Mariel Hemingway treats fans to book signing, Blisscuits sampling in Bothell
By ANDY NYSTROM
Bothell Reporter Reporter
April 7, 2010 · Updated 2:26 PM
Mariel Hemingway may be a famous actress, author and model, but she's essentially just one of us.
The 48-year-old descendent of literary great, Ernest, strolled into Bothell's Tully's Coffee in Canyon Park Saturday morning joking about being 20 minutes behind schedule.
Dressed in a long gray sweater, white buttoned shirt, black slacks and brown boots, she was on hand to promote her latest book, "Mariel's Kitchen — Simple Ingredients for a Delicious and Satisfying Life," but admits simply to being someone who loves to cook — not a star chef at all.
Hemingway is down to earth, funny, insightful — and also had trouble opening up a bottle of water during her stay in Bothell. Just a regular gal.
After a fan asked her to sign a DVD of "Bad Moon," the 1996 werewolf movie starring Hemingway ("Otherwise known as 'Bad Movie,'" she laughed with a smile), she chatted with the Reporter.
Q: So the book's out now. What was the experience like writing it and what do you feel is special about it?
A: Writing, for me, especially in this field and this space, it's really an expression of my desire to inspire people to be the best they can be. I'm not an actress who got bored (laughs and jokes), 'I'm not making a movie, so maybe I'll write a book' ... I mean this is really my passion in life, and it's been my passion for over 20 years.
I know about food, I love food, I love the environment, I love connecting in nature. You know, my second book was 'Healthy Living from the Inside Out.' I love helping people: My ex-husband had cancer and we helped him through lifestyles. That's why I designed the cooking because it didn't have any sugar, and sugar feeds cancer cells and we didn't want to get it in food. I created this cooking for him, initially, and also for my kids so that they would have a healthy snack. Breathing, lifestyle, yoga, meditation, connecting in nature, connecting with your food, which is really what Mariel's Kitchen is about.
Like going to the farmers' market, supporting your local environment. I think these are really important things that we can do as individuals, to make us more authentically ourselves. It's about inspiration and giving people what it feels like to feel good about themselves and be as healthy as they can be.
Q: Have you always been health-conscious, was it a growing-up thing?
A: I grew up in a really sick family — they were great and creative and wonderful, but there was also a lot of mental illness. My mother had cancer, my father had heart disease and there was diabetes in the family.
I think as protection, as a survival technique, I became obsessed with health. I didn't always make great decisions — I would eat in every different way that you could eat, I've tried every diet, I was in a business that was all about the way you look. I've done all kinds of different things, but it led me to realize that it's about finding your unique self within whatever you're doing, so it's pretty cool.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Blisscuits (healthy cookies that are gluten-free, all-natural, contain cage-free egg whites, omega-3 fatty acids and more than 40 percent organic ingredients with no refined sugar or hydrogenated oils)?
A: Blisscuits, as I told you, were designed for my ex-husband who had cancer, stage-4 melanoma.
I approached him not to do chemotherapy and radiation, because I saw what it did to my mother. And it's not that I say that it's completely bad for everybody, but I've only seen it be completely horrific for most people — it destroys their immune system, even if it kills the cancer, it kills so much of their immune system, they're not the same afterwards.
(So, I told him) Give me a couple months, let's work on this together, your food. So, he was big sweets freak: It was a big joke, I ate all the colored food and he ate all the brown and white food.
And he had to change the way he lived his life, so he had to start eating differently and looking at his life differently — so it was food, it was exercise, it was learning how to meditate, it was having a different perspective.
He's cancer free now — 11 years — I've seen it work, I've seen lifestyle make a big change.
And I also wanted something for my kids — my kids were small at the time. (Langley, now 20, studies fashion at the Parsons School of Design in New York City; and Dree, 22, is a successful model.)
Q: You've got a rich family history. Anything about growing up in the Hemingway family, a philosophy that kind of emerged out of it? A work ethic?
