Sarah Pinneo left a career in finance to follow her lifelong dream of writing. And, she did it all while raising a family — being a mother to two boys. Read on for her thoughts on organic food, writing Julia’s Child and her favorite books!
SheKnows: Your new book, Julia’s Child, has a main character that is very passionate about organic, healthy food. Do you relate to Julia?
Sarah Pinneo: This is such a good question, and the other night I was asked at a bookstore whether or not doing the research for Julia’s Child had changed the way I eat. The answer is yes, but because I am also a food journalist, I was already there. Julia, however, is a bit neurotic in her approach. I try to adopt a more “when in Rome” attitude toward food. At home I serve grass fed beef and organic foods. But if we’re out at the baseball park, we’ll have the same dubiously sourced hot dogs that everyone else is having. I don’t want to put my family in a bubble. Well, sometimes it’s tempting — but I don’t succumb.
SheKnows: In your book, muffets were Julia’s claim to fame. Do you make muffets for your kids? What are some of your favorite easy foods to make for them?
Sarah Pinneo: It was a lot of fun developing the muffet recipes which appear in the book, and my kids enjoyed trying every different batch. I have two boys who will eat anything at all, and they are a lot of fun to cook for. Today we made homemade guacamole. My younger son’s attitude toward spicy food is “quien es mas macho?” The results vary.
SheKnows: Describe the area where you write. What are your absolute must haves?
Sarah Pinneo: Once upon a time I was very picky about my writing environment. I wrote Julia’s Child in the fifth floor study room at the New York Society Library, where nobody is allowed to speak. And at the time they didn’t have a wireless internet connection, which meant that distractions were nil. Now, thankfully, I’ve become a little more flexible. I don’t need the stars to be in perfect alignment to write. But I still require quiet. When my family gets loud, I do have to hide in my bedroom to work.
SheKnows: Your bio says that you left a career in finance and went from being a “breadwinner to bread slicer.” What was the hardest part about the transition? The easiest?
Sarah Pinneo: The hardest part was trying to figure out when to go. I always knew I would leave Wall Street, and I’d wanted to write books since I was small. But when things are going well, it’s terribly difficult to walk away. I used the excuse of my second child’s birth to pull the rip cord. The best part was not having to get to my desk downtown by 7:15 a.m. It’s easy to convince yourself you’ve made the right choice the first time you realize your former co-workers are half way through their day, and you’re still wearing bunny slippers.
SheKnows: I know it’s very hard but if you absolutely had to, could you choose your 3 favorite books of all time?
Sarah Pinneo: That is so hard! I adore Alice Hoffman, and the first of hers that I ever read was At Risk. So I’ll have to give that one a symbolic nod. My favorite classic is House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Lastly, I just reread Lolita for the first time in years, and I feel I’m finally old enough to begin to understand, and properly admire, that tricky book. It is a masterpiece.
SheKnows: You’ve co-authored a cookbook — Ski House Cookbook — and now Julia’s Child. What’s in store for you next?
Sarah Pinneo: A wiser girl would specialize but I like non-fiction and fiction equally well. I’m working on one of each right now. The novel explores, among other topics, the drama of severe food allergies. I’m fascinated by the idea that a healthy food for one person may be lethal for another.