Thursday, May 26, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Charles W. Jones, Author of Circus Tarot

“Get your Cotton Candy! A token a fluff!” the man in the red-and-white-striped suit yells, though he doesn’t need to raise his voice as he walks the fairway; the Ladies and Gentlemen flock to him wherever he is. His completion is the midget peddling popcorn, and his brother, Six of Poles, who sells roasted peanuts. Of course, he sells more Cotton Candy than the combination of both his rivals.

Cotton Candy, after all, is the food of the gods. In World Circus you can live your entire life eating nothing else. Though your tastes may change for a moment, craving the saltiness of fresh popped corn, or the earthy meat of the peanut, you will always return to the main staple.

During periods of being “flipped”, the stomach won’t grant the sweet floss access to touch its lining, allowing only raw flesh from a fellow member of World Circus inside. Then with the blink of an eye, the condition rights itself, and the patron craves nothing else but Cotton Candy.

The children who come to the Circus, swarm around him, jumping and reaching for the delectable treat. Gripping the white, paper cone, their faces disappear behind the bright pink or blue fluff, before they giddily scatter inside World Tent to watch the show.

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

Find the author and his books here:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Audrey Kalman, Author of Dance of Souls

Taste Will Tell
by Audrey Kalman

I’ve always loved both writing and cooking. In fact, I once wrote and published a cookbook. That was back in the days when “self-publishing” meant photocopying and comb binding the pages.

The combination of books and food—or literature and gustatory experiences, if you want to be fancy about it—is a natural one, and food seems to work its way into my writing often. A scene from my novel Dance of Souls brings two characters together for a home-cooked meal:

Roxanna had cooked him pollo mole—her mother’s recipe, with nothing from a jar or can. She had toasted and ground the nuts herself and softened the fruit (although she had used the blender and not the metate her mother would have used), hoping to demonstrate to Mr. Candine that in some dishes, albeit not in the case of coffee, ample emotion could compensate for a less-than-scientific approach. He had even helped her in the kitchen as they drank Corona straight from the bottle—another concession by Mr. Candine to his steadily slipping standards. Indeed, the dish had been a great success and they had both eaten more than was strictly good for them.

You could hardly find two more mismatched lovers; their attitudes toward food reveal their differences. Roxanna, the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, is searching for her place in suburban California and has latched onto a fundamentalist church as a way to stay connected to her past. Cooking is part of her heritage and childhood, something she does as naturally as breathing.

Mr. Candine is a displaced mid-westerner, a religious fanatic with delusions of grandeur and some very peculiar ideas about the world. He also teaches middle-school science. His fussy precision—really just a way for him to maintain the illusion of control—makes itself evident when he cooks and eats. (The mention of coffee is a reference to the scientific exactitude he brings to the task of brewing his morning joe.)  It’s a great testament to Roxanna’s feminine wiles that she has gotten him to loosen up enough to drink beer while helping her cook, and straight from the bottle, no less!

How a character relates to food, cooking, and eating reveals a great deal about who they are and their motivations. I wonder what it reveals about authors…

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

You can find Audrey here:

Audrey has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen and has been editing professionally for more than twenty-five years. Her novel What Remains Unsaid is scheduled for publication in 2016 by Sand Hill Review Press. Her previous novel, Dance of Souls, appeared in 2011. Many online and print journals have published her short fiction and poetry. She lives in northern California with her husband, two sons, and two cats, and is at work on another novel. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Sharon Ricklin, Author of the Ravenswynd Series

In Greek mythology, Ambrosia is considered the food and drink of the gods. It is often depicted as bestowing longevity or immortality upon whoever consumes it. The Ravens (a secret society of vampires) use donor blood and call their ruby-red liquid Ambrosia. This nectar is life sustaining on its own, but contrary to popular belief, vampires also eat solids. Because of their heightened senses, the Ravens are acutely aware of how things taste, and take much pleasure in consuming a wide variety of foods. Fortunately, these ravenous vampires do not gain weight.

In book 1 (Ravenswynd Legends) Elizabeth believes she’s just met the man of her dreams. Before she can get to really know him, she receives an invitation to a clandestine party – where legend has it – is hosted by vampires. The invitation promises a good time, good food and drink, and the choice to become “one of them”. She, her twin sister Melinda, and best friend Fiona, decide to attend, and as you can imagine - their lives will never be the same. Vampires also have an appetite for changing things…

Champagne flows freely. Platters of sizzling hot fillet mignon, (grilled to perfection, juicy and rare) are served, along with baked potatoes, baskets of hot, buttery bread, salads, and chocolate fudge cake. Everyone’s having fun…at first.

But the evening grows ominous, and chances are, they may never get home; Melinda is getting drunk, Fiona's gone missing, and a nightmarish clown is stalking Elizabeth. But even more terrifying - this sinister vampire thirsts for much more than what's flowing through her veins…

Book 2, Ravenswynd Dreams, opens with a romantic and mouthwatering honeymoon.

