Friday, March 25, 2016

FOODFIC: Going Over - Beth Kephart

Love proves itself.

Ada didn’t think up this saying, but she believes it as fiercely as if she did. And the love she wants to do the proving is that of Stefan, the boy she’s loved for the 3 years since she turned 12.

Unfortunately Ada’s story doesn’t take place in 21st century in America, and the hill she wants Stefan to surmount to be with her isn’t some sort of metaphorical social obstacle. Ada and Stefan live in 1983 Germany on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall. He’s East, she’s West, and they’re  separated not only by the imposing cement, but by its accompanying fences, mines, dogs, and twenty-two-centimeter-high asparagus grass as well.

Yes, I had to stop there and look that  up. You’ll be interested – I know I was – to learn that asparagus grass is edible, and it is grass. No, I wasn’t initially sure of either; I thought it might be a name for some sort of weapon or obstacle, like barbed wire. Funny enough, in some of  the images I found it does look a bit like barbed wire, and its shoots are organized – or rather so disorganized – that in Turkish they call asparagus grass “Kuxkonmaz” which translates to “bird can’t land,” so its usage/placement around the wall is perhaps more apropos than the Germans were even aware.

Anyway, yes, Wikipedia may have proven the existence of asparagus grass, but not Stefan’s love.*

On their scheduled permitted visits, Ada sneaks in articles describing the best escape gadgets – double-jointed ladders, invisible string, escapable coffins – but all Stefan wants to do is kiss her and take her hand and go for walks. He wants to savor every precious moment they have together by being together, while Ada wants him to devise a way to make that time endless. He’s today, while she’s always five steps into tomorrow. When you look at it that way – his short-sightedness versus her long – hers seems more like love, his like infatuation. Then again, his feelings might be the more grounded and realistic of the two when considering the concrete obstacles in their path.

Either way, you’ll be pulling for these to beat the odds, cross that wall, and trample that asparagus grass.

*Because love proves itself, remember? I know I digressed a bit, but surely you can’t have forgotten that already!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Sanela Jurich, Author of Remember Me

At the innocent age of fifteen, Selma was just beginning to experience the power of her first love.

Unfortunately, living in Bosnia in 1992, Selma and her parents soon found themselves targets of the Bosnian War. Being in a war, they didn’t have a lot of choices when it came to food. They ate whatever they could find.

Since Selma and her parents lived in a city, they didn’t have a vegetable garden or live stock. They ran out of money, so they couldn’t just go out and buy food.

At first, they would walk to Selma’s grandparents’ farm and borrow food. The walk would usually take them about two hours there and two hours back, but as the war situation got worse, going there became too dangerous.

After Selma’s father got arrested by the Serb army and taken away to a concentration camp, Selma and her mother were at the end of their rope. They had absolutely nothing to eat and no way of getting food. That’s when one of Selma’s neighbors pitched in and started sharing with them what little food she had left.

She didn’t have much herself, so they had to come up with their own recipes in order to create something out of nothing.

One of Selma’s favorite things to eat at the time were these little doughnut-like cookies they didn’t even have a name for.

In a large bowl, they would mix a little bit of flour with a couple of diced apples, a pinch of sugar, and some water. They would, then, take spoon-fulls of it and deep fry until golden brown. Sprinkled with some powder sugar—if they were lucky enough to have it— it almost tasted delicious.

Those were the happy memories of shared meals in a war. However, those days didn’t last too long, for Selma was unfortunate enough to be taken away from home and thrown into a concentration/rape camp where she had to learn the hard way about how little a person needs in order to survive.

Follow Selma’s journey through love, despair, hope, and peace in author Sanela Jurich’s Remember Me. Experience the brutality of the Bosnian Genocide, but see how God’s hand restores Selma’s life tenfold. Understand the courage it takes to face your attackers and relive the pain in the name of justice. Discover whether love can blossom from beneath the rubble of war.

