Sunday, April 7, 2024

Q&A with Brigit Binns




Brigit Binns is the author of the new memoir Rottenkid: A Succulent Story of Survival. She also has written 29 cookbooks. She lives in California.


Q: What inspired you to write Rottenkid?


A: Well, I was told all through my childhood, young-, and mid-adulthood that I was a “rotten kid,” and would never amount to anything. So a part of me set out to prove that assumption wrong, and maybe I did.


Plus, the book was just crying out to be written! It wanted a life of its own — much like me (and the snail that’s escaping on the cover!)


Q: Can you say more about how the memoir’s title was chosen, and what it signifies for you?


A: From as far back as I can remember, my mother referred to me as a rotten kid, to me directly, and to many others in hers and my circles.


As I ran through the possible titles for this book with my fantastic publisher, Vicki, and wonderful editor, Julia, this suddenly emerged as the absolutely right title and now I can’t imagine if we had gone with some of the other candidates: Privileged, Butter on the Ceiling, Fortunate Girl, or the short-lived Mommy’s Got a Gun.


Q: The author Andrew Friedman said of the book, “For all its celebrity cameos...and privileged its core, this is the story of a search for self amid the ruins of a lavishly dysfunctional family.” What do you think of that description?


A: I like how Andrew characterized the book here, and what I say to that is simply, this: All That Glitters is Not Gold. The lack of unconditional love is piercing and destructive for a child, no matter in what socio-economic milieu it occurs.


(And I also appreciate that he mentioned the “gallows humor and novelist’s eye for telling detail that enliven every page.”)


Q: What impact did it have on you to write the book, and what do you hope readers take away from it?


A: Certainly, it was cathartic. But the true personal work I did happened with a therapist many years ago. Sadly, it also resurrected the pain that came with the implosion of my first marriage and my retreat from life in Europe back to the USA.


I hope readers take away that, despite the crippling lack of self-esteem that can result from growing up with an angry, self-involved, and/or narcissistic parent, they can be the architects of their own resilience—that it is NOT THEIR FAULT.


I also hope that they will be inspired to travel widely and cook passionately!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’ve re-discovered my mother’s diaries from her years married to a US Navy Commander stationed in the Bahamas in the mid-‘50s. They are VERY juicy!


My thought is to use them as color and background for a novel set in that place and time, and involving many of the post-colonial expats and native Bahamian characters. This would be my first foray into fiction! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Along with my husband, aka “Paso Wine Man” and long-time Star Trek actor Casey Biggs, I own RefugioPasoRobles, a beautiful, luxe culinary retreat/vacation rental in the wine country of Paso Robles, on the Central Coast of California. 


Also: a massive cookbook I co-authored with the irrepressible Meathead, Barbecue Whisperer and Hedonism Evangelist, will finally come out next year. His first book stayed on the NY Times best-seller list for many months and has been cited by all the top Eater-ati as a must-have for everyone who likes to grill. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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