Thursday, April 15, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Nicki Chen, Author of When in Vanuatu



No matter where you travel, you’re bound to return with memories of what you ate. Some of those memories will stay with you for years and years. You’ll tell friends about the pizza in Naples or the Spotted Dick in Canterbury or the generous bowl of lime wedges that came with your rum-and-Cokes in Puerto Vallarta. 

I used to smile at the obsession my late husband and his colleagues seemed to have with food. While we were living in Asia, we attended many wine dinners—festive meals served around large round tables with a Lazy Susan in the middle. While we ate, the conversation would touch on politics and shop talk. But the main topic was always food. As each of the eight or ten courses was set on the table, it would be quickly praised. Then, my husband’s colleagues, who all did a lot of business travel, would start discussing the best place to eat crab in Bangkok or grilled freshwater eel in Seoul or night street food in Kuala Lumpur.

My new novel, When in Vanuatu, is about living in a foreign land and marriage and infertility. It begins in Manila, moves to Vanuatu, and ends up in Seattle. It is not about food. And yet, food is everywhere in it.

In the opening pages, Diana and her husband take a brisk morning walk along Manila Bay. Before turning back, they stop at McDonald’s, where, over eggs and pancakes, Jays breaks the news about his upcoming trip to Korea. “I’ll be leaving Thursday morning,” he says, sliding a pat of butter between his pancakes and slapping another on top. Diana stabs her egg and watches the sticky golden yolk bleed into the white and then down the sides of her pancakes and onto the plastic plate. Didn’t he remember that Thursday was supposed to be the start of her fertile period?

McDonald’s? you say. The food starts at McDonald’s?

But wait.

A few days later, Diana is pulling up at Dulcinea, a Spanish bakery where she is meeting friends for midafternoon churros y chocolate. As she opens the heavy glass door, leaving behind the stink of diesel, sweat and roadside garbage, she steps into a room smelling of toasted sugar, melted butter and coffee. The ladies, talk and laugh, they share their concerns and make plans for Christmas. All the while, they’re sprinkling sugar on their freshly deep-fried churros, dipping them in little cups of thick Spanish chocolate, and licking their lips.

With the novel set in the Philippines, it’s inevitable that Filipino dishes would make an appearance: pancit, pork adobo, ginataang, and Jollybee’s Amazing Aloha Burger for a start. Like most of the world’s cities, though, Manila and Port Vila offer an international selection of restaurants.

When Diana and Jay lose electricity in their apartment, they eat tempura and steak teppanyaki at the Westin Plaza. At Jay’s Executive Dining Room, they opt for the daily special: tom yum soup, crystal noodles with prawns, Thai basil with chicken, and mango ice cream. When they take a visiting colleague and his girlfriend out to a Spanish restaurant, Jay and Diana order sangria and paella Valenciana. At the girlfriend’s insistence, she and her date share black paella, a tasty dish made black by the squid’s ink.

In Vanuatu, fish and fresh fruit are readily available. Diana and Jay dine out on seafood and pastries, French and Chinese food. Though McDonald’s hasn’t made it to Vanuatu yet, Cheerios has. Looking out over a blue lagoon on her first morning in Vanuatu, Diana eats Cheerios on the hotel’s patio. It’s a touch of normality for her amidst the exotic landscape and her still unknown future.

I can’t imagine inventing characters who don’t cook and eat and talk about their food.


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


You can find Nicki here:




Friday, April 9, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Susanne Gervay, Author of Heroes of the Secret Underground



Food is a delicious way to draw readers into the nurture, love and hospitality of relationships, culture and tradition in Heroes of the Secret Underground.

Even without context, the paragraph extracted from the Heroes of the Secret Underground reveals how the abundance of food equates to love and protection. This is the early part of the book:


There’s too much food like always. Cabbage and dumplings. Cabbage in sweet and sour vinegar. Cabbage and mince-meat pancakes. Hungarians love their cabbage. Poppy-seed rolls, sour cherries in sweet juice, melt-in-your-mouth angel wing biscuits, strudel with the flakiest pastry, and Louie’s favourite, kuglof, which looks like a rocky mountain with drippy chocolate, twirled between twists of dry-sweet vanilla cake.


