Thursday, February 16, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Maria Murnane, Author of Perfect on Paper

What is it about Waverly Bryson and Dino’s Pizza?

In my first two novels, Perfect on Paper, and It’s a Waverly Life, Waverly Bryson and her two best friends frequently get together at Dino’s Pizza, located in the heart of the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. While Waverly is not a real person, Dino’s is a real restaurant, and I have many fond memories from the years I spent living around the corner.

Brooklyn is my home these days, but my parents and sisters are still in the San Francisco suburbs, and I visit them often. Whenever I’m in town I usually drive by Dino’s at least once, and I inevitably feel a sense of nostalgia not just for my own past, but for Waverly’s too. The backdrop of her life is based on mine (I like to say that her life is my life if my life were more exciting), and when I see Dino’s I remember the days when my girlfriends and I would plop down at a table, order a pizza and a pitcher of beer, and wonder out loud when we were finally going to figure out our lives. Be it problems with boyfriends or work or family, there was always some sort of drama swirling around, and talking through our angst at Dino’s always made us feel better, even if we rarely came up with any answers. Dino himself was often working when we ate there, and I loved that he would stop by our table to say hello. It made me feel like a part of a small community within a large city.

Fast-forward a few years, and I’ve now written eight novels, all of which I realize share a similar theme: No one really has it all figured out! We’re all just people trying our best, trying to get by, trying to be happy, trying to get the most out of this magical and mysterious experience called life. My characters, like myself, may never know without a doubt that they’re headed in the right direction, but one thing they do know for sure is that with good friends by their side the journey is much easier—and a lot more fun.

Throw in some pizza and beers from Dino’s, and it’s even better! J
 -Maria Murnane

p.s. My new book, Bridges: A Daphne White Novel, is coming out this spring. I hope you will check it out!

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

You can find Maria here:

Friday, February 10, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Gemma Mawdsley, Author of The Paupers' Graveyard

The most frustrating thing that was said to me as a budding writer was, “write what you know.” This one sentence made me stop short and realise that I didn’t know very much and certainly nothing that anyone would want to read about. Another thing they tell you is to find your voice. How I struggled to find a genre where I would fit in until giving up on the standard ones and combining history with horror. My first novel, The Paupers' Graveyard, dealt with a very important time in Irish history, the time of the Great Famine. As I wrote, I began to realise that food, like most things in life, only becomes important when there is a shortage of it. Even before the famine, those who worked on the land were poor and their diet lacked all the nutrients we have come to take for granted. Potatoes were the mainstay, and on rare occasion’s pieces of dried fish, but this was for the man of the house, as he was the breadwinner. It seems such a meagre thing, a piece of dried fish, but to hear twelve-year-old Timmy describe it, it was mouth-watering:

Timmy watched as his mother studied her husband, and when she was sure he wasn’t looking, she took bits of the flaked fish in her fingers and fed them to the younger children. Rose and Tom opened and closed their mouths soundlessly, reminding Timmy of the fledgling in the trees beside their cabin. He would have loved some of the dried fish and, licking his lips; he tasted the salt from the potatoes and pretended it was from the fish.

It is hard to imagine the pleasure derived from such a small morsel, or the pleasure a young boy would have found in it. Once the blight hit and the potatoes failed, within a year most of Timmy and his kind would have nothing and many were reduced to eating grass!

On the opposite scale, the gentry who remained in the country fared just as badly. Like Elizabeth, the lady of the manor, now reduced to the status of the poor relation. After the untimely death of her husband, her failure to produce a male heir means she is now at the mercy of her brother-in-law. At the height of the famine she flees with her three, young daughters to the nearest port, in the hope of a passage to America. Despite selling her jewels she only has enough to send her three daughters and must return alone to the home she once loved, but will now be her prison.  Heartbroken, she wandered for days before reaching home and on her arrival describes the feast waiting there:

She sipped at the soup, savouring every mouthful. The butler had placed a large platter containing a joint of roast beef on the serving trolley nearby. The smell made her mouth water and she felt guilty at what she saw as a betrayal of her sorrow. A plate was placed in front of her, filled with the carved beef, carrots and bread. Once she tasted the food she wanted more. Nothing had ever tasted that good. The juices trapped within the fleshy meat leaked out, bathing and caressing her tongue. In her hurry, she swallowed chunks that momentarily stuck in her throat. The butler refilled her plate twice, and she blushed at her lust for food. Once, when she inadvertently caught Carey’s eye, he winked and remarked, “Hunger makes sweet sauce. Doesn’t it, Elizabeth?” 