A: A huge reason why I love the outdoors so much and I love nature (is) I believe that's where you find your connection to God, where you find your connection to yourself. And I think Pacific Northwest people understand that, you know, how important it is to be outside.
And my grandfather (Ernest) loved the outdoors, he loved food, and my father did, as well. He was a conservationist, he helped save a bunch of the Snake River back in the day.
It was always part of our life, and going outside was always something that meant a great deal to me. And I always felt like I could really understand my grandfather ... and I didn't know him, he died before I was born, and I surrogately write self-help books hoping that maybe one day I'll have the courage to write a fiction.
Q: So you can read those books, which he wrote, and you can even understand them more. And he went beyond the written word because you can picture yourself right in that place.
A: Yes, exactly, totally.
Q: What's your favorite Hemingway book?
A: I'm producing 'A Movable Feast' into a movie. 'A Movable Feast' is one of my favorites, it's also the time that my father was born and they lived in Paris, it's a really wonderful story.
As far as a great novel, I love 'The Sun Also Rises,' it's just amazing, 'Old Man and the Sea' is a great piece of prose. But 'The Sun Also Rises,' it's sexy, it's young people in Europe, it's the expatriate days.
Q: What about a movie role? (She starred in Woody Allen's 'Manhattan' at age 16 and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1979.)
A: I love everything that I make, because I always like the experience. I'm in a movie in New Zealand, and when it came out it was the worst piece of (trash), I went, 'wow' ... and I had such a good time making it ... you never know.
I love to act, but my passion really is in health and wellness. I'll be acting again, because I do love it, but I only wanna do it if something bright comes along.
There's a lot of junk made, and it's hard, and unless you're at this certain echelon of acting roles, you get just junk. It's kind of like eating junk food: You're just like, 'hmmm,' not really satisfying and it doesn't make you healthier.
Movies have been real teachers for me, they kind of mimic where I am in my life at some level. It may not be on the screen that you can see it, but it was something going on that I needed.
Now, writing my books has been very similar — this one's leading me to the next one ... we're having a blast.
Q: For your ultimate evening in with your boyfriend, what's your go-to meal?
A: For (when it's) cold, we do a lot of soups, so I do a great squash soup, it's super easy. We also make an amazing chicken noodle soup.
He's great at searing meat and doing salsas, and you add that with soup, and we make a gluten-free bread together and that's pretty nice.
• Hemingway favors seasonal foods ("I'm like, oh yeah, I love the artichokes because it's in season. If you were talking to me in November, I'd be into the Thanksgiving dinner").
• Together, Hemingway and her boyfriend are filming a health adventure show, writing a book, "Be You Now," and doing a radio show. ("All my passions are sort of taking shape into real-life things, so it's really fun").
• Her mother studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris with Julia Child, who was the maid of honor at her parents' wedding.
Quote of note:
"Food was a sort of a replacement for love. You know how food can be emotional ... And I realized very early on, food has to come from love. It can't replace love, it doesn't fill holes, but it should come from a place I want to share — it's a service that we give to others and I really believe that the ritual and ceremony behind food is really important for all of us."
Bonus Q and A via e-mail:
Q: You created Blisscuits in 2003, how has the journey been since then in helping people eat healthy? How has it affected your own life?
A: Since creating Blisscuits, I have learned a lot about food and what we as consumers are eating. Delicious, healthy foods can be simple, with few ingredients. It's amazing how many chemicals go into our foods! It's affected my life because I am much more aware of the ingredients in all foods.
Q: You've acted and modeled, do you enjoy this stage just as much? What's the best part?
A: I like what I am doing now ... I feel like I am really helping people, making a difference in their lives by teaching what made a difference in my own life. I love acting and modeling and still do it on occasion. Becoming self actualized with age, I love who I am and the life I live. My partner and I will be coming out with a TV show that will teach true living and wellness through food, adventure and lots of laughter.Contact Bothell Reporter Reporter Andy Nystrom at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-425-483-3732 (ext 5050).