Three Questions with Field & Feast's Cecilia Nasti
Cecilia Nasti, creator, producer and host of “Field & Feast,” has decided to take a break from producing her long-running show about good food from the ground up. The final installment of the five-minute radio series airs Sunday, Dec. 30 – at 7:35 a.m. on KUT 90.5 and 9:55 a.m. on KUTX 98.9.
Since January 2011, “Field & Feast” has highlighted local home and professional gardeners, as well as cooks, discussing growing and preparing food.
Memorable episodes from the series include: Asleep at the Wheel front man Ray Benson sharing the recipe for his famous corn soup. Maria Rodale, former CEO of Rodale Publishing, talking about the need for the environmental, organic and health movements to work together. And Ellen Sweets’ book about her culinary hijinks with the late Molly Ivins and a particular story about the time Molly unknowingly cut her finger while chopping onions for gumbo to be served at a dinner party the next evening.
“Field & Feast” was an off-shoot of the five-minute horticulture how-to show Growing Concerns, which aired on KUT 90.5 for 22 years.
Cecilia says she’s enjoyed being able to contribute to the programming and mission of KUT and KUTX for all these years. “It'll be odd not being on the air on KUT every week. I've been with the station, and on the air in some form or fashion since 1982. That's a lifetime. And it's been a good life.”
We wanted to give Cecilia a send-off by featuring her in our Three Questions series.
What are you listening to these days?
Up until about a week ago, I spent a month listening the to the 24/7 whirring of industrial-sized air scrubbers and dehumidifiers in my home, placed there due to water damage and mold remediation. Now that they are gone, I’m actually enjoying the silence (until the rebuilding begins). But you can’t keep a good listener down. Lately I’ve been reacquainting myself with Marvin Gaye’s work. I have enjoyed his music when I’ve heard it on the radio, but never actually sought it out. I think my run-in with home issues and asking myself over and again “what's going on” sent me to his songbook. His songs tell a story. He’s soulful, expressive and – he’s Marvin Gaye! It’s been fun. I think he’s timeless.
As far as other listening, I thoroughly enjoy the BBC World Service offering called The Food Chain. It is a fascinating half-hour exploration into the various aspects of our sustenance and the people who bring it to us. Host Emily Thompson is a great storyteller; I always learn something. The last one I heard was about why decaffeinated coffee doesn’t seem to satisfy the way regular beans do. It’s not just about the caffeine, or our attitude toward “buzzless-beans.” It’s about bean quality and the processes involved removing the caffeine. Most roasters use lower quality beans and cheap chemical processes to remove the caffeine, because if they used high quality beans and the more costly water processing, the cost of a cup of decaf coffee would go through the roof. I’ll never look at decaf coffee the same again.
And another podcast I like is Think with Krys Boyd. She has got to be the best interviewer I have ever heard. She asks insightful questions, really drawing out her guests. The topics she covers are varied and interesting. I get caught up in subjects I might not have perused on my own – and sometimes never thought I'd find interesting. And whenever she has an author on the show, I’m in trouble; she and her show are responsible for a “few” of the books sitting on my bedside table right now.
Read anything interesting lately?
Most of the reading I do these days is for my work at Texas Parks and Wildlife, where I produce Passport to Texas, a statewide radio series about the outdoors, and am developing a long-format podcast to go along with that. Right now, I have been reading a lot about pollinators from a wide variety of online sources. But as far as books I am reading when I have time for “reading for pleasure,” I need to go back to Think with Krys Boyd. Currently I am enjoying “Why Time Flies” by Alan Burdick. He was a guest on her show; he was informative, entertaining and communicated concepts about how we understand and perceive time in ways that made me want to know more. The book is compelling and I look forward to having time to sit for more than a few minutes to really get into it. Another is “The Royal Art of Poison” by Eleanor Herman. Who knew that the history of poison and the elite class could be so entertaining? And finally, any time I can get my hands on a book by Mary Roach, I am happy. “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” was my introduction to her work. She’s a science writer who conveys what could otherwise be dry and complicated topics into something thoroughly accessible and even side-splittingly funny. Highly recommended.
What are you loving about the ATX lately?
What am I loving about ATX lately? That's hard to say. I moved to Texas in 1979, after college, to spend a year as a VISTA Volunteer. My week-long orientation took place in Austin; and when we had time off we explored the city. I felt an immediate connection to the town and the people. I ended up in Lockhart working with the indigent elderly (which was a phenomenal experience), but whenever my VISTA pals and I had time off, we were in Austin. It’s where I found intelligent, kind, funny, creative and generous people. I found great music venues – like the Armadillo – filled with great music. I found Ether’s Follies, Threadgills and Tex-Mex food, and so much more. And while there have been a multitude of changes – not all good – the spirit and optimism remains. And I think that’s what I have loved for a long time, and continue to love, about this weird and wonderful place.