Kåthe von Nagy
HA&L Biographical Sketch for contributor Kåthe von Nagy

        There are many -- a great many – who would agree with Kåthe von Nagy’s assertion that she is not a writer. How then, has this slew of words, over a period of decades, flaked off her like debris from a crumbling comet? It is a topic that comes up among writers – who was this debutante who would show up late and suddenly be a columnist when we were stringers, a regular contributor when we were occasional, a features writer or an assistant-editor? Did we envy her, and the chic leather briefcase from Florence holding its leather-bound dictionary? Who has a leather-bound dictionary, for heaven’s sake?

Contrary to common belief, Kåthe von Nagy’s life had not been one of privilege. She was self-made, the case and dictionary being the only heirlooms from an earlier time. Perhaps my awareness of this explains why she asked that I be the one to collaborate on this biographical sketch. Perhaps she thought it might make me a more sympathetic mediator. Pshaw.

What follows is distilled from a number of conversations/interviews. My comments are in brackets.

Kåthe von Nagy is currently reading Rites of Spring by Modris Eksteins, The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk, Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson, 101 Beautiful Small Towns in France by Simonetta Greggio, Lidia's Italy: 140 Simple and Delicious Recipes from the Ten Places in Italy Lidia Loves Most by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Great Eats Italy by Sandra Gustafson, and The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs.

{What can I say? Anyone can get a library card.}

She is pleased that two French-influenced restaurants have opened on James South, but revels in visits to Le Papillon in Toronto, and recalls this restaurant’s beginnings in Hess Village – better known now as Tim Burton’s Village in the Hammer. The French onion soup, the crêpes, even the house wine – are all the same – wonderfully the same; the same, but in Toronto.

{Well yes, I must agree.}

Kåthe applauds Acclamation on James North and suggests visitors apply vaseline to their spectacles to enhance a sense of elsewhere. The grill is a great idea. Bravo.

{Vaseline! You are beyond belief. I like Acclamation’s view of the armouries, and the Jamesville Laundromat is to
be as admired as Venetian clothes lines.}

Sir Stefan’s – who remembers this fantastic restaurant that was in the Aberdeen area? Bison grass vodka, quails eggs, caviar. At the time, this was the only Hamilton restaurant included in cross-Canada restaurant guides. Never replaced.


So much cheese – so little time. Mickey Maguire’s in Dundas is like traveling the world to really really nice places. Really.

{Kåthe’s use of the word ‘really’ gets on my nerves.}

Thank you to Lo Presti’s for the introduction, warmth, and advice when I did not know a vina da tavola from a pressed duck.

{Did you really say duck?}

Werner, is, for me at least, a fine captain at table.

{Were you ever intimate?}

I remember the first time he came to my table with that enormous pepper mill…

{He was doubtless happy to see you.}

La Luna – thank our lucky moon and stars, and Gary, for this fabulous healthy Lebanese restaurant – actually two of them. Hoya is heavenly. Dalina’s on King William – you are as lovely now as you were when Hamilton had a cinema showing art films. The Black Forest and those delightful Spätzle, schnitzel, wurst.

Three cheers for the farmer’s market. And Plan B. And Sky Dragon.

{Uncle. And to conclude, Kåthe, you are a bon vivant in the best way possible. Throw away your typewriter and let others tell your stories. Did you hear about the time Kåthe was pulled over by the OPP …..}

Now, enjoy Kåthe von Nagy's Calculating Truth and Beauty.  °

[This HA&L biographical sketch and introduction © 2008 Vikram Bondai, Université Nouvelle - Paris 3.]