Our Virtual Reality

The Salmon Pink Bookclub Chronicles

The salmon pink book club is run by a tight double act, from two dedicated minds we like to see as complimentary. Irene the saucier and Margaux the baker; Irene’s murder mysteries and Margaux’s identity quests; Irene’s pasta and Margaux’s pulses; Italian Irene and French Margaux.

Words is where we reunite – in learning, transforming and twisting. We share the love for words and the value of their making, existing and becoming. The salmon pink kitchen talks a hybrid mixture of both our accents in English, with a side of fritalian for a spicy kick. Lockdown has changed many aspects of our lives but it did not make us quieter. Short, teasing WhatsApp messages on the go; thoughtful, long emails for the evenings; countless hours on Zoom, swinging around our moka pots first and then the bottle openers. The challenge was to invite our book club members to join our virtual reality at a time when we cannot welcome them at the front door of the salmon pink kitchen.

So we did what we do best: we dissected the words that make our world.

As per the Cambridge dictionary: 

Lockdown
noun [ C or U ] mainly US
UK  /ˈlɒk.daʊn/ US  /ˈlɑːk.daʊn/
a situation in which people are not allowed to enter or leave a building or area freely because of an emergency:
The Secret Service is imposing a virtual lockdown on the city.

Google
noun
 [ U ]   trademark
UK  /ˈɡuː.ɡəl/ US  /ˈɡuː.ɡəl/ 
the name of a search engine (= program for finding information on the internet):
Have you tried Google?


That is when we decided to brave the world wide web to thread a safety net for our book club members. As per our diaries – a.k.a the dictionaries of our lives:

Salmon Pink Bookclub
noun
 [ U ]   trademark
UK  /ˈsæm.ən/ /pɪŋk/ /ˈbʊk ˌklʌb/ US  /ˈsæm.ən/ /pɪŋk/ /ˈbʊk ˌklʌb/
a recurring lively feast where body and mind are equally fed as members discuss a book in focus:
Do you follow the Salmon Pink Bookclub on Instagram?


On to pushing forward the pragmatic side of our minds, cushion for our dreams. The salmon pink bookclub is most importantly a space, thus what we had to do was to create a bridge for this space to exist virtually. We knew we were not going to be able to do so among the ambient chatters and smells that normally make for who we are, so we resigned to creating a virtual salmon pink kitchen. There are a few rooms in this new space.

First, you get in front of our house, where you begin to see the salmon pink kitchen through the window of our Instagram account. Next, you come through the front door and find the shared living area, that is our website. Moving forward, and on to the salmon pink kitchen, you will see the hobs on the left, which have become our private Google Drive account (i.e. 15GB on the cloud for us to cook together book club materials, social media contents and write essays – also known as The Brain). What you’ll do next is sitting at the wobbly wooden table in front of the hobs, together with other members, remaking the world and enjoying a glass of wine, from one home to another, via Google Hangouts.

The hardest part of hosting a virtual book club is asking our salmon pink sisters to mute themselves, with the aim to run the conversation smoothly and to speak in turns. For a woman to ask another woman to mute herself is violent and we miss the vivid and excited voices that normally rhythm book club Sundays. The virtual space has also meant that we have been able to bridge borders in inviting new members – a little fuck you corona, if we may – as we now have members logging in from Italy and across the UK.

It hasn’t been free of technical glitches. We have bitten a few nails as we navigated WordPress and Google Hangouts – does anyone know how to see everyone’s screens in one gallery only?! – let alone the times we thought a document had been lost before we recovered it magically from the cloud. There was the day a member joined the hangout with her fiancé’s account and we thought ‘Richard’ had joined the salmon pink bookclub. There was also the day when we found ourselves editing one of our shared documents together at the same time, without warning. Here is a snapshot of the salmon pink brain:

There are aspects we cannot wait to find again once social distancing restrictions lift – writing shopping lists together, working our hands over the hob and oven as our minds rapidly type our notes, dramatically reading book passages to one another – but there are other lessons we have learnt in bringing people together through the love of words during a pandemic, which we want to carry back with us once we can be in the same room. What we know for sure is that the salmon pink kitchen is a space that doesn’t need four walls to exist. It thrives on a solid diet of sharing, caring and listening, and long may they live in our virtual reality.

Looking back at these past 10 weeks, we realise that we have launched streams of salmon pink from our kitchen and beyond, and we love the salmon pink love.

Madonna, Irene says; Wild, Margaux replies.

Published by The Salmon Pink Kitchen

Cooking, reading and writing from a salmon pink kitchen, Gastronomically yours, Irene & Margaux

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