Revelations of food entice readers to join the family table in the summer of the International Year of Peace, Sydney, 2000.

The main characters, Louie and her brothers live in the Majestic Hotel run by their Hungarian grandparents where food and hospitality are in abundance. However there are dark secrets hidden from them by their grandparents. Louie and her brothers climb higher and higher to the top of the Majestic Hotel in search of answers. It is there, that they time slip into the winter of the Nazi occupation in Budapest, 1944, where they meet their grandparents as children. Together in a thrilling race for survival, they uncover the secrets of the past to bring justice to the present and future.

In the winter of 1944, Budapest, starvation haunts the city. Thousands of people hide from capture by the Nazis and the fascist Arrow Cross in The Glass House. Food takes on a powerful new meaning here:  


Louie’s quiet as they enter the inner courtyard.  Girls are chattering, ladling out cabbage soup without any meat. Endless queues wait for them. Girls are washing dishes and boys are preparing more food. Hundreds of people pile into the brick and glass courtyard. There are hundreds more waiting inside for their turn at the thin cabbage soup. Bert’s stomach rumbles. He remembers the salami. He’s hungry and reaches into his pocket, then he sees a boy and girl waiting for cabbage soup. Their eyes are hollow and faces so thin. Bert looks at the salami for  a long time. Then he gives it to them.

‘I love you, Bert,’ Louie whispers. ‘You lighten the burdens of others.’

He pulls a face. ‘Right, Louie. It’s just salami.’


Food tranforms into courage as Bert is faced with the choice. Keep the salami for his family or give to another. When he sees the desperate children lining up for thin cabbage soup in The Glass House, he gives the precious salami to a starving girl and boy. Food has made Bert a hero to me.

By the end of the novel, the secrets of the past are unlocked. Louie and her brothers return to The Majestic. Order is reimposed, but there is change as the young people have fought evil to become heroes of justice. The community is invited to join the family with a feast of food:  


Rugs and umbrellas are dotted over the grass. Grandma, with the help of the chef and housekeeper, has prepared a table overflowing with cabbage rolls, bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, dill pickles, chocolate walnut pancakes, poppy seed cake, strudel,  and kuglof, that looks like a rocky mountain with drippy chocolate, twirled between twists of dry-sweet vanilla cake. Everything’s ready.


Enjoy the Hungarian food and how food integrates with the great journey of life.


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



You can find Susanne here:

SGervay.com

Twitter @SGervay

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon



Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee, you'll find Susanne in Istanbul speaking to 1000s of kids about NO bullying; advocating for the United Nations Vision2020 in a campaign for sight, recording The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses for Vision Australia; in remote indigenous schools bringing literacy to kids from pre-schoolers to young adults. Susanne Gervay’s loved books include her anti-bullying I Am Jack books; YA books Butterflies (disability), Shadows of Olive Trees (feminism); picture books Elephants Have Wings (Harmony Day), The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses (Vision2020) and Heroes of the Secret Underground empowering kids to become warriors of change.


Thursday, April 1, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Andrew Geyer, Author of Siren Songs from the Heart of Austin


The twenty-two first person narratives in Siren Songs from the Heart of Austin connect through common settings, recurring characters, continuing themes, shared imagery, and intertwined plots.  Aqua Vitae Café, in turn-of-the-millennium Austin, Texas, is the central connection for this short-story cycle; but the settings range from Austin to New Mexico to Guatemala and Honduras.  