Despite the horror of the famine, a friendship blossomed in the unlikeliest of places. Amidst the squalor of the workhouse, a fugitive lady of the manor and a young farm labourer rescue orphaned children and do their best to save them from the fate of a paupers’ graveyard.

Still, today, Ireland is a land dotted with reminders of a time of famine. From the paupers’ graveyards, many overgrown and hidden among the weeds, to the abandoned ruins of villages; left behind by those fleeing from its horror. These places exists and have becomes stories that old women whisper about around winter fire to wide-eyed children and cross themselves in fear. Though over a hundred-and-fifty years have passed, the memory of a time when the crops failed and famine spread over the land like a dark shadow, is still fresh in the minds of those who fear it still.

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

You can find Gemma here:

Thursday, February 2, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lee Bice-Matheson, Author of the Paige Maddison Series

Food is essential, it’s delectable, it’s a chance to be social and discuss over a favourite meal what’s important in our characters’ lives. Food provides fuel … energy for our mind, body, and soul. At least that’s what our teen heroine, Paige Maddison, believes.

In our new release, Shine Your Light, Paige reveals in detail the meals or the snacks she’s eating. Paige is a lightworker: a soldier, fighting for good on behalf of humankind. She is passionate, rambunctious, and spontaneous … but she knows the importance of keeping up her energy to fight evil that seems to present itself at the most inopportune moments.

In one of the first scenes, Paige finds herself and her friends trapped in a run-down cottage. They are snowbound with no idea of how they’ll be rescued. Her friend, Allan Brewer, his step- daughter Trixie, and BFF Carole try to calm Paige down and comfort her … with ‘what’s to eat.’ In a childlike voice, Trixie declares: We have ‘granola bars, mixed nuts, juice boxes, and lots of bottled water.’ Paige settles down and smiles.

Sometimes, we make or bake a favorite recipe or type of food to apologize. In a very emotional scene (Paige had been hospitalized for a week), the family caregiver, Hannah, greets Paige with the announcement she’s made her faves – blueberry muffins and wafts the smell to her. This scene is integral as Paige had put herself in jeopardy to travel to the cottage and Hannah let her go that day when the weather was unpredictable. She uses the moment to ‘make-up’ to Paige and admits as the ‘adult’ she should never have let her leave.

In a hilarious scene, Paige’s Dad relays the story of her mom eating seafood in Italy. It wasn’t what her mom thought it would be. It provides a cultural culinary lesson that her parents bonded over. Paige’s dad explains life in Italy: “Well … the look on her face …” Dad laughed, glancing at Mom as he relived the memory. “The fish still had its head, tail, and everything in between, and the platter came with octopus and calamari with no breading, no deep-frying like we’re used to here. Your mom could barely look at it, let alone eat it.” This scene is based on our family trip to Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy. It’s great to draw upon our own life experiences.

A writer sometimes includes comic relief in a series where many emotional issues are touched upon from family estrangement, betrayal, unconditional love, strength of friendships, inner strength, anger, unwavering loyalty, and many more themes. The O’Brien family – Paige, her mom, Lori, and her grandparents, Ted and Helen, decide to make pickles. It is a touching, comical, bonding moment. “Paige, did you know that Cleopatra, the last reigning pharaoh of Egypt, loved pickles? Apparently, it goes back centuries, this need to make the best sour pickles. You are a fearless fermenter, dear.”

In one of the final scenes with an upcoming epic battle on All Hallows’ Eve, Paige sneaks into the kitchen to gather nourishment: Before dawn broke, I crept up to the secret chamber room one last time. I brought snacks that I knew would give me lots of energy on this hell-raising day. Nuts with coconut pieces, beef jerky, dried dates, and carrots would have to sustain me.

We cannot survive without rich soil to grow crops so we can eat, as we cannot survive without good air, or pure water. The Paige Maddison Series draws attention to environmental pollution throughout the novels. Let’s hope our decisions today affecting the growth of crops, research on global warming, and the study of water and air pollution bring us a hopeful future.

