On Saturday, August 12, the East Hampton Library hosted 100 notable authors at its 13th Annual Authors Night, including Ladies of London star Marissa Hermer who we caught up with about her new cookbook, An American Girl in London: 120 Nourishing Recipes for Your Family from a Californian Expat, motherhood, and more.
How did you decide what recipes to include?
MH: These are really the dishes that I make all the time for my family. It’s really a lot of my own comfort food. I wrote the book when I was pregnant, and whenever I’m pregnant – which is basically all the time, we have three kids – I get nostalgic for the food I grew up on, but also I have a British husband so I like to keep my British husband happy with his childhood food. It’s really a marriage of the California flavors that I grew up on sort of mixed with the British comfort food that he loves.
Was it difficult to find balance between the two cuisines?
MH: To be honest it’s just a lot of fresh flavors, which is pretty easy. Rather than a beef wellington, which I love, I did a salmon wellington. Or with an eton mess, just making the cream a bit lighter by using a yogurt sauce. I’m not a Michelin star chef, I’ve never gone to cooking school, I just sort of experimented.
And where are you based at the moment?
MH: We’re based in LA, but we still have our house in London, we still have Bumpkin restaurants in London, so we sort of go back and forth.
How long did the cookbook take overall?
MH: It probably took about eight months. I wrote it quite quickly, I mean as quickly as you can. It was almost like the baby is going to be born, I’m going to get as much done as I can.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MH: A lot of people asked me why I wrote a cookbook or how I did it. It was really my kids. As moms, we’re really good about making ourselves feel guilty all the time and when I was pregnant with our last daughter I was on bed rest for a lot of the time so I wasn’t able to run around after my other two, or go out to dinner with my husband, and I felt really guilty about it so the way I was able to almost satisfy those maternal needs was to nourish the boys through food because even though I couldn’t run around in the garden with them or take them to parties, I could give them a really nourishing meal and that made me feel so good. So I actually learned how to cook a lot, I never grew up cooking, but I cooked a lot when I was pregnant. It was a nice escape. It was very therapeutic from some very scary things I was hearing at the doctor’s office.
And did your children have any input on which recipes made the final cut?
MH: Absolutely and certainly which ones – like the lasagna that’s in there. We all cook different ways all the time, depending on what we have in our pantries or what we’re in the mood for. My son Max was like, “This is the best lasagna I’ve ever had!” And I was like, “Done!” Somebody’s got to make the decision because I was going through seven different ways of which one I was actually going to choose.
For more information, visit marissahermer.com.