Thursday, September 12, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jan Ruth, Author of Silver Rain



Despite his hit and miss work life (house-husband, head-childminder, author, children’s entertainer) Al is no slouch when it comes to the kitchen. And it may seem that initially, Al really needs some redeeming qualities. I like writing about characters who are not conventional, especially where there is a romantic element as the traditional themes have been done to death. My main protagonists in this off-beat love story are both aged fifty. Al knows he is adopted, but despite the freedom of a country childhood and a ready-made brother in George, the feeling that’s he’s from a different background never quite leaves him and questions about his famous birth mother hover in the background until, aided by Kate, he finally manages to confront some of them.

Kate, once married to Fran’s deceased brother, is shocked to discover that Al has been banished from the family for a number of years, the reasons for which remain a dark secret and George remains tight-lipped. In fact, George is mightily disgruntled that since his divorce, Al is determined to bury the hatchet and move back to the family farm. Chathill Farm is a dilapidated small-holding, and the centre of Fran’s universe. Fran doesn’t cook and her housekeeping skills are notoriously rustic, and it’s further fuel to her husband's disgruntled fire that all the inmates are named after edibles – Butter, and Marg, the dogs; Bacon, the pig, and Stilton, the horse. Despairing, and hungry, George is forced to find culinary solace at a local hotel and since we’re in Wales, fare such as local lamb and bara-brith are staples of the menu.

Family drama is always rife at Christmas time and although Kate seems burdened with the main event in the kitchen, it’s Al who adds the more interesting ingredients – both figuratively and metaphorically – such as almonds and smoked bacon to the sprouts, and makes real custard from scratch… (I’m thinking the kitchen might be the only place Al is ever serious). But it’s the Christmas trifle which really takes centre stage, when Al’s ex-wife unexpectedly arrives on Boxing Day to gatecrash proceedings:

Lifting the tablecloth, Al wondered about getting underneath. He could see his brother, shifting his weight from one leg to the other, and he could see Helen’s knickers as she sat with her legs slightly apart, totally sloshed. It was tempting to drop down there and curl up in a ball, but what would that solve? No, the only possible option he had at that precise moment was one of surprise. Without rocking the table too violently, he managed to crawl underneath and surfaced next to Helen’s chair.

She seemed poised to begin some sort of rant, her finger ready to point and accuse. Thrown by his sudden, close proximity her nostrils flared and she inhaled deeply, steeling herself for battle. She was about to open her mouth and there was a brief connection when he looked, apologetically, into her eyes; the eyes of the woman he’d always love, as the mother of his children.

Then he pushed her, face down into the trifle.



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



You can find Jan here:








Jan Ruth lives in Snowdonia, a mountainous area of North Wales, UK. Jan writes contemporary fiction about the darker side of the family dynamic, often blending life in rural Wales with a touch of city business. Her style is best described as fast-paced and realistic, with a sprinkling of dry humour.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Carole Bumpus, Author of Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table



If  you tell me what you eat, I can tell you where you're from
by Carole Bumpus

While traveling in Europe, have you ever strolled down a cobblestone street, passed an open window and heard laughter flowing out to greet you?  Have you ever stopped to listen to the banter while wondering what it would be like to live there?  In that house?  That village?  And, oooooh!  What is that wonderful aroma?  Say, what are they eating?  I did too.

My book series, Savoring the Olde Ways, is a compilation of intimate interviews, conversations, stories and recipes I had the good fortune to gather from European families as I traveled throughout their countries. Part culinary memoir and part travelogue, these books are the personal stories told to me by individual families—from inside their homes along those very cobblestone streets.

As a retired family therapist, my initial interests were about the families themselves.  But as a lover of traditional foods and home cooking, I discovered that favorite ancestral foods brought both French and Italian families together—not only for holidays, but every day—at their own family tables. 

What sure-fire recipe did I use to open a topic of conversation?  I asked my hosts to tell me about their favorite foods as children.  Or, I asked if they could share with me the treasured recipes they prepared when first married.  But I quickly learned that I needed to prepare myself.  I needed to have pen and paper in hand, along with my trusty tape recorder. (Yes, I still used one.)

I also needed to quickly pull up to the kitchen table, because, without fail, I was headed for a most passionate journey.  You see, once I posed my question, the fondest of memories immediately rose to the surface—moments of delight of holidays past, favorite family foods, cherished traditions and beloved family stories—all would come bubbling forth.  And, before I knew it, my host would jump up, eyes bright with excitement as he or she would rush to the kitchen to snatch up a favorite recipe.

‘Voici!’ I would hear exclaimed in French, or ‘Ecco qui!’ in Italian. ‘Here it is!’ they would shout as they made a beeline back to my side. And there, clutched in hand, was a recipe card, all smudged with past efforts and spattered with passionate conviction.  Immediately, and because I’m only fluent in English, their arms would fly in all directions with mixing motions sweeping the air as they enacted the preparation of their favorite recipe.

By collecting recipes, I learned about their culture, their history, their loves and their sorrows.  I learned the favorite way to celebrate family was to return to the recipes of the past—the cuisine pauvre (French) or cucina povera (Italian)—the traditional cuisine of the family.   And, I learned that if you tell me what you eat, I can tell you where you’re from.


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



You can find Carole here: