Friday, February 26, 2016

FOODFIC: ZOO - James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

When will we know if the TV version of Zoo is coming back for a 2nd summer?

I so hope it is because they haven’t yet brought my favorite scene from the book to the screen!

You know the one I’m talking about – when people are attacked by wild, savage, ferocious…dolphins.

That’s right, dolphins. No, I’m not kidding, folks. It’s the fact that they are dolphins that makes the attack more frightening than the others. The lion attacks we can of course see coming a mile away, believable even to the extent of the cunningly plotted execution. But Patterson takes us completely by surprise by villainizing dolphins – the golden retrievers of the sea! – by giving them an uncharacteristic hunger for human flesh.

And no, that “hunger” is not the FoodFic tie-in. That distinction goes to the never-before-heard-by-me synonym for puking which was thrown out in a subsequent scene: feeding the seagulls. This caught my attention because my kids and I had just – the same day I read the passage – listed all the colloquialisms we’d ever heard for throwing up. We covered everything from cookies to tossed to porcelain gods hugged to chucks upped, but not one of us came up with seagull feeding. *smh* Just when I thought Patterson had no more tricks up his sleeve. Although that might’ve been Ledwidge’s contribution. ;)

But bodily functions aside, will it be those above-mentioned dolphin attacks that finally force the powers-that-be to take the animal threat seriously? They do acknowledge Jackson Oz and the motley crew of scientists that come together on the show much more quickly than they did in the text, but in both cases will it still be too late? Okay, I know how it ends book-wise, but we'll see if the show takes a different path...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Gary Dolman, Author of The Eighth Circle of Hell

A Little More than Gruel
Food in the Victorian Workhouse.

Please, sir, I want some more.

Those words, the words of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, are amongst the most infamous in literature. They were spoken to the master of a fictional workhouse, where the poor young boy Oliver, and his fellows, were being slowly starved on a diet consisting of 'three small bowlfuls of oatmeal gruel per day, with an onion twice a week and a roll on Sunday.'

As a writer of dark, Victorian fiction, workhouses feature prominently in my work. It would be surprising if they did not, since, even as the most prosperous nation on earth at the time, somewhere between a quarter and a third of the population of Britain passed through the workhouse system at some point in their lives. So what was the reality of the workhouse in terms of diet? Was it really as bad as Dickens portrayed?

The short answer, in very general terms anyway, is, no, although gruel – a mixture of oatmeal (or oatmeal and flour) and water – did feature. After the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, workhouses were subject to the general control of the specially appointed Poor Law Commissioners. These quickly issued a set of six sample dietary tables to the individual Boards of Guardians, who then used these as the basis for the particular diet in their own workhouses. Any variations were subject to the agreement of the Commissioners.

An example of an adult daily diet from the mid-nineteenth century is as follows: 

As this diet table illustrates, the main constituent of the workhouse diet was not gruel, but bread. Workhouse broth was usually the water used for boiling the meat, usually with a few vegetables added. Tea, mainly black, was often provided for the aged and infirm at breakfast, together with a small amount of butter. Supper was similar to breakfast.

A basic principle underpinning the Poor Laws was that of ‘less eligibility’. I make detailed reference to it in my novel, The Eighth Circle of Hell. In other words, to discourage what might be perceived as ‘idleness’, conditions inside the workhouses had to be worse than those of the meanest labourers in the ‘outside World’. Unfortunately, this was sometimes used as a pretext for providing food made from cheap, poor quality ingredients, or for short rations.

Workhouse inmates eating their meals in typically regimented rows.

By the 1890s, the fixed-ration dietary system was coming under particular scrutiny. By this time, most of the workhouse inmates tended to be the elderly or sick, and often found the coarse food difficult to eat. Bread in particular was being thrown away in vast quantities, since the regulations required that each inmate had to be given their prescribed serving, regardless of whether they wanted it or not. By the end of that decade, new regulations allowed workhouses to compile their own weekly menus from a range of about fifty dishes or ‘rations’. An official workhouse cookery book was compiled by the National Training School of Cookery with recipes such as batter pudding, bread pudding, seed cake, dumplings, fruit pudding, pasties, potato pie, rice pudding, shepherd's pie, haricot soup, lentil soup, pea soup, and of course...gruel.

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

You can find Gary here:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome S.A. Hunter, Author of Elanraigh

Elanraigh: The Vow is a YA/Adult High Fantasy set in medieval times, on an alternate Earth.  It’s fitting that my Heroine, Thera of Allenholme, should meet Chamakin, son of a Ttamarini Chief, at a celebratory feast in honor of their new alliance struck in a time of an impending war.

Feasts were important celebrations in medieval life, whether to welcome a new alliance, the arrival of a dignitary or to celebrate commemoration days and agricultural festivals.

Being of noble families, Thera and Chamakin are seated at the High Table. Their meat course tonight is tender roast chicken served in a stew of wine, sugar, and expensive spices such as saffron and ginger. These spices, including the sugar loaf, Thera’s mother keeps under strict lock and key. The chicken is served on an “upper crust” trencher of pandemain, the best of white bread, made from highly sifted flour. A dessert course of wafers, candied fruits and mulled wine is placed before them.

As Thera sips at her mulled wine, and casts shy glances at the handsome stranger next to her,  at the lower tables, soldiers and merchants are enjoying their dark beer.

The feast grew raucous and loud, dinning in her ears. Even the Harbor Master who had been so pompous in his welcoming speech was now blowing froth off his beer into the laughing face of a burly stave smith.

Thera and Chamakin, seated side by side, are very conscious of each other…

I can’t eat. This surprises her, for usually her appetite’s hearty. She eyes the trencher before her and her mouth waters—but her stomach clenches. Tentatively she takes a bite of crusty warm bread, chews and swallows with an audible sound. She glances sideways at Chamakin. He ate slowly, chewing with determination. His face was flushed with bright color along the high cheekbones.

From this night on, life will never be the same for Thera, Chamakin and their peoples—it is a good thing we learn that Thera can communicate with the ancient and sentient forest, Elanraigh—for that powerful entity has no intention of letting Allenholme fall to enemy invaders.

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

You can find Sandy here:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lynn Hubbard, Author of Return to Love

Food is an essential part of books. Living breathing characters have to eat! And I want you to indulge with them.

In Return to Love, 16-year-old Joanie and her friends visit a carnival. Your senses are on overload with the bright colored lights, the sound of screams and music and chatter, and, of course, the scents.

The aroma of carnival fodder. The sweet, sweet smell of cotton candy; you can almost imagine the feathery pink ribbons of stickiness wrapped around a paper tube. And the taste! Pure sugar with a hint of raspberry. There is no wrong way to eat cotton candy - you can dig in with your face or pull delicate tendrils off with your fingers and pop them into your mouth. Either way, you end up covered in the sticky remnants and licking your fingers clean. Especially since napkins and bathrooms are quite scarce back in 1959.

Hot dogs are a staple - the crispier the better. And covered in chili and onions, yummy. Not the best date food, but who cares?

Did I mention the popcorn? I have no idea what makes fresh popped popcorn smell so good! Even if you aren’t hungry you can sense your taste buds awakening, your mouth watering, and you have to have a taste of the buttery goodness.

But alas, the fun cannot last forever. Joanie has to return to school and face the cafeteria. She prefers to bring her lunch, a little bit of home. The best part of lunch is seeing her friends, gathering under a tree on the lawn, and enjoying a respite from the grueling chore of high school.

One of Joanie’s favorite foods is spaghetti. Her mother is a nurse who works long hours to support Joanie and her brother, and the time spent together in the kitchen is very precious to them. It's a time to talk, to renew their relationship, to help and inspire each other.

Memories stay with us. Isn’t it funny how certain smells or tastes can transfer us back in time to when we experienced them before? Food is an important part of life. It brings people together. It can revive an old memory or be an entirely new experience and I will try anything once!

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

You can find Lynn here:

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Lynn Hubbard is a Historical Romance Author, Publisher, and Patriot. Author of eight books, she has a deep love of history and instills that in her work. Lynn’s passion is our Vets. She volunteers many hours standing for our fallen veterans with the Patriot Guard Riders. She also works on multiple projects with the American Legion.

With Veteran suicides at a high, Lynn has created a book to help spread awareness. PTSD No Apologies was released on veteran’s day. The book contains personal stories written by vets. This is not chicken soup. It is a thought provoking piece demonstrating how everyone handles PTSD differently. Proceeds go towards buying books for the Veteran’s in the VA Hospitals Nationwide.

PTSD does not mean you are weak, it means you have survived.