One of the main elements that links the characters who inhabit the cycle is food.  All of the characters either work at, or patronize, the Aqua Vitae Café, for which the real-life model was Magnolia Café on South Congress (all the way down to the purple pterodactyl suspended from the main dining room ceiling).  I waited tables at Magnolia Café in the late 1990s, and I absolutely fell in love with their menu.  My personal favorites were the gingerbread blueberry pancakes and the fish tacos.  They also serve a delicious special coffee blend that you can only get on the premises.  Lots of customers come in and buy the beans in bulk to brew at home.  Harry the Hippy is one of those fictional folks in the book.  Interestingly, Harry (who lives down in the funky heart of South Austin not far from the Aqua Vitae Café) is also quite the cook himself.  Two of his best dishes are bean and potato tacos with homegrown garlic and onions and fiery red chilipitins stir-fried in, and tacos de sesos (a specialty of Colima province in Mexico).  In many ways, the element of food interconnects with the struggle of all the characters to find and share love.

Magical realism also adds its rainbow colors to the recipe in Siren Songs.  In the six main narrative threads, a young Latina hunts her mother’s killer while her grandfather tries to win the love of the murderer’s grandmother in a case of love at first sight delayed for decades.  A young mother named Annie deals with autism, and the difficulties of the food and beverage business, and finds love along the way.  Dr. Joseph Jasmine, a down-on-his-luck young professor, moonlights as a waiter and tries to hold his marriage together.  All of the stories in the collection follow the lives of people who achieve, amid their daily struggles, the miracles of ordinary love—yes, through the struggles, always the little offices of love—while the Prophet Mudcat sings his siren songs, trying to usher in the Age of Aquarius by returning humankind to the water…


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



You can find Andrew here:

AndrewGeyer.org

Books on Amazon


Friday, March 26, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Hazel Edwards, Author of Hijabi Girl

What is fusion food?

We made it up. The term, NOT the food from different cultures.

Ever tried Gozleme Vietnamese style? 

Behind Melek were trays of syrupy baklava layered watermelon seeds instead of walnuts. It was SO HARD for Melek NOT to lick the sugar off the saran wraps covering the dessert trays. She didn’t.  The ladies from Melek’s mosque had rolled out dough to turn gozleme into a Vietnamesey sort of dessert.  Gozleme was one of her favourites. 

In Hijabi Girl,  our 10 year old Melek character  is a feisty girl in a hijab who wants to start an Australian Rules girls’ football team. She sets up a fundraiser where they sell ‘fusion’ food from many of the cultures of the children in their mainstream school. With the money raised they can buy their uniforms and start their sports club. But it’s really about sharing. Tien is her new Vietnamese friend whose Dad is a chef whose business is struggling, but helps his daughter’s friends. So does Melek’s hijabi-fashionista mother who designs sports clothes. 

Tasting ‘fusion’ food is genuine book research for writers. And fun. But proof- reading the names of food in our Hijabi Girl in a different language can be a challenge. And now we even have puppets which are a Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll and a Turkish Kebab! Australian Larrikin Puppeteers are performing Hijabi Girl the musical and touring post-Pandemic.



So glad we made up ‘fusion food’ to share cultures. Fact is following fiction.

Now real schools are combining the food of different cultures on celebratory days. And students are dressing up as Hijabi Girl and her friends for Book Parades.  This is an extract combining Turkish and Vietnamese cuisine. 

For the fund-raiser, Tien’s Dad, helps with a fusion menu of Vietnamese and Turkish food. It’s a sell-out.  Pays for footy uniforms for all:

'I have the price lists,' Lily said. 'My Dad and I printed them out last night.' She tried to place the correct prices on the trays. 'Soo which one is the Gozleme with peanuts? The rice pudding with muuun ga beans?’  Lily tried to pronounce "mung beans".

‘It’s hard to price things you can’t say.’

'I'll show you, ' Melek helped Lily match names and prices on the desserts.’These are my favourites. This round one is a moon cake, filled with Turkish pistachios. The ones in the clear cups are sutlac, it’s like a milk rice pudding but Tien’s dad made it with bananas and tapioca pearls. And this one, che, is in the bowls. It looks like a soup, but it tastes just like Baklava!’ 


Co-writing across cultures means being introduced to tasty food, even if difficult to pronounce the names. Food matters in children’s books. As the Australian author of the picture book There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake (Puffin PRH),  I’ve shared lots of cake in hippo shapes across  40 years of  launches, book weeks, the film and the stage musical.




