My first Lit Fest event today was with another writer whom I had never heard or, Jason Licker, which is a great name for a pastry chef, which is what he is. He started in New York but has spent the last 12 years of his career cooking in Asia: Shanghai, Macau, Singapore, and Hong Kong. He did a fairly basic tart demonstration for us, focusing on tropical fruits, but it sounds like his signature dishes involve interesting ingredients like macha, green and black tea, and kumquat peel. The demonstration was fun, and the two tarts we sampled were good - one, made with mixed fruits including some spectacularly delicious mango and a lovely almond cream, was especially tasty.
After the pastry demonstration, I had some time to kill so I walked around the fort area of Galle. Galle was extensively fortified in the 17th century by the Dutch, and the ramparts comprising 'the fort' are still intact. I walked on the walls for a while and then went back to the festival lounge area to wait for the others. I was hanging out, reading a book by the Canadian author, Carol Shields, when I fittingly ran into some old friends from my childhood in Sri Lanka who now live in Toronto.
After lunch, I went to a session with a writer whom I've not only heard of, but whom I actually know, Sunila Galappatti, who was the Lit Fest director in 2009, when I was living in Colombo and was a festival volunteer. Sunila was so impressive all those years ago as the festival director, and she's even more so now all these years later, as author of the book The Long Watch, which is a memoir she wrote after three years of listening to Commodore Ajith Boyagoda tell her his story; the Commodore was the highest ranking officer in the Sri Lankan Navy to be captured by the Tamil Tigers during Sri Lanka's civil war; he was held as a prisoner of war for 8 years. Sunila's interview, during which she talked about the book, the Commodore, the very long interview and writing process, the delicacy needed to write another person's story, and the experience of taking on such a sensitive and nuanced project was interesting and engaging, and it made me want to read the book.