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

You can find Sanela here:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Vickie Johnstone, Author of The Sea Inside

When Shelley asked me to contribute a post about the food my characters eat in The Sea Inside, my first thought was it’s a good job she didn’t ask about I Dream of Zombies – not from the perspective of the zombies anyway.

The Sea Inside is set in three different places – our own reality, that of Entyre lost beneath the waves and another fantasy world – between which the heroine, sixteen-year-old Jayne discovers a bridge, thanks to a strange gift from an older character, Sophia. Waking in a forest, confused as to whether it is real or a product of her imaginings, Jayne wanders into danger, from which she is rescued by a stranger from the sea, called Skyen.

“I was not dreaming. There was no way my imagination could conjure all of this up and for it to seem so real… There was neither sun nor moon nor stars, only a faint mist. The stars of my home were replaced by glittering lights that flickered in the blue of everything.”

Of course, being a Brit, I made one of the most important conversations in the book – between Jayne and Sophia – happen over a good old cuppa. As in real life, things may be solvable over a warming mug of tea.

In our world, Jayne lives with her grandfather, and I imagine he did most of the cooking. It would be traditional English fare, such as: bangers (sausages) and mash; egg, bacon and chips; meat pies; baked beans on toast; eggy soldiers; and beef roast dinner with roast potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding, splattered with gravy on Sundays. I’m sure there would be a treacle pudding in there somewhere - and gallons of tea.

In Entyre, the scene where Jayne meets Skyen’s family for the first time takes place over dinner, prepared by Manna. I was thinking of Manna from Heaven. Manna was ground in a heavenly mill for the use of the righteous, but some of it was allocated to the wicked and left for them to grind themselves (Wikipedia).

In a sky-coloured room where lights sparkle in the walls and all the furnishings are indigo, the food is served on a table resembling glass but is made of sheer ice. Manna entered the room through a doorway filled with blue mist, which shimmered to nothing at her approach and then materialised again. The guests ate and drank from bowls and cups made from sparkling blue glass, using wooden utensils. On offer were fruits and pastries, the purest lemon juice mixed with an ingredient Jayne didn’t recognise, and there was total silence as everyone tucked in. One of Jayne’s favourite dishes was a combination of carrots, almonds and apples – or at least these were the ingredients from her own world that she matched it to. The dish was inspired by a salad I love, which I discovered on holiday in Poland.

Thinking of the food scenes, I thought that maybe I didn’t write enough of them! Perhaps because when I’m writing, eating seems trivial when really it’s as necessary as oxygen. It’s going to make me think about food a whole lot more.

Thanks to Shelley for inviting me on her blog. Bon appetit!

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

Vickie Johnstone lives in London and works as a 
magazine sub-editor. She has written 16 books. 
One of her favourite foods is Milky Bar chocolate.

You can find Vickie here:

And find all of her books here:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Richard Rhys Jones, Author of The Sisterhood of the Serpent

"A food blog", she said. "Write about food."
So here I am, writing about food… Well, actually what the characters in my book, The Sisterhood of the Serpent would eat.

To be fair, it's pretty safe to say that this is new land for me. New land on a scale of the Mayflower Pilgrims crashing into Plymouth Rock, or Neil Armstrong and his "One small step" shenanigans!

Well, whatever, here goes…

Now, it could be said that, The Sisterhood of the Serpent takes place chiefly in a hotel room, and that would not be a lie. However, there are also scenes set on a ranch run by a seriously deviant cult, in a Satanist commune in Colorado, also in a prison, (on Death Row to be precise) and just outside the gates of Hell. So, as you can see, these wide-ranging locations could produce quite a broad variety of eats for us to pontificate on. However, for the sake of keeping your interest I'll just pick a couple, otherwise we'll be here all day.

