Thursday, January 29, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Joshua Done, Author of The Exile Empire

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7236682-the-exile-empire



A few days ago I received a pleasant surprise in the form of a Goodreads message from Shelley. She wanted to know if I would be willing to talk about the food in my story and the significance and story behind it. Immediately I thought of one meal that stands out in The Exile Empire. It took an invasion, thousands of lives, and the formation of an entirely new economy for the new recipe to exist.

One of the primary components in The Exile Empire is obviously the fact that humans have been dispersed from their old area of space. The problem with such diaspora in the vastness of interstellar space filled with hostile enemies is the relative lack of resources, and chief among them food! This had become more than an inconvenience by the time the major events of the story began to unfold and the human exiles were getting quite desperate.

But that was when they found a new system with edible plants and animals a-plenty. There was only one catch. The planet was in a system crawling with hostile enemies that had just conquered the natives on a nearby planet and the humans would have to fight their way to the new food source.

After the initial scouts are attacked the remaining human fleet springs into action, moving to protect both their people and the precious food on the planet below. After the carnage that ensues there is still a major problem in that most of the edibles are either in raw, indigestible form, or spread around the planet in roaming herds that weren’t big enough to feed everyone.

That is when Karen, an economic and business savant from the old civilization, was brought in. Over the course of several chapters she takes the rag-tag remnants of a mixed civilian and military fleet and is able to create a fully functioning economy and foodstuffs supply chain in only a few days. Now, of course such a supply line would be highly limited in what it could produce. The two main foods that resulted from this endeavor are a grain called a sand nut and meat from a creature called an Abe.

The sand nuts had to be refined because in their raw form they contain a powerful laxative (something a few of the initial colonists lacking caution found out in humorous fashion). The Abes were similar to earth cattle and because of this similarity people started calling them Alien Bison when they first encountered them. This lead to the abbreviation ‘A’ ‘B’ which Wen said aloud sounds like “ABE” and after a few rounds of repetition the name stuck. The end result of all these shenanigans was a pita-bread-like wrap around an Abe meat filling.

These resulting Sh’in Wraps (named for the planet) quickly became a staple in the new civilization and they appear in subsequent stories throughout the series. It is amazing how much history and work can go into the simplest of foods, and science fiction, since it involves people and supply chains, should be no exception. I think that the Sh’in Wraps are an excellent example of simple food created by a complex setting.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Joshua!


You can find Joshua here:


 




Thursday, January 22, 2015

FOODFIC: Dust Girl - Sarah Zettel



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12795973-dust-girl

Callie LeRoux knows dust. And that’s about it, really, since everything she thought she knew just blew away like, well, dust. In a dust storm. That’s literal, by the way.

You see, this “dust girl” of Dust-Bowl era Kansas lives with her mother in the Imperial Hotel which her grandparents started back when there were people passing through and money to be made. The “black blizzards” and the Depression have driven away both, as well as all but a handful of townsfolk. Really, the doctor should’ve taken the town sign with him as he pulled out hours before the story-changing storm blew in.

So, in the pre-storm hours of that fateful day in April, Callie knew  3 things:

1. She had to wear a scarf over her mouth every time she went  outside to keep her dust pneumonia from worsening.

2. The last name people knew her by – McGinty – came from a traveling salesman Mama let the town believe was her father. Her real papa’s promise to return is what kept Mama in Slow Run long after it ceased being a safe or in any way pleasant place to be.

3. NO ONE was supposed to touch the grand piano under the sheet in the Moonlight Room.
But then Mama changed the rules. She ordered Callie to play, and, like the parabled flap of world-altering butterfly wings, Callie’s touch on the piano triggers a catastrophic ripple that brings on the storm of all storms. Its winds carry away her mother and its wake deposits a family of human locusts at door. Okay, not actually humans nor locusts, but fairies, who reveal that Callie is also one of them. Thus begins Callie’s epic (and first ever) journey out of Slow Run to search for both her parents and her true self.

Little by little, or in her case too much by none and over again, Callie learns about her magic, the best lesson of all (and from my favorite character in the book) being this: “It’s like pepper in the soup – you want just enough to do the job, and no more.”

I think that’s the kind of food for thought both humans and fae can digest. ;)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Michael Draper, Author of Three Strikes and You're Dead

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22912911-three-strikes-and-you-re-dead



Restaurants and food have an important part in Three Strikes and You're Dead. I believe that a good book should appeal to the various senses – to see, as in well prepared food; to smell, where the aroma of food gets the stomach juiced flowing; and to taste, which is the icing on the food palate.

Early in the story, a trio of friends are meeting at a local coffee shop. Roseanne is the motivator of the group and the force behind them. She feels that her persuasive ability is strongest in a setting outside the four walls of her office. The restaurant has gourmet foods displayed on the counter with various coffee cakes, pastries and toppings for English muffins. There are six choices of coffee from French Vanilla to English Roast on display, enhanced by the aroma of freshly ground coffee.

Roseanne has big news to deliver, so she shares with her brother a light exchange to set the tone: Graham tells Roseanne that she's had so much coffee that her eyes are blinking in Morse code; Roseanne counters, "Your hands are so shaky that when you go to a Mexican restaurant people use your handshake to blend their Margaritas.”