Thank you again, Shelley, for hosting us. :) It is an important topic and ingenious blog.
Have a Healthy and Happy 2017.

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

You can find Lee and the books here:

Paige Maddison Series: Written by Mom-Son coauthors J.R. Matheson and Lee Bice-Matheson 
Wake Me Up Inside, Book One, won a literacy award from the Readers’ Advisory Panel, Orillia Public Library, and is included in The Battle of the Books, Simcoe County, a literacy program.
Destiny’s Gate, Book Two, is also included in the literacy program, The Battle of the Books.
Shine Your Light, Book Three, is our new release and a best-selling novel. We are forever grateful., paperback edition for Teens and Young Adult Ghost Stories. It was also #2 Hot New Release and one behind Stephenie Meyer’s new release of the Twilight Saga.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Bernadette Marie, Author of The Three Wives of Adam Monroe

I had never been asked to write about the food in my books before. Quite a unique twist, I thought. When an author works on a story, character development is crucial. We think about their eyes, their hair, how they walk, and what they do for a living. However, a key element in who they are is building the world around them—including what they eat and how.

Each of the books in my The Three Mrs. Monroes series is titled after the character followed in the story—Amelia, Penelope, and Vivian.

Amelia Monroe, a martial artist who trains soldiers, is fit and loves a good meal. When she meets Sam, a lawyer, they find comfort in sharing meals. For a woman who loves to eat, and is very fit, a huge steak (on the rare side!) with all the fixin’s is just her style. Part of the fun with Amelia was her no excuses attitude. Sam watches her devour the steak and wash it down with beer. No dainty manners there, okay, not that she was disgusting, just comfortable with herself. When they meet for breakfast, she’s enticed by the promise of huge cinnamon rolls, but let’s be clear, she’s going to run that off with a six-mile run.

Penelope Monroe is the polar opposite of Amelia. Fragile in personality and pregnant to boot, she’s been lucky to survive on carry-out and frozen dinners. However, when she meets Brock, who comes from a solid family and homemade meals, she pours herself into a meal of spaghetti and meatballs to impress him. After all, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and it’s a fairly hard meal to mess up.

Vivian Monroe has been playing happy homemaker for years. The mother of two young girls, food is made to appease her children. When she becomes involved with Clayton, who also has two young daughters, you can bet they bond over pizza and chicken nuggets. When the girls are not present, an adult beverage is in order. Of course, the promise of biscuits and gravy is sometimes the surefire way to a man’s heart. It doesn’t have to be homemade to be a comfort food either.

Throughout the trilogy, as Amelia, Penelope, and Vivian bond and solidify their friendship, food and drink play a huge roll. There are many meals shared between the strangers who become friends, but drinks might be a better guide through their bonding. Drink is a fantastic way for people to enjoy the company of others. Coffee plays a huge roll in the formation of the relationship between the women. Everyone is calmer when there’s a hot beverage in their hands, right? From coffee when presented with bad news, to meeting at a coffee house, or the warm cup of Joe in a friend’s kitchen, coffee can bring people together.

When friendships are developed, wine certainly plays a roll. Women who have bonded are comfortable around each other sit and sip wine, and that was key in showing their relationship grow. Of course, celebrations call for a little bubbly as well, and each book certainly spotlights a celebration as each woman grows as a person on her own.

Food and drink will forever bond people. It is a great way to introduce characters and their special characteristics to readers, as it is a common bond we can have with them.

Thanks for hanging out with me today. And thank you Shelley for having me. So here’s me lifting my coffee mug to you all, cheers! I hope you’ll visit Amelia, Penelope, and Vivian with your favorite beverage and bond with them as well.

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

Friday, January 20, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Gale Martin, Author of Don Juan in Hankey PA

Good Food Still Abounds in Hankey, PA

Though once a thriving small town, Hankey, Pennsylvania, became part of the Pennsylvania Rust Belt when the steel mill closed and the ranks of high-paid executives and managers moved away in 2005. As a result, most of the finer restaurants and eateries closed, too.

Who can afford to dine at the Colonel Hankey Inn anymore, with entrees like Drunken Lamb, braised in porter and priced รก la carte at $25 a plate?

Okay, maybe Richard Rohrer, the retired dermatologist and former chair of the Hankey Opera Guild springs for fine dining frequently. Oh, and his girlfriend Vivian Pirelli, the bipolar ketchup heiress, whose family made their fortune pulverizing tomatoes. Compared to a decade ago when the economy was robust, only a handful of Hankeyans are keeping the Colonel Hankey afloat.

