The Readable Feast, Boston’s first ever cookbook festival, kicks off June 17-18 at the Boston Public Market. The event will honor New England cooking tomes. We caught up with Maggie Battista, founder of eatboutique.com and author of “Food Gift Love,” to give you a sample of what’s in store.
There’s something nostalgic about homemade food gifts. What inspired you to make it modern again?
People have built up the idea of a gift as something that has to be fancy, or expensive, or exactly what they want at any given moment because you know them so well. I just want to say hey, make something you love that you think they might love, put a tag on it, and give it to them. And do it more frequently. Share the things that you love with people, and they’ll share that with other people.
How did you transition from a technology career to food?
I worked at technology startups for almost 15 years. I started the blog, called Eat Boutique, as a way to write on the side and figure out the passions I had for food, artisans, and the craft behind it. A couple years in I put together a gift box of treats from all the artisans I had written about. I made a couple hundred boxes and they sold out instantly. Then the Wall Street Journal wrote about us and we just started offering gift boxes year-round.
You selected 80 recipe testers for Food Gift Love. What did you learn?
The whole point of testing is to make sure your language and words are understood by the reader, and they end up with the dish as described. When I say “swirl,” what does that mean to you? It was a six-month education in how people cook in their kitchens, and what flavors resonate with them.
It’s wedding season. Can you give food as a wedding gift?
There are no inappropriate occasions for food gifts, only inappropriate moments for gifting it. So if you’re at the church and you want to give a big box of spices and salts and breads, that might not be the greatest moment to gift it. But it is a wonderful gift – to fill a big basket full of all the spices a couple might need for their new home, bread, olive oil, cheese, maybe some pasta. I just won’t bring it to the reception.