Within this relaxed atmosphere, Roseanne tells the others that she has decided to change careers and become a private investigator. She also wants Graham and Randy to join her in this endeavor because they are a great team; they worked together in the past to solve her husband’s murder. She points out each person’s strongest asset;  where Roseanne has the creativity to pick worthwhile endeavors, Graham possesses the knowledge of investigatory methods from his military experience, and Randy is analytical, reliable, and also able to handle Graham, who has a tendency to fly off the handle.

Yes, Roseanne understands the way to a man's heart is through the stomach, and we see this more than once. After the trio has been working at the agency for a time, Roseanne serves Graham and Randy dinner at her home, starting with a shrimp and scallop casino, followed by veal Marsala with homemade bread from the local Italian bakery, and ending with chocolate mousse.

Once everyone was content and receptive, Roseanne announced that she had applied to the Baseball Commissioner to be part of the investigation group hunting for a murder. The food and wine her brother brought made sure the two men were not upset that she moved without consulting them.

Restaurants also bring a visual element to important scenes. After the three investigators spent time in Florida, they went to a restaurant that their hotel recommended:

At the Blue Door Terrace, their seats overlooked the terrace with its royal palms and fig trees. The white bottom painted on the fig trees added an extra color to the setting, as did the potted trees placed throughout. Randy spotted ficus, mango and hibiscus trees displaying their burgundy red blooms in pictorial fashion. As the group waited for their food, small brown birds fluttered around the tables looking for crumbs.

This is just the point in the story where things are starting to gel; the murderer has left a trail that the investigators can see and they’ve called an FBI friend who he leads them to the climactic confrontation.

So, in Three Strikes and You're Dead, food and drink help relax the characters almost every time they need to make decisions as to what course of action they will take. Works in the story just as well as in real life.
:)
 


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Mike!


You can find Mike here:








Monday, January 5, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Cindy Cromer, Author of Desperate Deceptions

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23597915-desperate-deceptions

I had quite a bit of fun preparing for this post, especially since cooking isn't my forte. My favorite recipes are nuke it, deliver it, or drive through. I don't enjoy cooking but do feed my characters very well. In my first mystery/suspense novel Desperate Measures, the main characters dined on lobster in the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts. Oops! There was a meal none of the characters should have ingested and I promise I didn't cook it! One delectable seafood dish had become poisoned by the unknown villain on a rampage of destruction and revenge.

In my second novel, Desperate Deceptions, the characters meals are less extravagant but reflect my roots from New Jersey and some of those hometown favorite foods you just can't get down here in Florida. In one scene the main character craves White Castle hamburgers when she arrives in New Your City. Can't get those in the Sunshine State nor authentic Russian dressing.


From Desperate Deceptions:

As glad as he was to see Caitlin, Barry willed the impromptu meal to come to a quick end. He silently cursed Jack and Lukas before but now everything stood in the path of his wrath. He put on a fa├žade and took another bite of his Reuben sandwich then grimaced. Another check on his bitch list today, this damn dingy diner couldn’t even get a Reuben sandwich right. The crunch in the dressing meant it was Thousand Island, not Russian. Any self-respecting restaurant/deli, especially in New York and even this dive, should know the proper ingredients to a simple world famous sandwich.

His patience wearing thin, Barry abruptly stood, kissed Caitlin on the cheek and promised to call tomorrow. After he threw some bills on the table he shook Chris’s hand and made eye contact. He didn’t need to say anything further, the message was clear: Take care of her and no screw-ups this time. Satisfied with the involuntary flinch Chris exhibited, Barry left.

On his way to his office thoughts, theories, and questions collided in Barry’s mind. Once he settled himself at his desk he prepared for the phone call he intended to place. His mind played various scenarios but one scene was certain; a confrontation.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Cindy!


You can find Cindy here:






Friday, January 2, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Amy Grech, Author of Blanket of White

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6803306-blanket-of-white



Food and drink play a pivotal role in several of the 14 dark tales contained within my collection, Blanket of White:

In the title story, husband and wife drink coffee in their kitchen, wrapping their hands around the mugs for comfort, as they discuss their wheelchair-bound daughter Suzy; there are snow angels in her future…

“Raven’s Revenge”: Steaming mugs of hot chocolate warm up Jackie Crawford and her boyfriend, Jeff Dutton, on a bone-chilling winter’s night.

“Perishables”:  After a nuclear attack, Placido Sanchez sits hunkered down in his basement surrounded by empty, dented cans of baked beans. He eats his wife Julia’s remains, flawlessly persevered in a walk-in freezer. His wife's thighs contained the sweetest meat he ever tasted.

The potent rum cocktail Zombie is Jack Masoch’s undoing in “Cold Comfort” after he meets Sadie O'Grady in a seedy New York City bar.

David Sheffield feasts on Chinese food that sustains him and brings him good fortune on “Initiation Day”, when he meets up with Jim Hanson by the train tracks behind their high school to carry out a dangerous dare.

In “Crosshairs”, Billy Hogan’s father swigs single-malt whiskey at the kitchen table as his son drinks root beer while the elder Hogan schools the younger one about the striking seminaries between handling a woman and a gun.

“Apple of My Eye”: Gia orders Chardonnay to dull her senses after going a few rounds with Daddy’s carving knife. A Martini is the drink of choice for a devious Eye Doctor who sets his sights on the wrong girl…



Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Amy!