Deanna Lundquist, the current chair of the Opera Guild, prefers to entertain the rest of the guild in her beautifully appointed home. She is busy burning through her divorce settlement faster than you can say, “replacement trophy wife.” Deanna adores a menu of heavy hors d’oeuvres paired with fine wines, such as Duck Confit which she serves with an Australian Shiraz, or goat cheese crostini with a crisp Napa Valley Sauvignon. It pains her to spend good money on all those gluten-free options for Vivian, who has every food allergy known to womankind, and definitely not Deanna’s favorite person. But Deanna is nothing if not a gracious hostess (with designs on a lead gift from Vivian’s family foundation to keep the opera guild in the black), so gluten-free wins out over full flavor every time Vivian is on the guest list.

While the Colonel Hankey Inn no longer fits most folks’ budgets, the Steel City Diner with their $1.99 week day breakfast special is the perfect option for everyone and as popular as ever with displaced workers, cheapskates, and Belgian-waffle lovers of every economic stripe.  That diner must use half a can of real whipped cream on each perfectly golden, berry-bedecked waffle.

For big celebrations like opening night parties, the Opera Guild relies on Luigi’s Italian Trattoria for tasty yet affordable receptions, like the one they threw after the premier of their new production of Don Giovanni, featuring the Argentine sensation Leandro Vasquez singing the title role. Sometimes Luigi even throws in the cannolis—on the house—provided the guild orders three entrees or more for the buffet.

If productions keep selling out like Don Giovanni, perhaps the guild can move their opening night receptions back to the Coloney Hankey Inn someday soon. Their calamari with spicy tomato dipping sauce tops Luigi’s pedestrian marinara every time.

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

You can find Gale here:

Friday, January 13, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Paula Margulies, Author of Favorite Daughter

I wrote my first historical novel, Favorite Daughter, Part One, because I wanted to tell the story of Pocahontas in her own voice, from her point of view (rather than the John Smith version of her history we learned in school). When I first began writing the novel, I quickly learned that the backbone of good writing in a historical is a reflection of the amount of research the writer does. With that in mind, I spent many hours studying the culture and traditions of the Powhatan and Algonquian tribes. While researching, I learned that the Powhatan tribe had a rich culture of agriculture and food husbandry.

The Powhatan tribe planted corn, vegetables (beans, pumpkins, and squash), and harvested fruit and nuts from the surrounding area. In addition, they hunted and fished, so that meat was abundant in their diet. The Powhatans hunted deer and wild hogs and caught many types of wild birds, including geese, turkey, and other types of local fowl. They ate dried meat, beans, corn, and fruit, including apples and wild berries, in the winter months. A favorite Powhatan dish was a vegetable stew called pausarowmena, and celebrations included fermented drinks, like puccahiccora. The Powhatans also baked a cornbread called apone.

The Powhatan women did most of the gathering of wild fruits and berries and plucked the feathers from the wild fowl caught by the men. In addition, the women gutted, butchered, and smoked the meat hunted by the male members of the tribe, and also tanned and smoked the hides to use as coats and blankets. Deer and hog stomachs were used to carry water. When courting, the young Powhatan males often made gifts of the wild birds they hunted to their chosen mates.

The Powhatan tribe lived in wooden roundhouses that contained centralized kitchen areas, which consisted of a large fire for cooking, utensils made from wood and stone, and stone tools and surfaces for grinding, cutting, and carving food items. The kitchens were run by the elder women in the tribe, with younger women helping to prepare and serve as required.

When researching the characters for my novel, I learned that Pocahontas was keenly interested in her father's political work in both the villages that were part of the tribe and in the interaction with the white settlers living across from what is now known as the James River. She was a king's daughter, so she was not required to cook or harvest, although when younger, she did spend time helping her older sisters with those tasks.

Her oldest sister, Mattachana, was a mother figure for Pocahontas, since Pocahontas's mother died in childbirth. Pocahontas helped Mattachana with the traditional women's chores regarding cooking and eating, but Pocahontas was not tied to the kitchen the way her older sisters were.