Upon entering the suite, Elizabeth notices the sweet scent of fresh fruit: grapes, strawberries, cherries and mangoes, apples and bananas. Also, a gift-basket containing a bottle of champagne with a variety of crackers, sharp cheese, smoky sausages, and dark chocolates. (For needed nourishment…later on.)

Several scrumptious meals will be consumed. On a night out on the town they enjoy jellied ham hock, a glazed leek and mushroom tart, and for the main course - rack of lamb with a crispy herb crust, Boulangère potatoes, and butternut squash. They drink a fine bottle of Chablis, and for dessert - hot fudge sundaes smothered in rich chocolate and warm toffee. The honeymooners will also feast on a delectable lunch that includes savory lobster for two, a bottle of red wine, and five-layer chocolate cream pie for dessert. I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering now.

I bet you didn’t know that vampires love chocolate. After moving to the UK and meeting the rest of the vampire society at Ravenswynd, Elizabeth is pleased to learn this fact. She often finds the cook whipping up batches of chocolate mousse or Tiramisu cheesecake for dessert. She also discovers a little known secret: immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Her dreams become real-life nightmares, and she finds herself up to her neck in a mind-bending abduction…

In book 3, Ravenswynd Visions, an enchanting trip to the Hebrides brings magnificent sights, and more luscious foods. Not only is the lodge’s fridge stocked with a basket of plump strawberries, Hebridean handmade chocolates and a bottle of fine Italian wine, Elizabeth is surprised to find that their violet-eyed prophetess, Sibelle can cook. She serves fresh fruits, bacon and eggs, grilled tomato, toast and marmalade, with cups of steaming hot English tea. On the side - tall glasses of Ambrosia - a most delicious donor, of course.

She also serves them a disturbing prophecy in the form of a rhyming riddle. This fills Elizabeth with a dreadful sense of foreboding; she knows that Sibelle is never wrong. And sometimes evil returns when you least expect it…

In book 4, Ravenswynd Destinies, a tasty breakfast includes fresh fruit-stuffed cantaloupe: each half filled with oranges, apples, peaches, blueberries, and strawberries, topped with honey- yogurt dressing, and on the side - scoops of fluffy scrambled eggs and ham.

At an elegant restaurant, Lizzy orders pan-fried Gressingham duck breast with star anise and blood-orange sauce – (It’s a real thing!) This comes with potatoes Dauphinoise and chef’s vegetables. Her husband orders the Prime Scottish sirloin steak (so melt-in-your-mouth divine, that Lizzy wishes she’d ordered it as well.)

Alas, there is more to our story than food. A forbidden trip to the U.S. enrages a clandestine ring of Vampire Hunters, putting everyone in danger. There’s another mystifying prophesy. Heart-twisting and astonishing revelations will change everything…

* * * * *

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for though, Sharon!

NOTE: Book 1 of the Ravenswynd Series is FREE everywhere.

Find Sharon and the books here:

Friday, May 6, 2016

FOODFIC: Iqbal - Francesco D'Adamo

13-year-old Fatima works in a carpet factory, bonded to master Hussain Khan to pay off her family’s debt. Khan keeps the total amount owed on a slate beside each child worker's loom, lightening the debts by one rupee for each full day of satisfactory work. When all the debt lines have been erased, the children will be free to go home. Fatima, who’s been indentured to Khan for 3 years (and to 2 other masters before him), doesn’t know which chalk marks represent her running tally and which spell out her name because she never learned to read.

Her entire young life consists of carpet-weaving: a work day that runs from sunrise to sunset, opening with chapatti and dal half an hour before dawn, served by the master’s wife in one large bowl to be shared amongst the 14 child laborers. They do break for a lunch of chapatti and vegetables, but, as Fatima relates, break lasted an hour…hunger a good deal longer.

And in the early days, she dreamed of home, including the sweet laddu my mother made with chickpea flour, the desserts and almonds that we ate on feast days. But those memories have faded over the years, and the hopes the children now share with one another are not for sweeter food, but for sweeter dreams. Or even any dreams at all. Fatima’s grandmother once told her that to have no dreams is the worst fate of all, and so the children compete every morning by making up fantastical sleep adventures from the night before.

Those false dreams were truly all they had to live on until Iqbal arrived. Iqbal, who was two years older than Fatima with eyes sweet and deep and [that] weren’t afraid.

It is Iqbal who crushes those pretend dreams as well as the children’s hopes that their debts will indeed someday be erased. But he replaces those fantasies with a real hope – that one day they will run away from the factory. A dream that Iqbal swears he will bring to fruition. And that may actually sustain them far better than that forgotten sweet laddu.