Athens Banner Herald Article on Book Signing

Athens chef Lamar Thomas matches romance and recipes


Published Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Buzz up!

Lamar Thomas has two passions in life: food and the humanities. If he’s not cooking up a four-course meal, he’s working on a rich narrative or poem.
Chef Lamar Thomas will sign books from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at The Rolling Pin, 196 Alps Road.

Lamar Thomas book-signing
When: 1-3 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Rolling Pin, 196 Alps Road
Cost: Free
Call: (706) 354-8080

So when the founder of East West Bistro and The Iron Grill decided to step away from the restaurant business to write a book, he knew just what he wanted to write about.

“Ginger, Lily and Sweet Fire: A Romance with Food” isn’t a traditional cookbook or a book of literature – it’s both.

“It’s a book for regular people, not industry types,” Thomas said. “It’s for people who are not chefs who want to cook world cuisine.”

The book goes beyond just recipes. Thomas assembles different dishes into entire meals and takes readers through them, step by step.

The first menu in “Ginger, Lilly and Sweet Fire” calls for chicken coconut soup, baked tilapia with cashews and yellow and red peppers, jasmine rice and sesame broccoli and chilled slices of pear and mango with chocolate cream.

In the “Mediterranean Hillsides and Beaches” chapter, Thomas combines frittata with shrimp, potatoes and onions, pan seared beef with a apple-almond harrissa and tiramisu.

In “Island and Oasis,” he puts scallops with jalape o and pears together with a tomato and basil couscous with vegetables and chicken, and finishes the meal with white chocolate meringues poached in orange water.

For every recipe, Thomas keeps the instructions conversational so that anyone can follow them.

“It’s packed with information, not just ingredients and instructions,” he said. “They’re all recipes for regular people.”

And they all have a new world spin on them. Really, they are a reflection of Thomas and his travels. He’s spent time in Athens, Atlanta, San Francisco and even China, traveling the country and the world in his pursuit for great food.

But food is just one of Thomas’ pursuits. He’s a published writer and offers poems, narratives and essays throughout the book.

Thomas has written essays about salt and the real nature of Italian food. His poems kick off every chapter, including this:

She was there alone by the counter

watching the herbs and fruits

like a perfect still life with wonder,

and it was here, downtown by the pines

in a neighborhood of open fires

that I saw her, and I saw my reflection,

so I rose and stood beside her

and together we began,

with the ginger and the lily,

we began our lives together.

The poems are followed by recipes that he has installed into restaurants around the world.

The recipes, he said, are his writings on society’s wall. But he couldn’t write a cookbook without squeezing his other passion in.

“The book is very much original,” he said. “It represents my whole life.”

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