Initially, the Powhatans were generous with the white settlers, bringing them food in the harsh winters and trading corn with them for trinkets and tools. As the relationship soured between Powhatan and the white leaders, food became an issue for both sides. John Smith was known to invade Powhatan villages and strong-arm the villagers if they would not give him corn. As the harsh winter months continued and the settlers refused to give up their poorly situated fort on the Chesapeake shore, they found food to be so scarce that many of them starved to death.

The Powhatans also felt the brunt of harsh winters, partially from poor crops given up by weak harvests and partly because the settlers demanded so much of the natives' stores. Eventually, as the tribes fought the settlers, food became scarce and was often an issue for both parties during years of poor harvests and war-related conflict.

Of course, the legend of Pocahontas originates around her willingness to bring food to the starving settlers when they first arrived on the Chesapeake. Her friendship with John Smith and the favored position she held with her father allowed her to be the conduit for many of the food supplies that saved the settlers in their early years in the new land.

Eventually, Pocahontas was abducted by the English settlers and converted to Christianity. By that time, the tribe's relationship with the settlers had deteriorated, and the settlers had become better at growing some of the local crops like tobacco and corn. Pocahontas eventually married one of the settlers, John Rolfe, who was a tobacco farmer. She was brought by the colonists to London, England, where she became a celebrity of sorts and met the king and queen (and also reunited with John Smith, a meeting that reportedly did not go well). On her way back to the colonies, she came down with either pneumonia or tuberculosis and died, although members of the Mattaponi tribe claims she was, in fact, murdered. (Stay tuned! These events will be covered in Favorite Daughter, Part Two, which I’m writing now.)

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

Paula Margulies is the owner of Paula Margulies Communications, a public relations firm for authors and artists. She has received numerous awards for her essays and books, including her nonfiction handbook, The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner’s Guide to Book Promotion; her historical novel, Favorite Daughter, Part One; her debut novel, Coyote Heart; and her short story collection, Face Value: Collected Stories. Paula is a contributor to a number of blogsites and webzines, including Author Magazine and The Feisty Writer. She has been awarded artist residencies at Caldera, Red Cinder Artist Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and Centrum. Paula resides in San Diego, California.

You can find Paula here:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Marla Madison, Author of Girl Undone

Girl Undone is the third book in my TJ Peacock and Lisa Rayburn suspense series. The main characters in Girl Undone, private investigator TJ Peacock and psychologist Lisa Rayburn, are women at opposite ends of the food addiction scale. TJ, slender and wiry, is one of those fortunate people who so many of us envy; she can eat all she wants—and she prefers junk food and comfort food—without gaining weight. Lisa looks on disgustedly when TJ packs in the food, while she, a more generously proportioned woman, has to watch every bite.

Despite their many differences, the women become fast friends, and their working relationship continues through the series. In Girl Undone, the two women are hired to find out why a young woman was abducted for a period of three days then allowed to escape. Lisa and TJ fall into a web of mystery, murder, and mayhem trying to discover why the girl, who remembers nothing, was held against her will.

My characters frequently share holidays and meals together. TJ prefers fast food stops, while Lisa enjoys preparing traditional holiday meals for a crowd. I have to admit that I am more like TJ in my food tastes; I love junk food. But I also like the traditional holiday fare and enjoy preparing it for my loved ones. A deadly combination of tastes for someone who has to watch her weight!

Being a woman who has had a love/hate relationship with food my entire life, I naturally added a lot of meal detail to the first book of this series, She’s Not There. My blog, Reading and Writing are Fattening, sometimes deals with food and dieting issues. Recently, I’ve been doing reviews of the suspense books that I read.

I once did a blog series called The Ten Pounds of Christmas and every year I resolve to publish it, a how-to on not gaining weight over the holidays, but somehow, never quite get around do doing it. Maybe I’ll have Lisa write it for me when she’s in between crime-fighting events with TJ. ;)

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

Marla Madison is a retired mediator and when she’s not writing, she loves to read, play bridge and cruise the lake on her pontoon. Living in Wisconsin on Prairie Lake, Marla is the author of the suspense novels, She’s Not There, Trespass, Girl Undone, Relative Malice, Iced Malice, and Promise of Malice. 
Contact her at:

You can also find Marla here:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Gifts - Books, Of Course!

Happy Holidays, Hungry Readers!