But our co-written Hijabi Girl junior novel had many knockbacks before publication due to media coverage of political incidents related to terrorism. Many of my books explore ‘coping successfully with being different’, but having ‘hijab’ in the title was challenging. My Australian co-author Ozge Alkan is a Muslim librarian who wears a hijab, is of Turkish origin, and was educated in USA, so she has an American accent. Ozge has helped on cultural issues. So has Serena Geddes, our illustrator of Sri-lankan heritage.



Australia is a very multi cultural society and when our book was launched at Craigieburn Library, an outer suburb of Melbourne, we had 62 nationalities and languages present.  Of our other characters Tien is Vietnamese, Zac is soccer mad , Lily loves fashion and for the series. AliGator is publishing and the Larrikin Puppets are performing, we’ve added Abdul, an Afro-Australian boy. A culinary and cultural mix. Ozge has been our cultural adviser on clothing length, hijabi folding and food.



In children’s books, food plays on the senses and provides a theme for book launches. A book offers the opportunity to live in another’s world for the length of the book and beyond via ‘fusion’ food and fusion cultures.




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


Touring post-Pandemic, Hijabi Girl features 14 colourful hand puppets and creative rod puppets hand-crafted by seven different puppet builders from across Australia, Indonesia and the USA. The show includes bizarre and delightful pencil, football,shark  and FOOD puppets. Puppeteers - Brett Hansen and Elissa Jenkins –were trained in the USA by Jim Henson puppeteers from The Muppets and Sesame Street.

You can find more about the book, play, authors and more here:

Hijabi Girl Book Page of latest news, reviews, photos, clips and resources for Hijabi Girl. Also has Teacher Resources which educators appreciate. https://hazeledwards.com/files//Hijabi_Girl_/Teachers_Resources_Hijabi_Girl.pdf

Larrikin Puppeteers  

Ali Gator Productions     info@ali-gator.com

Illustrator Serena Geddes New Website   

Larrikin Puppeteers’ successful submission to Artour for 2021/2 Qld touring.  Details of Hijabi Girl content and process. Vital case study of persistence.


About the Author:

Hazel is interested in stories crossing mediums. Celebrant Sleuth: I do or die, an adult mystery with an asexual sleuth is her latest AUDIBLE fiction, plus  KINDLE sequel Wed Then Dead on The Ghan being adapted as a screenplay with co-writer/producer Geoffrey Wright.

Co-written Hijabi Girl series  soon to tour as ‘Larrikin Puppets’ musical  explores cultural diversity. There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake series, turned 40 in 2020. 
Her memoir Not Just a Piece of Cake-Being an Author explores longterm creativity. Hazel is the current patron of the Society of Women’s Writers (Victoria).




Friday, March 12, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome H. Gibson, Author of The Chronicles of Han




As an author, I love food and give this love through in my books to the extent that readers blame me for 'putting on a few pounds' and'wanting coffee all the time'. I am glad that this is the feedback I receive.It means that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing as a writer. I allow the reader to experience the books.
 

"I have not taken food for a while. It would be a shock to my system," I replied, not wanting my mother to feel offended by my changing preference in food I used to enjoy.

"Do you no longer like the taste?" she enquired,revealing that she was well aware of what she was doing to me. It was her way of ascertaining what was wrong and different with me.

"If I could taste, I would probably enjoy the food," I confessed.

"Since when do you no longer taste?" she wanted to know, taking a second helping of bacon for herself, biting into the crunchy morsel with so much relish that I wanted to scream.

"Since becoming Navigator," I whispered."


Han Storm's comment on the above and his adventure with food in the Universe of Kraita: "When you become a Navigator you mostly need energetic energy, delivered by heavy metals such as gold, silver, copper and nickel alloy.

I still had a body. I still needed food. I had to stay human too in order to serve my Planet and her people.

My doctor had worked out a regimen of protein drinks, vitamin supplemented porridges, and intravenous feeds when they put me out to rest. I was a constant challenge for him; an interesting subject; a tool to be maintained, studied and kept in top condition.

Working in space was not for the faint of heart.

I missed planetary (three-dimensional) things. It became lonely without my family.

Above all, I missed to be able to just sit down and eat a proper meal. Something of everything I truly love.

Emotions are connected with food.

Memories are triggered by the thought, aroma or taste of a certain food item.

For me the adventure with food was an ongoing pleasure and experience.

Berries and wood smoke would elicit memories of Mara, Moira'smother, my first love. I only shared a week with Mara, highlighted with brilliant meals, from grilled fish, to a fowl baked to crispy heaven accompanied by baby sweet potatoes and other vegetables.

Chocolate and bacon always reminded me of father Tucker, my first partner in the Security Forces in my home town, on my beloved Creata.
 
Hei, my adopted father on Encha, loved to bake. His dried-out wheaten rusks, dunked into freshly brewed coffee until they were soggy to be eaten quickly was always a life-saver when I did not wish to eat but knew I had to.

Thick, juicy steaks, dripping with fat, charred to well done on the outside while pinkish in the middle was by far my favourite dish (next to anything with bacon of course).

Bacon could be served with every meal, in whatever form, I did not care if it was made from genetically engineered Sluggs and not pigs. It still tasted the same.

Sweet potatoes, squashes and pumpkins came after bacon and steak.I preferred the traditional Gaoucomian cooking of grilled sweet potatoes,sweetened with honey, cooked inside the tough skins. Such a meal will be served with whole green beans in garlic sauce, baby potatoes fried in bacon lard,grilled pumpkin flecked and filled with nuts and raisins, fresh fruits cut into finger portions, and green salads with spicy flowers.

My mother's sweet potato pie with whipped cream, sweetened with dark Gaoucomian wild honey was always a home treat. Basically any form of pumpkin in any form of pie made a great pudding.

For breakfast Hulo's farro made to a thick consistency from white maize, smothered under cream and sunny-side-up free-range eggs was a special treat.

Every meal should always be rounded off with coffee. No matter where we traveled, this beverage was still the preferred drink and thankfully was available in some or other form on almost all planets.

Good memories are made around meals.

Sad and hated memories too.

Certain foods, even though highly nutritious, I just could not stand. Enriched porridge and salty rye bread made me burst out into sweat at the memory of my imprisonment by the Enchan Cannibals. My people knew to keep these specific dishes far away from me.

I avoided taking any foods that reminded me of 'last meals' such as date pudding with sweet cream. It was the last serving of food Jade and I had shared before she died."

Conclusion from the author: Neither food nor eating should be taken for granted. There are many out there starving, unable to eat for whatever reason, be it poverty, drought, disease, illness or occupational hazard.

When you are blessed with food, use it wisely, be thankful, enjoy what you have, even if it is little, and please build good memories around meals.
 
Author, H Gibson, The Chronicles of Han Book Series


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




You can find H. Gibson here:





Thursday, March 4, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Kathryn Gauci, Author of Conspiracy of Lies




When writing Conspiracy of Lies, set in WWII France, food and wine played an important part in the story. I wanted to portray the difference between the glittering dinner parties of the German elite and the French people who were barely able to sustain themselves because of rationing and food being taken from France to Germany. My protagonist, Claire Bouchard, gets a taste for champagne when she is sent as journalist visit the champagne houses in the Champagne villages during the Phoney War prior to the German invasion of France. The great wine and champagne houses of France were a barometer of impending war much as they had been during WWI, and earlier wars, as the connections between French and German wine houses were very strong. On closer inspection, Claire notes that some of them are starting to hide their finest wines behind walled-up cellars. When she meets the man who will eventually become her lover, she learns even more about fine wine.

