Nothing Brings People Together Like an Eiffel Tower Cake...and Other Fictional Follies
By Holly Robinson
A confession: I am not a cook. My husband is the cook. In fact, he won me over on our first date because he took what looked like a wilted spinach leaf, a solitary egg, and a piece of yarn—okay, maybe not yarn—and made me a delectable omelet.
Me? The first time I cooked for him, it was lasagna made with no-boil noodles and a jar of no-name red sauce. But he married me anyway, God bless him.
However, the best thing about being a fiction writer (other than working in your sweats most of the time) is that you can be an expert at ANYTHING. In the six novels I have published so far, I have been a painter, a potter, a DJ, a real estate agent, a construction worker, a secretary, a PR executive, a competitive equestrienne, a sheep farmer, a therapist, a backpacker in the Himalayas, and—wait for it—a fabulous cook!
Of course, doing all of these jobs requires a combination of real life experience (I took pottery lessons and horseback riding lessons) and research. Cooking is the toughest thing I've ever written about in a novel by far, since I'm the sort of person who is likely to text her husband emergency questions like this: “Should I have taken the plastic wrap off the chicken pie before I put it in?”
For my newest novel, Folly Cove, I was pushing every envelope by having the characters not only be great cooks (these three sisters grew up in an inn, after all), but ace bakers, too. This meant researching the sorts of foods typically served in historic New England inns (prime rib or lobster, anyone?) and how they were made.
And, as a bonus, I had these three sisters organize a birthday party for their mother, Sarah, despite the fact that Sarah has not always been the most loving mother and has some pretty dark secrets, starting with the fact that she is not who she says she is...
The cake had to be as extreme and elegant as Sarah has always seemed. And the birthday party had to have a theme. Finally it came to me: one way of outing Sarah's true identity (and age) would be to have a party based on her favorite movie, An American in Paris, which came out the year she was born—or did it?
And, since the movie is set in Paris, of course the cake had to be shaped like the Eiffel Tower, and big enough to serve lots of guests. Amazingly enough—or maybe not, given how much you can find online these days—I discovered more than one recipe online. Here's one of them:
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Holly!
You can find Holly here: