By now all the entries in today’s Seattle Edible Book Festival will have been judged and eaten. Change that to most of the entries, since not all looked tasty enough for folks to consider putting them in their mouths; nonetheless, together they formed an imaginative presentation of baked goods, creativity and literary punning. I found many entries to photograph and enjoy. For example, there was the Book of Kells, constructed out of phyllo dough to look like an ancient manuscript, as well as an homage to writer Harper Lee called To Grill a Mockingbird, which consisted of a small doughy bird atop a pastry barbecue, with olive briquets and red bell pepper flames.
One book, however, stood out more than all the others: the Caramel Sutra. Why this book? In my working life I was responsible for school district media relations and, unbeknownst to most of us, a high school history course used a secondary text out of which teachers would assign a limited number of supplemental articles to read. Apparently the teachers knew that the text contained a passage from the Kama Sutra as one article, but, operating on the assumption that students wouldn’t bother to read anything not assigned, never worried about the parent and public relations factors involved in using such a text. Allegedly this system worked fine, until a substitute teacher chose to recommend the Kama Sutra passage and one student showed her mother the assignment. Mom, outraged by what she saw, called a local TV station.
When this happened, I was in Japan on an educational study tour with the teacher whose substitute had made the offending assignment. His wife called him in Osaka with the news, just before we left our hotel for the airport to fly home. Everyone, including the reporter, waited for me to return to make a statement. When the reporter and photographer arrived at my office, what was most amusing was that they were intent on getting a good close-up of the offending pages. They laughed and chatted with each other and with me as they worked together to get just the right shot. When they were satisfied, the reporter then switched into “horrified and aggrieved mode” for the interview. If only the book had been edible, I could have avoided the whole incident.