Friday, March 26, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Hazel Edwards, Author of Hijabi Girl

What is fusion food?

We made it up. The term, NOT the food from different cultures.

Ever tried Gozleme Vietnamese style? 

Behind Melek were trays of syrupy baklava layered watermelon seeds instead of walnuts. It was SO HARD for Melek NOT to lick the sugar off the saran wraps covering the dessert trays. She didn’t.  The ladies from Melek’s mosque had rolled out dough to turn gozleme into a Vietnamesey sort of dessert.  Gozleme was one of her favourites. 

In Hijabi Girl,  our 10 year old Melek character  is a feisty girl in a hijab who wants to start an Australian Rules girls’ football team. She sets up a fundraiser where they sell ‘fusion’ food from many of the cultures of the children in their mainstream school. With the money raised they can buy their uniforms and start their sports club. But it’s really about sharing. Tien is her new Vietnamese friend whose Dad is a chef whose business is struggling, but helps his daughter’s friends. So does Melek’s hijabi-fashionista mother who designs sports clothes. 

Tasting ‘fusion’ food is genuine book research for writers. And fun. But proof- reading the names of food in our Hijabi Girl in a different language can be a challenge. And now we even have puppets which are a Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll and a Turkish Kebab! Australian Larrikin Puppeteers are performing Hijabi Girl the musical and touring post-Pandemic.

So glad we made up ‘fusion food’ to share cultures. Fact is following fiction.

Now real schools are combining the food of different cultures on celebratory days. And students are dressing up as Hijabi Girl and her friends for Book Parades.  This is an extract combining Turkish and Vietnamese cuisine. 

For the fund-raiser, Tien’s Dad, helps with a fusion menu of Vietnamese and Turkish food. It’s a sell-out.  Pays for footy uniforms for all:

'I have the price lists,' Lily said. 'My Dad and I printed them out last night.' She tried to place the correct prices on the trays. 'Soo which one is the Gozleme with peanuts? The rice pudding with muuun ga beans?’  Lily tried to pronounce "mung beans".

‘It’s hard to price things you can’t say.’

'I'll show you, ' Melek helped Lily match names and prices on the desserts.’These are my favourites. This round one is a moon cake, filled with Turkish pistachios. The ones in the clear cups are sutlac, it’s like a milk rice pudding but Tien’s dad made it with bananas and tapioca pearls. And this one, che, is in the bowls. It looks like a soup, but it tastes just like Baklava!’ 

Co-writing across cultures means being introduced to tasty food, even if difficult to pronounce the names. Food matters in children’s books. As the Australian author of the picture book There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake (Puffin PRH),  I’ve shared lots of cake in hippo shapes across  40 years of  launches, book weeks, the film and the stage musical.

But our co-written Hijabi Girl junior novel had many knockbacks before publication due to media coverage of political incidents related to terrorism. Many of my books explore ‘coping successfully with being different’, but having ‘hijab’ in the title was challenging. My Australian co-author Ozge Alkan is a Muslim librarian who wears a hijab, is of Turkish origin, and was educated in USA, so she has an American accent. Ozge has helped on cultural issues. So has Serena Geddes, our illustrator of Sri-lankan heritage.

Australia is a very multi cultural society and when our book was launched at Craigieburn Library, an outer suburb of Melbourne, we had 62 nationalities and languages present.  Of our other characters Tien is Vietnamese, Zac is soccer mad , Lily loves fashion and for the series. AliGator is publishing and the Larrikin Puppets are performing, we’ve added Abdul, an Afro-Australian boy. A culinary and cultural mix. Ozge has been our cultural adviser on clothing length, hijabi folding and food.

In children’s books, food plays on the senses and provides a theme for book launches. A book offers the opportunity to live in another’s world for the length of the book and beyond via ‘fusion’ food and fusion cultures.

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

Touring post-Pandemic, Hijabi Girl features 14 colourful hand puppets and creative rod puppets hand-crafted by seven different puppet builders from across Australia, Indonesia and the USA. The show includes bizarre and delightful pencil, football,shark  and FOOD puppets. Puppeteers - Brett Hansen and Elissa Jenkins –were trained in the USA by Jim Henson puppeteers from The Muppets and Sesame Street.

You can find more about the book, play, authors and more here:

Hijabi Girl Book Page of latest news, reviews, photos, clips and resources for Hijabi Girl. Also has Teacher Resources which educators appreciate.

Larrikin Puppeteers  

Ali Gator Productions

Illustrator Serena Geddes New Website   

Larrikin Puppeteers’ successful submission to Artour for 2021/2 Qld touring.  Details of Hijabi Girl content and process. Vital case study of persistence.

About the Author:

Hazel is interested in stories crossing mediums. Celebrant Sleuth: I do or die, an adult mystery with an asexual sleuth is her latest AUDIBLE fiction, plus  KINDLE sequel Wed Then Dead on The Ghan being adapted as a screenplay with co-writer/producer Geoffrey Wright.

Co-written Hijabi Girl series  soon to tour as ‘Larrikin Puppets’ musical  explores cultural diversity. There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake series, turned 40 in 2020. 
Her memoir Not Just a Piece of Cake-Being an Author explores longterm creativity. