Category Archives: books

Eat Well, Make Love

Eat Well, Make Love...

For Tiberio Simone and Matt Freedman, two of the most beautiful things in the world are food and the human body – not necessarily in that order. “Food is not just sustenance to me,” said Simone, a James Beard award-winning chef. “In culinary school, it is taught that how one serves and arranges a meal on the plate is almost as important as the preparation of the dish itself. Our senses are aroused not only by the taste, smell and texture, but also by how food is presented visually.”

Freedman, known as one of Seattle’s finest photographers and creator of the iPhone app Burning Man: A Photo Essay, agrees with Simone, and also believes that one of the oldest traditions in art is the photographic representation of the human form.

Tiberio Simone and Matt Freedman, Authors of La Figa

“Photographing the nude is one of the most revered tests of a photographer’s mettle,” Freedman said. “It’s not about sexuality, but sensuality and how a photographer can transcend modern mores and portray the simple, elegant beauty of the human form. When Tiberio – who was already one of my best friends – had the crazy idea of making art by placing fruits and vegetables on people’s nude bodies, I knew I had to photograph it.  His artistic vision was a perfect match for my own.”

That project became La Figa: Visions of Food and Form, a coffee table book that features a spectacular collection of sensual photography – models wearing nothing but Simone’s edible creations.

Who loves coffee?

La Figa examines the relationship between food, touch and the ingredients that make life delicious,” said Simone. “It’s a unique hybrid of fine art photography and food. We combine the images with stories and even a collection of my favorite recipes. To us, it’s about natural beauty and fresh flavors. It‘s about our human connection with the food that we eat and how fresh food brings our senses to life, and tunes us in to our most primal instincts for flavor and pleasure.”

When they first embarked on the project, not surprisingly, the models were mostly young, slender women, but Simone and Freedman listened to the women and, as such, they later added men (thanks, guys).

“Then I realized that fruit and vegetables have something in common with people’s bodies – they come in different shapes, sizes, tastes, and smells,” Simone said. “So I started adding people of different ages and shapes. The La Figa concept is the idea that we can find beauty in everything and everyone around us. I wanted our pictures to accurately convey my message. On our first shoot, I completely covered a woman’s body with over 1500 slices of cucumber. In the five years since then, Matt and I have done more than 50 photo shoots together for La Figa, in hopes that it will help me to spread my philosophy about the importance of food and touch as the basics ingredients of a good life. These photos range from pomegranate lingerie, to a white chocolate warrior. To make these images, I had to create many techniques to keep the food fresh, bright, and beautiful on the body – long enough for Matt to take dozens of photographs. We hope the end result will stir people’s souls, pique their curiosity, and most importantly, inspire them to eat well, and make love.”

How 'bout them apples?

About Tiberio Simone

Born in southern Italy, Tiberio Simone is a James Beard Award-winning chef and pleasure activist. He has been cooking for as long as he can remember, beginning in his mother’s kitchen. Tiberio started his career by working at an Italian restaurant in Seattle, where he moved at the age of 21. He eventually became the pastry chef at Seattle’s Four Seasons Olympic Hotel. Years later – tired of corporate cooking – Tiberio launched his own company: La Figa Catering.

About Matt Freedman

Matt Freedman is both a professional photographer and a professional technologist. In 2007, he was able to combine his passion for photography and technology by becoming the staff photographer and Director of Technology for JUST CAUSE Magazine – a bi-monthly magazine focusing on solutions, with stories of individuals, organizations and businesses doing good in the world. In 2009, Matt once again merged photography and technology to produce Burning Man: A Photo Essay – the first iPhone app about the Burning Man festival. A “coffee table book for the iPhone,” the app combines Matt’s photography, writing and software engineering.

Buy La Figa Here

The World’s Must See Destinations

Here’s a book of inspiration (and a few photo captivations) to remind you of exhilaration.


Heaven on Earth: The World’s Must See Destinations, a stunning collection of photographs of the planet’s most wondrous destinations, compiled and edited by LIFE Books into a deluxe and expanded edition.


$29.95 hardcover

Rio de Janiero

To Nourish and Consume

Ryan O'Reilly, Author of Snapshot and To Nourish and Consume

Ryan O’Reilly is the author of the travel novel Snapshot and his latest book, To Nourish and Consume, which examines the awkward journey of returning home after a long period of being away. A freelance contributor to various newspapers and periodicals throughout the country, O’Reilly divides his time between his business in Austin, Texas and a small farm in Clever, Missouri.

-Why did you decide to become an author and world-traveler?

Like any good lifestyle change I just kind of fell into it. Prior to vagabonding, I was all about the conventional. In the summer of 2004, I was working in an office, had a fiancé, and a little house with a picket fence. I played golf on the weekends, had a few extra pounds and was heading towards a quiet existence as an everyman. Thus was the hour of my discontent. In August of that same year I visited a college buddy of mine, who was living in Austin, Texas and working for a touring band. After a weekend on the road with him, I went back home and within a month I had broken off my engagement, sold most of my belongings, quit my job and moved to Texas. Somewhere around the Oklahoma/Texas border, with a backseat full of books and suitcases, I stopped at a rest stop and cried for a half hour. At the time I thought it was regret, but now I think it was my body purging the illness of a long-lived life that hadn’t been my own. Since then, I’ve seen the entire country and many countries beyond, started two successful businesses, written two books and many articles and essays. Though I gave up a lot to live this life, I have never once looked back.

Frontier Rodeo Days - Cheyenne, Wyoming

What is the most thrilling place you’ve ever visited?

I don’t know about the most thrilling, but the most surprising has been right here – America. For the longest time I equated serious travel with going to Europe or Africa or the Far East. I thought those who restricted themselves to traveling in their own country were limiting their exposure to different cultures. Now, I see that I was wrong. Having been all over the world – and all over the United States – I can definitely say that the most thrilling and surprising thing one can do is to expose themselves to the separate nuances of their own country. Everyone knows that America is a melting pot and that our culture is about diversity. But until you see it, you don’t really understand the extent. I’m not talking about seeing the statue of liberty, hiking the grand canyon, or walking down Sunset Blvd. in LA.

I’m talking about having a beer at the Stockman bar in Walden, Colorado; going to the weekly farmers market in Livingston, Montana; Going to Frontier Rodeo Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming (the one Kerouac wrote about); or sitting front row at a Key West drag show wearing a pink stole. It’s all there, and it’s all thrilling.

Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming

-Where is the best place in the world to have a blast on a dime?

For me, the national park system, for sure. For $80, one can purchase an annual pass that includes admission to every spot in the park system (The daily use fee is much less, but I like to buy in bulk). My favorite, by far, is Yellowstone National Park. With YNP you have 33,000 square miles to explore. You can tour Old Faithful Geyser and the Firehole River with the multitudes in the morning, and by evening you can be in a place so far removed from the civilized world you think yourself on another planet. Plus, Yellowstone is a place covered with geysers, mud pots, fumaroles and other geothermal features. Nowhere else in the United States are you reminded of the temporary nature of the ground under your feet. At Yellowstone, the traveler is constantly reminded that the most stable thing we have, the earth, is a living, breathing and evolving thing. Perspective is YNP’s most valuable resource as far as I’m concerned.

-When was the last time you returned home thinking, “I probably shouldn’t have survived that trip”?

Most worthwhile adventures yield at least one come-to-Jesus moment. I have a short list of things I’m good at, and the ability to identify potential threats isn’t one of them. Whilst on the road, you’re more likely to find me adapting to a given situation rather than planning ahead to avoid it. One example of that would be a couple of years ago when I paddled all 2,341 miles of the Missouri River in a 16-foot canoe. The river itself isn’t technically challenging – the little whitewater it has never goes beyond Class III – but it goes on and on and on through some fairly sparse parts of the heartland. Once I was stuck on the side of an isolated beach for almost four full days while the wind blew at 40 plus miles per hour. There were no clouds, no trees and the temperature didn’t get below 80 at night. A weather radio probably could’ve prevented falling into this situation but it was ultimately one of the most cathartic periods of my life. On the second day, I went for a walk. Less than a mile from camp I heard a rattle, took a step back and felt a sharp, searing pain in the back of my heel. I won’t give away the end of that story quite yet, but I’ll simply say that I made some fairly extravagant promises to God.


Other than that I’ve contracted malaria, had a gun pointed at me, broken my ankle severely while alone in the woods, watched someone wave a knife in my face, ridden an out of control airplane off the end of a runway into some trees and fractured my scapula in a motorcycle wreck. If we’re given nine lives, I may have used most of mine already.

Which locale inspired your latest novel, To Nourish and Consume?

TNAC is set in the fictional town of Charleton, Michigan. Charleton is loosely based on the real town of Charlevoix, Michigan. Charlevoix is a town I’ve been to once, but have heard stories about for a long time. The first time I ever fell in love was in college with a girl whose family frequently summered there. Her descriptions of the town and of spending summers there could’ve been taken straight out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel – Possibly the most passionate descriptions of any town I’ve heard.

It wasn’t until years after that relationship ended that I finally went there myself. I spent a week just walking around the town and letting my imagination swirl around the beaches and the buildings. Of course, finally seeing the town brought the memories of that first love flooding back, so I hold a sense of nostalgic romance about Charlevoix that I’ve never felt anywhere else. And I’ve only been there once! I just knew, once I saw its lazy streets and quiet houses, that there was a novel there.

-What travel memoir are you working on now?

I mentioned my trip down the Missouri River. That’s the story I’m working on now. The first draft is finished, and now I’m heading across country to take a break before revision time. In 2008, I started at the Missouri River’s headwaters in Three Forks, MT with a canoe and paddled for two months and 2,341 miles to the river’s confluence with the Mississippi.

Aside from the tried and true travel motifs (adjusting to life outside the modern world, learning to live with the self, and adapting to the trials of the natural world) I tried to get into why a person is mentally and emotionally drawn to wander. To figure out why people are drawn to the adventure, and to the adventure story.

One of my favorite writers, Joseph Campbell, says that the adventure story is the symbolic expression given to our unconscious desires, fears and tensions that underlie the conscious patterns of human behavior.

We have only to read it, study it’s constant patterns, analyze its variations, and come to an understanding of the deep forces that have shaped man’s destiny and must continue to determine both our private and public lives.

That’s why people are drawn to the adventure story. We are attracted to adventure stories not necessarily because of what they say about the characters in them, rather it is how those aspects relate to the reader’s own experience and journey. If we are all really drawn psychologically to the adventure story, and if the adventure is a lens that give us an alternative perspective through which to view our own lives, then perhaps travel stories and memoirs can act in part as a cloth to polish that lens.

Ryan’s book retails for only $9.95 and is available at: or through Amazon

The Write Way To Travel

So many people say to us, “Jauntie, it must be so cool to be a travel writer!” Well, it is pretty cool, but we always tell them, “You too can be a travel writer. All you need to do is travel and write.”

Of course, then they want to know ‘How To Become a Rich Travel Writer That Jets Off to Amazing Places and Meets Other Amazing Travel Writers,’ but the truth is this… there are no rich travel writers! Making a living as a travel writer is another story altogether, particularly in the Digital Age when so much amazing information is available for free… online. Just like ours!

Plus, it’s not always as glamourous as it sounds. Sometimes, you’re stuck on a press trip with five weirdoes who complain about having to crack their own crab. There is no such thing is an ‘ideal job.’ That said, we came across a book that just might help your creative spirits soar.

After all, how often have you been stuck in an airport while your
 flight is delayed or waiting restlessly in the queue for
 your plane to take off? Air travel is notoriously
unpredictable and uncomfortable.

So, rather than compulsively texting or channel surfing, writing coach Jill Dearman, author of
Bang the Keys: Four Steps to a Lifelong Writing Practice suggests a productive and pleasurable alternative: write, traveler, write!
Bang the Keys is a like a writing workshop in a book. Dearman says, “Many writers feel liberated to bang out
 some quick, creative prose while traveling. The stimuli of
 being on the road is very energizing. There’s so much to
 see and write about, and it’s a great ‘in between
 time’ to tap into one’s imagination. And for those who don’t necessarily self-identify as writers, it’s a great time to just connect with the self, which is what writing
 essentially is, and tell their own stories, which may end up
on a blog or in a travel magazine.”
 Offering writing exercises that can be done while cramped into an airplane seat, all one needs is a notebook and pen or a computer and a desire to connect with oneself. 

In-flight exercises include:

•    FYI: Finding Your (Best) Idea, which
 allows you to play good cop/bad cop in your thoughts and
 pretend your idea is a suspect you are interrogating.

•    Three Minute Miracle Meditation,
 which involves meditation in an airplane seat and an open
 mind to reduce writer’s block

•    Quickies To Uncover Artful &
 Charming Keys To Structure, which has the writer bullet
 point the plot of their favorite story and examine it to
 apply structure to their own piece. 

Bang the Keys is
also filled with great reading about the craft of writing and the experiences of writers famous and unknown, living
and dead.

Dearman’s prose has been published in North Atlantic Review, Lilith, The Portland Review, New York Stories, and numerous other literary magazines. Dearman’s arts and culture features have been published in the New York Daily News, Time Out New York, Publishers Weekly, and many other publications. Her books, Queer Astrology for Men and Queer Astrology for Women (both from St. Martin’s) were on the gay best-seller lists for over a year.