Instead of giving you the same-old best-seller list of gift suggestions, I thought I'd make this year's post a little more personal and share which books my family will be giving/receiving. Maybe you'll find one of them to be a good gift for someone you know as well. :)

The Guinness World Records 2017 edition is for the boy child, but it always turns into a full-family gift as he reads aloud every. single. record. Mostly interesting for all, but beware this is not for the faint of heart; many of the bug and FOOD records can be quite disgusting!

The American Girl Guide is for the girl child because, like any fictional character, even the dolls have extensive back-stories. More history = deeper understanding = more imaginative and intelligent play!

Harry Potter #4 is for my husband, the most-behindest reader of all time. ;) We have a family rule that we can't watch a film until we've read the book and he REALLY wants to catch up to the rest of us with the movies, so now he can use the vacation week to crack this spine!

As for me, I have asked for - and hopefully not delusionally expect to recieve - The Bible as read by James Earl Jones. This tome of all tomes has been on my TBR list since really the beginning of days but its sheer size has kept it anchoring the bottom of the pile. But then, Totes Magotes!, I find a version that will be read to me by the greatest narrator* of all time?! It's the only item on my Santa list and I have been VERY good this year...

Be sure and let me know the best reads you give and receive this holiday season; 

Happy Holidays to All and to All a Good Read!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Kathy LaMee, Author of Tansy Taylor Paranormal P.I.

I’m a total food junkie, or foodie, so there is always food in my books. We use food as a culture in so many ways, so it’s only natural to draw that into stories. I’ll be honest - it’s been a few years since I wrote the first Tansy - so I was struggling to remember all of the foodie bits in the book. So what does one do when they can’t remember? They open their Kindle Cloud Reader and use the trusty Cntrl+F to find the food! Wow, was there a lot of food!

First, a little insight into Tansy’s story. She’s a twenty-something soul who is sort of lost, wandering from bad love interest to bad love interest and working at a psychic hotline call center. She really has an ethical problem with her job and the way she is expected to lead customers on, so when she gets fired for being too helpful to a caller, she isn’t surprised. She ends up meeting the caller, Callie, and begins the quest to help figure out what has happened to Callie’s missing boyfriend Buster, a shady car dealer’s wash bay guy. She ends up discovering a lot about her newly discovered talent - that she not only can do some aura reading but can actually see and talk with the recently departed as she unravels the facts behind Buster’s disappearance.

Tansy has food around her ALL the time. Her roommate and best friend is a designer, who also happens to work magic with pastries and other treats in the kitchen. Often, the sweet sultry smell of baked goods and freshly made coffee entices Tansy to get on with her day, no matter the trouble she’s gotten into the night before!  Her love of baked goods doesn’t stop there though - she digs into scones and muffins several times in Dixie’s Diner, where her client Callie works as a waitress. Speaking of diner food, nothing makes Tansy or me happier than walking into a diner. My stomach rumbles when I hear the jingle of the little bell on the door (they all have them, right??) and it induces a Pavlovian response that makes my mouth wonder at the treats in store. I discovered in my early thirties that I absolutely love Reuben sandwiches; I mean, who would think that corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a thick slather of Thousand Island dressing on rye would be so unbelievably tasty? On their own I actually do not like any of these foods, but put them together and crazy magic happens. I counted six times in Tansy’s first story that the Reuben is either mentioned or consumed, usually with a bag of locally made potato chips. Perfection on a plate!

As Tansy works her case to discover what has happened to Buster and grapples with the fact that she can talk to dead people, she converses and muses often, all while enjoying something tasty at the diner, her kitchen, or a picnic in the park. I think that food is a natural binder- it’s there when we have conversations over dinner, or meet up for drinks. Food can also be a way to show someone affection - I mean, who doesn’t love to have someone special bring them a tasty treat or a cup of their favorite coffee drink? What we eat or the type of drink we order says a lot about a person, in my opinion, and I find it a great way to bring characters to life in the stories we tell.

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

You can find Kathy here:

Friday, December 9, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Tony Macaulay, Author of All Growed Up

In my memoir All Growed Up, it’s 1982 and I leave my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland for the first time in my life to begin a ‘coming of age’ adventure of learning as an eighteen year old student at university. One particular chapter of the book serves up the flavours of traditional Irish food. In Go Wild in the Country I tell the story of my first visit to my new girlfriend’s house in a small rural village in the middle of Northern Ireland. I meet the lovely Lesley’s mother who is very warm, friendly and hospitable and more importantly, a legend in her own kitchen. However, like every good Irish Mammy when it comes to offering the best of food to a guest, she cannot take no for an answer. The repercussions are most embarrassing!