Although parts of the story are set in England and Paris, much of the story takes place in Brittany where Claire is sent to work as a secret agent for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and liaise with the Resistance. During her time there, she dines with the German Commandant who will become her lover and dines on everything from roast goose to venison with a rich red-wine sauce accompanied by an assortment of seasonal vegetables. She also has real coffee when her friends in the Resistance have nothing but foul-tasting ersatz coffee. Occasionally, she sneaks them out a piece of apple strudel or a ham. Even the breakfast table is a veritable feast: an array of cold cuts of meats, eggs, cheese, bread, and pastries. There is also an incident when the young son is out with his mother in Rennes and has an ice-cream. As everyone knows who the important German woman is with her son, it is served up without her paying for it, and the son leaves it, letting it melt in the warm son. Claire cringes when she knows such ice-cream is not available to most French at that time.

Even after the war, Claire still enjoys her fine wines, and her children cannot understand how she is such a connoisseur until her story as a secret agent unfolds. During several scenes after the war when her daughter, Sarah, tries to ask about her mother’s past, I bring in English afternoon teas, and contrast her mother’s Devil’s food-cake with a chocolate butter icing with that of her French friend’s afternoon teas in London. There, her maid creates wonderful French pastries, visitandes, macarons and madeleines.


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




You can find Kathryn here:





Thursday, February 25, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Susanne Gervay, Author of Shadows of Olive Trees



Food can be sensual and evocative in a world where cooking defines a women’s role. In Shadows of Olive Trees, the second rise of feminism battles against defined traditions of sexual roles and gender equity. Tessa, the good daughter of Greek immigrants is torn between the restrictions of traditions of the past and the dangerous freedoms of independence.

The Greek food is comforting, delicious, voluptuous, overflowing, all encompassing, blocking Tessa’s pathway to self determination. The cooking and feasting is part of daily life:


The priest honours her parents with a visit to the house. Mrs Kassis and Tessa lay out the dolmades, taramasalata and spinach squares on the coffee table in the sitting room. The priest is punctual. His long black flowing gown and dark beard are familiar and Mr Kassis welcomes him into his house.

The priest is a stern man, unwilling to compromise on the stringent morals of his Church. Around him, Tessa is nervous, and she hopes he doesn't sense her other life, hidden behind her serving. The priest compliments Mrs Kassis on her dolmades, making her smile. Mr Kassis and the priest talk politics and social order while Peter listens respectfully, speaking only when a question is directed at him.

The women clear the table and bring the cakes they have spent days preparing. Tessa licks honey from her fingers as she carries sweet baklava laden with honey and nuts to the table. Almond pastries, Greek sweets, kataifi lie on the table like wanton women ready to be taken. Tessa smiles as the priest and her father being wrapped around the pastries.

The priest leaves, content. Mr Kassis goes to his room, because he is tired from the long hours in his factory. Peter sees that his mother is tired too, and takes some plates to the kitchen to help her. Mrs Kassis kisses her son. Tessa and her mother continue cooking and baking for the events that mark the visiting and feasting of Christmas.


***


Tessa and her family visit John Pappas and his parents. John Pappas has been approved asTessa’s potential husband. As the visit continues, the food and drink reflect the two worlds:


After the greetings and the ritual compliments on each other's appearance and the house, the men go to the lounge room. Mr Pappas opens the bottle of ouzo and pours a glass for Peter and Mr Kassis, then himself and John Pappas. 'Strong.' Mr Pappas approves and smiles. Tessa and Mrs Kassis are already in the kitchen helping Mrs Pappas with the meal ... 

The table is laid with silver service. The centre-piece is a painted glass bowl overflowing with out- of-season peaches, plums, cantaloupe and strawberries. The meal is generous, overflowing like the fruits in the bowl. Moussaka is layered heavily with black eggplant and the leanest cut of topside mince. Salads of red tomatoes from the garden and black olives and white feta spill over the edges of bowls. The bread is fresh, bought from the bakery because the parents only eat freshly baked bread, like it was at their Greek village.


Food is so seductive. We want to make the honey baklava with its flaky thin pastry, nuts, dripping with honey. We can feel the love Tessa has for her family and traditions, like the pleasures of eating baklava. However, the honey sticks and Tessa has to make the decision to be all she can be.


