party, late night dinners and endless boozing-the liquid that holds it all together. It sounds fun and exciting, and it is.
In the They Are Such Talented Southerners category: The Lee Bros. cookbook promises the sort of smart food writing to be expected from New York Times' vets. They love Southern staples such as hominy, country ham, boiled peanuts, and artichoke relish. Their cooling, sweet mint juleps hit the spot at the Norton Woolly Mammoth fete.
In the How Unexpected category: Tracey Ullman has a knitting book due in September. Gossip: she was ushered to the front of a Starbuck's (there's one every 2 blocks, showing even our nation's capitol is not immune to gross Starfucksification). Everyone in line started grumbling and mumbling, perhaps unaware that a Brit star was in their midst. She surprised them all by quickly buying drinks for the house.
In the Good Dim Sum category: Tony Cheng's Seafood Restaurant, where on the weekend, the carts deliver wonderful BBQ pork, green beans, pork buns, and custardy eggplant. The dining room fills up with local Chinese families (a good sign of quality), along with young couples and tourists. There are scores of photos of politicians (Bill Clinton in the center) and famous folks who have eaten there.
In the Don't Drink the Water category: D.C. local author Alan Cheuse warned us to stick to bottled water. There are high levels of lead and other scary elements in the D.C. water supply. Many restaurants we visited had small bottles of flat water, and seemed put out that we didn't want tap. They frowned or looked lost at the mention of Perrier or other bubbly.
In the Best Way to Feel Close to Lincoln Greasy Spoon category: 10th Street's Waffle Shop, across from the Ford Theater where Lincoln was shot, serves up reasonably priced breakfast all day. Meat sides include scrapple, ham, bacon, and sausage. The seats at the snaking counter are wooden and small, but the service will make you smile and probably laugh.
In the Old Guy Steals the Girl category: Turns out a famous 70 plus year old Literary Lion recently stole a girl forty years younger, at a book reading. The girlfriend had been partnered with an up and coming author who was in awe or Mr. Literary Lion (whose bushy eyebrows hardly make him a candidate for hunk-in-waiting). Mr. Literary Lion did the same thing fifty years ago to another author-who still holds a grudge. Note there's no food tie-in, but it's hopefully a fascinating bit. Any guesses?