There are two main Irish foodstuffs involved in this unfortunate incident, one sweet and one savoury. The sweets are the typical fare baked in every self-respecting kitchen in Northern Ireland and produced alongside a nice cup of tea on all occasions. A ‘pavlova’ is an egg and sugar based dish, a monumental meringue smothered in fresh cream. Meanwhile ‘caramel squares’ are biscuit based square shaped cookies with a delightful layer of caramel and chocolate on top. Here’s what happened when I entered my girlfriend’s mother’s kitchen:

She placed one of her Himalayan pavlovas in the middle of the table and my mouth watered instantly. Then she surrounded the pavlova with a series of smaller plates containing geometrically perfect caramel squares, freshly baked fruit scones with butter and jam and a plate of chocolate biscuits from a good tin…

The supply of food continued all day long:

‘Have another piece of pavlova,’ said Mummy
‘No, thank you, I think I’m full up now,’ I replied.
‘Och sure go on, you would, you could, you should’ said Mummy.
‘Okay, thanks, you’ve persuaded me, please,’ I responded with the utmost courtesy.
‘Now, have another scone, Tony,’ said Mummy.
‘Oh no, thank you, really I couldn’t, I’m full up now. It’s all so lovely, thank you.’ 
‘Och, none of that, you will, you can, you should, sure you’re a growing boy,’ said Mummy, clearly not expecting ‘No’ for an answer. 
All of this food was delicious and I enjoyed being spoilt in this way, but I wondered if I would be permitted to stop eating before all the plates were empty.

The savoury dish that features in this chapter of my book is the iconic Northern Ireland breakfast, known locally as an Ulster Fry. As the name suggests this is a hot fried breakfast, not known for its health benefits. In fact an Ulster Fry is also known locally as ‘a heart attack on a plate.’ The dish consists of fried eggs, sausages, bacon, black pudding and mushrooms. An essential element of the Ulster Fry is the addition of two distinctive Irish breads, soda and potato farls, fried of course. This large breakfast plate is usually completed with a dollop of tomato ketchup or HP Brown Sauce. Normally, it’s a very satisfying breakfast on the weekend, but on this occasion it was simply too much to handle!

I sat down amid the activity and cooking and frying smells but all of a sudden I began to feel sick. I was surrounded by the makings of the perfect Ulster Fry, a massive feast of meat and enough fried bread to empty a shelf in the Ormo Mini Shop but probably due to my over indulgences the day before a wave of nausea began to overwhelm me.
‘I feel a bit sick,’ I whispered to Lesley, who looked most concerned.
‘You have to eat Mummy’s fry, she’s been preparing for it all week,’ she whispered back, our conversation masked only by the sudden sizzling of mushrooms being added to the frying pan. 
I attempted to take deep breaths to subdue the nausea but every deep inhalation was accompanied by the odour of fried meat and mushrooms and by this stage of my condition the smell was sickening rather than appetising. Lesley observed me closely, clearly aware of the potential disaster unfolding in her own kitchen. She could see that my face had turned a whiter shade of pale and realised that an intervention was going to be necessary.
‘Tony’s not feeling well,’ said Lesley, much to my relief.
Mummy looked over her bifocals with a mixture of shock and disappointment, as the frying fat spat at me from beneath the eggs.
‘Och, sure you’re alright now. You just need a good fry and you’ll be fine.’
‘Sorry, I think I need to lie down,’ I confessed, ‘and then I’ll be okay thanks for a fry, please, if that‘s ok.’
Mummy, Daddy and Lesley cast glances at each other from various workstations across the kitchen. I was embarrassed. To fart explosively at the kitchen table would not have been worse. Mummy looked hurt, as if her cooking was making me sick and Lesley looked concerned about Mummy and Daddy went outside for a smoke.
‘Sure, you would, you could, you should just try a wee plate,’ persisted Mummy and she proceeded to set down a plate of sausage, bacon and egg in front of me.

Of course, you have to read the book to find out what happened next, but I’ll give you a clue – everything went in the wrong direction!

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

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