Lunchtime with J.M. Hirsch

Jason Hirsch

 

On his blog, Lunch Box Blues, J.M. Hirsch describes himself as "By day, I'm J.M. Hirsch, food editor for The Associated Press and author of   Beating the Lunch Box Blues and High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking. By night, I'm just a dorky dad trying to feed my son a great dinner and pack him a lunch he'll eat and I'll feel good about." But despite his modesty - which certainly comes through in our discussion below - we have to applaud anyone who commits himself to the hard work he also describes, "As parents, we all just want to do right by our kids. And sometimes we need a hand. It's wonderfully daunting that folks have come to me for some of this. "

Enjoy our discussion with J.M. and, if you'd like one of the three free copies of his book, just comment on this cookbook giveaway blog to enter.

 

 

Every author wants to believe his book made it to print because it was brilliant. Because he relentlessly pursued an idea that lit a fire within him.

All I can say is my latest book was published despite my stupidity.

            About four years ago I was chatting with a friend, comparing war stories about packing lunches for our kids. I rattled off some of my more creative efforts to get some semblance of nutrition into my boy. She stopped me.

            "You have got to start a blog about this!"

            After I finished rolling my eyes, I patronizingly told her that not even I was interested enough in my son's lunches to read a blog about it.

            A few months later, she asked me, "Have you started that blog yet?"

            I brushed her off again. But she persisted. So like the petulant child I can be, I relented. "Fine! But I'm not going to like it. I'm not going to put any effort into it. Nobody is going to read it."

            Except they did. Despite my stupidity, people came. And soon I was on NPR, Martha Stewart and all manner of media.

            People really did care about what was in my son's lunch box.

            Well, not really. They care about what is in their own kids' lunch boxes, as well they should. We live in a confusing time of conflicting information about food and health and parenting. We all just want all the help we can to sort it out.

            My blog - LunchBoxBlues.com - reflects with blunt honesty how I approach feeding my son. It isn't perfect. It isn't always pretty. And it doesn't always work.

            But having now served too many years in the lunch box trenches, I've learned a few tricks and I was happy to share them with readers.

            Not long after, Rachael Ray came into the picture. Which I know makes every blogger-hoping-for-a-book-deal wish hot death upon me.

            It's more complicated than that, of course. I've blogged just a few years, true. But I've logged nearly two decades as a reporter and national editor for the world's largest news organization. I wasn't really new to the game.

            So Rachael came along. I'd known her from my day job for years.

            I was working on a different cookbook at the time. But when I heard she was getting her own imprint with Simon & Schuster, I knew that wasn't the book she would want. I knew that if I ever was going to write a book based on my blog, it needed to be now and for her.

            And she got it. Immediately. She's worked hard to help reform school lunches. I told her I wanted to write a book for the other parents, for the ones who pack their kids lunches. And I wanted it to be entirely visual.

            Because in the morning rush, no one has time to bust out a recipe to bang out a brown bag special. It needed to be a beautiful, delicious collection of ideas.

And she got it.

            A year later (a pace that left us all a bit breathless), "Beating the Lunch Box Blues" became the first book released under Rachael's imprint. It had to go into a rushed second printing the day it was released.

            Writing this blog, writing this book… All very humbling.

            As parents, we all just want to do right by our kids. And sometimes we need a hand. It's wonderfully daunting that folks have come to me for some of this.

            I am a very lucky guy. And my book was published despite my stupidity.


3 Comments

  • pipinita21  on  9/16/2013 at 4:47 PM

    Great interview!

  • Julia  on  9/16/2013 at 10:34 PM

    I love a good Pain Bagnat for a lunchbox or picnic!

  • Julia  on  9/16/2013 at 10:34 PM

    I love a good Pain Bagnat for a lunchbox or picnic!

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