So I'll start with the cult's ranch, as I don't actually see them dining in any elaborate fashion. The cult members have all promised themselves to Leviathan, the serpent demon. Their lives mean nothing, and they live only to serve their cult, the Sisterhood of the Serpent. The devotees endure brutish scarification and body alterations to resemble the snake devil they follow, with their ultimate goal being to join the ranks of the Nagani, the asp-like beings that wait at the gates of hell. So it's pretty obvious their diet isn't going to be rich in either consistency or taste. 

I see them surviving in their first year on a daily ration of turnip gruel, hard unleavened bread, and water. As time goes by and their station rises, perhaps their fare would improve. However, their mortal existence functions only to prepare themselves for the afterlife, so the quality of food wouldn't play such a major roll. Basically, they're living on British school dinners, and they like it that way!

Contrasting mightily with the poor tucker at the Sisterhood's ranch, the hotel room run by the FBI to house the two main protagonists is a different thing entirely. I put them in Bailey's, an imaginary hotel casino complex on the Las Vegas strip, so their every wish would be catered for.

Jim Gregory is a young lawyer from a well to do family. Used to the high life, but not snooty, Jim would be at home eating dainty Vol-au-vents at a polite soiree, or beer and steak with his friends. I see him being a good cook, who knows his wine and is willing to pay for a good Chardonnay for his oysters, rather than a super market brand.

Jim's pregnant wife Rebecca is a different animal altogether. An investigative reporter, she wears the pants in the family and has experienced the gritty ills of the wide, nasty world. She looks after herself, but is willing to rough it if needs be, and has done on many occasions whilst in the throes of her work.

In the book she has reported on bear baiting in India, drug running in Guatemala, Stasi informers being uncovered in Germany, and institutionalized racism in the South African police force. So it's fair to say she's pretty knowledgeable about many cultures and their cuisine.

I see Rebecca being keen on Indian or Latin-American food, curries and spiced meats, peppers and chilis; edibles with a kick that take her back to the adventurous days before she caught pregnant, as she busted scoops and scandals, and made her name on the front line of reporting.

Jim and Rebecca are experiencing a nightly barrage of terror and pain, their very souls are threatened by creatures from the depths of our worst nightmares, but at least they're dining well, right?

Now we come to the Nagani, the dwellers at the gates of Hell who await the coming of Leviathan. They want to claim Rebecca and her unborn baby, and are using horrific dreams that infringe on reality to put their message across.

Officially the Nagani don't eat, being that they're dead and have passed on to a different plane. However, I could probably imagine the chief priestess responsible for harassing our heroes having a nosy in their fridge before actually starting to haunt them. I doubt she wants to eat anything, maybe she does, who knows? But seeing as food plays such a massive roll in our lives, be it turnip gruel or beer and steak, I suppose the interest in it would be slow to wane? I mean, feeding only on the agony she inflicts on the living must be tedious fodder in comparison to a bowl of spicy meatballs, well that's what I reckon.

So perhaps she crosses over from the dream world a little earlier than usual, and casts an eye over the contents of her victim's pantry, before going on to beleaguer and terrify her victims?

The priestess herself is a hag who was probably "recruited" around the time of the First World War, or maybe ever earlier? She'd be mortified by today's manufactured foods, chemical cheese and hormonally-charged meats; though I dare to venture she'd approve of the wide range of fruit and vegetables available nowadays. I see her being a country woman who grew up on raw dairy products, self-butchered meat and fresh, native greens; well, until she was recruited by the Nagani to feed on the suffering of mortals, that is.

So there you have it, a slice of the culinary action (not) contained in my book, The Sisterhood of the Serpent.

I might actually rename it as Jim and Rebecca's Pabulum for Purgatory
Nah, just joshing, I found the word earlier and I've been aching to use it.

Thanks very much to Shelley for having me on here, and to you for your precious time and attention. If you want to read my work, look me up on Amazon, though my work is waaaay heavier than this BlogSpot… and don't take the one star reviews too seriously ;)

Take it easy,
Reg (Richard Rhys Jones. Author of horror and various food orientated blog posts)

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