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



You can find Susanne here:

SGervay.com

Twitter @SGervay

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon




Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee, you'll find Susanne in Istanbul speaking to 1000s of kids about NO bullying; advocating for the United Nations Vision2020 in a campaign for sight, recording The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses for Vision Australia; in remote indigenous schools bringing literacy to kids from pre-schoolers to young adults. Susanne Gervay’s loved books include her anti-bullying I Am Jack books; YA books Butterflies (disability), Shadows of Olive Trees (feminism); picture books Elephants Have Wings (Harmony Day), The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses (Vision2020) and Heroes of the Secret Underground empowering kids to become warriors of change.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Christian W. Freed, Author of Dreams of Winter


Day 73.

Feels like we’ve been on this planet forever. Campaigns stretch on. Friends fall with each battle, but we endure. What other choice do we have? Command says this planet has to stand or we risk losing half the galaxy. We’ve been at the sharp end of the stick since the civil war began. No one rightly knows how or why. All we’ve been told is the Inquisitor General staged a coup, had the Cardinal Seniorus killed, and General Strannan is in exile.

None of that matters to us grunts. The men and women we’re busy fighting were our friends just a few short months ago. Seven hundred occupied planets and we’re busy tearing each other apart. I guess the universe just isn’t big enough for dueling egos. At least they feed us. Granted, it’s army food and not very appetizing, but there’s no better feeling than going to sleep on a full belly. 

Each Guardsman is given three days' worth of rations. Mostly dehydrated meats and fruits or highly processed foods designed to last to the end of time. Be careful with some of it, you might just crack a tooth. But if it gets you off the front lines who can argue?

Rumor has it one of the Three is fueling the rage here. None of us wants to meet him. The old gods destroyed themselves long ago. The thought of facing one on this campaign is enough to make you empty your stomach. Huh, won’t the cooks be angry about that! Speaking of which, I can smell fresh food being cooked across the bivouac site. Looks like hot chow tonight. I figure it’s the least they can do for us. We have 27,000 Guard on planet and are facing a force twice our size. Unless help comes soon it won’t really matter what’s for dinner. 


Dreams of Winter was born on a random idea one winter afternoon while I was stationed at West Point in 2009. A few weeks later the first few chapters sprung to life in my room at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia. Now five volumes long, the Forgotten Gods Tales is my most ambitious project. It follows a handful of reluctant heroes as they uncover a plot to overthrow a ruling body that has been in place for three thousand years. Filled with magic, space pirates (because, of course), an Inquisition, and a handful of the old gods, Dreams of Winter is mostly about ordinary men and women just trying to survive. Partly derived from my own military experience and time downrange in Iraq, Korea, and Afghanistan, this series is a reflection of the people who fight and their reasons for doing so. 


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



You can find Christian here:

ChristianWFreed.com

Twitter @ChristianWFreed

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon


Friday, January 22, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Daniel Cotton, Author of Life Among the Dead



Food is one of the three keys to survival, but what happens when you yourself are put on the menu? In my zombie apocalypse series, Life Among the Dead, we meet an array of characters and see different ways to survive, from scavenging to homesteading. Whether they are heroes or villains they all share one trait, they need to eat. Food is not just sustenance to keep us going, it can also give us comfort, it can bring us together, it makes us feel human.

One of my favorite characters is Uncle Bruce. He uses a story about food to explain his theory of how the dead are rising. On a whim, before the apocalypse, he decided to use his vast resources to make himself a burger entirely from scratch, no preservatives. Everything he needed grew on his farm; lettuce, tomato, onions, and cucumbers that he pickled himself. He had cows for beef and even a pig for bacon. Bruce went so far as to make the cheese and buns himself. He was ready, the grill was fired up, but then he realized before starting that he had failed. Condiments. He could make mayonnaise, but didn’t know how to make ketchup or mustard. Preservatives are everywhere he concluded. Now, at the end of the world he contemplates if the stuff that keeps food food could be causing the new horror they face.

