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Author Fanny Singer and chef Alice Waters talk food and family with L.A. Times Book Club

Donna Wares

Writer Fanny Singer and her mother, renowned chef Alice Waters, will join Los Angeles Times Book Club readers on April 21 for a virtual meet-up from Waters' home kitchen in Berkeley.

Singer is the author of “Always Home,” a memoir with recipes about her life growing up at an epicenter of California cuisine. Waters, the food luminary, author and activist who founded Chez Panisse restaurant, writes the book’s foreword.

“Always Home” was published March 31. Singer and Waters originally planned to join book club readers for a live event in Los Angeles on May 8. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Singer was forced to cancel her nationwide book tour and has been sheltering in the Bay Area at her mother’s home.

A photograph of Fanny Singer and her mother Alice Waters.  (Brigitte Lacombe)

Near the start of “Always Home,” Singer describes the rituals and sounds of mornings in the family’s kitchen: the snapping kindling as Waters coaxes a fire in the massive brick hearth. The kettle squealing. The pleasure of sipping fermented Chinese black tea in bowls, always bowls because “mugs are not welcome in my mother’s cupboards.”

“Even though I live in a pragmatic world of mugs — tea stays hotter for longer — I love sitting with my mom in the mornings with our bowls, watching the tea leaves expand and slowly settle into the inky liquid bottom,” Singer writes.

The book is an intimate portrait of mother and daughter that takes readers inside family meals (including the elaborate school lunches mom packed); Waters’ Berkeley restaurant and their culinary travels around the world.

Singer says she settled on the book’s title, “Always Home,” long before she knew she and her mother would literally be confined there as a pandemic hit. (The Times’ interview with Singer will be published next week.)

Singer and Waters will join the Los Angeles Times Book Club for a virtual conversation with Times deputy editor for arts and entertainment Laurie Ochoa on April 21 starting at 7 p.m. The free event will be streamed live on the L.A. Times Facebook page and on YouTube.

Please submit your questions in advance on Twitter @latimesbooks, in the L.A. Times Book Club Facebook Group or by email to bookclub@latimes.com.