Culinary Literacy Specialist, Free Library of Philadelphia
BY JOY MANNING
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHLOE BERK
Liz Fitzgerald adored being in the kitchen long before she started running the Free Library’s new Culinary Literacy Center. “When I worked in other library branches, there were always food events. All I need is a hot plate to make it work,” she says. Today, she no longer needs that hot plate and the tote bag of cutting boards and knives she once brought in from home. With a state-of-the- art demo kitchen and all the tools a food nerd might desire, she is well equipped to do her job wooing authors and cooking teachers into the space for library events.
She herself still cooks mostly at home, in her Roxborough kitchen, for her family. Many nights, especially this time of year, she turns to The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. She’s been eating these hearty, warming dishes her whole life, but she didn’t always know it. “When I set up my first kitchen in my 20s, I’d call my mom for recipes, and she’d send me copies from this book,” says Fitzgerald, who eventually acquired her own copy from a used book sale at the library.
“This lentil soup is one of the first things I made, and I still make it all winter long,” says Fitzgerald. “There’s a lot of fat in there, but it’s so good.”