Through this four book saga of intertwining tales I sprinkled my own culinary tricks, how to grill perfect ribs, and how to make a virgin tiramisu simply by putting in maple syrup and leaving out the rum. The latter is revealed by another of my favorite characters, the underdog leader of the town of Rubicon, Simon Brass. Simon was a grocer in the world before and still employs his old trade in his new way of life. He makes displays in his store to move the hard to ‘sell’ items. He rations things in limited supply to prolong the inventory. Cake mixes and frostings are two things his fellow survivors snatch up quickly to commemorate dead loved ones, birthday cakes with no candles. 

Not all the meals in the series are appetizing, unless you’re a zombie. Sink your teeth into this survival horror epic.


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



You can find Daniel here:

DanielCotton.weebly.com

Twitter @DanielCCotton

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon


Friday, January 15, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jayne Denker, Author of Down on Love



Thom started to pace, which wasn’t a very effective aggressive move—not in Georgiana’s tiny, shadowed apartment. For really good, forceful pacing, you needed more than four feet of free space. She didn’t have that—not by a long shot.

“Why can’t you think of someone other than yourself for once!” he exclaimed.

George bit the inside of her bottom lip to keep from guffawing in his face. Thom Tyler lecturing her about selfishness, when he’d written the book on it? Really? Instead of sniping at him, she took out her aggressions on a freshly peeled apple. Which looked a lot like his head, actually. Smiling now, she centered the circular apple slicer and gave a mighty shove downward. The sharpened metal blades thoomped neatly through the Twenty Ounce, and she thought she should feel a little guilty for imagining doing the same thing to Thom’s head, like in an old cartoon, from back when animated violence wasn’t frowned upon. She gave up on the guilt and relished the gory vision for a few seconds, then made her amends by picturing his sectioned head coming back together neatly and bloodlessly.


Georgiana Down, the main character in Down on Love, the first book in my small-town romcom series Welcome to Marsden, has a lot of stress in her life. She was downsized out of her job as a graphic artist, broke up with her emotionally abusive boyfriend, and now lives in a drab apartment with a weird roommate. Meanwhile, her sister is haranguing her to return to their tiny hometown in the Catskill Mountains in central New York State—a place she hasn’t visited, let alone lived in, in fifteen years. She has two activities in her life that relieves her stress: her successful anti-romance advice blog (Down on Love) and baking pies.

When I started writing Down on Love, there was nothing in my notes about George baking pies. (And I take a lot of notes before I start writing.) I don’t know how it came about that George’s “thing” is baking, and only pies, but I definitely drew on my personal experience. I learned how to make pies back when we rode dinosaurs to school, in what was then known as home ec class. Did you ever have one of those teachers, one you just knew would teach you something (or many things) you would carry with you the rest of your life? Sister Dismas was one of those teachers. She was a Sister of Mercy who also was the best geometry teacher since Euclid, had been a missionary in Africa and always had great stories about hanging out with cannibal tribes, and had the best from-scratch apple pie recipe. I mastered it at 16 and have been using the same recipe ever since. When I realized Georgiana needed a stress-relieving hobby, having her bake pies—using that same recipe—was the perfect fit.

After all, pies are comfort food, something George craves. I recently held a pie-themed giveaway, and one of the prizes was a plaque that said “All I’m saying is you rarely see someone crying and eating pie at the same time.” Now, that’s some top-level philosophizing right there. And true! Pies are associated with home, comfort, family gatherings, home-cooked meals, and definitely that funky diner in town—you know the one, with laminated menus and vinyl booths and the dessert carousel at the end of the counter filled with pies and pudding, rotating endlessly, tempting you to indulge even though you just polished off a cheeseburger the size of a small planet.

I don’t think it’s giving away much to say that George’s pies play a role in some key scenes in Down on Love, as well as in Picture This and Lucky for You, the second and third books in the Welcome to Marsden series. Do they end up in that dessert carousel in the diner?

You bet your Granny Smith they do.


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




You can find Jayne here:

JayneDenker.com

Twitter @JDenkerAuthor

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Books on Amazon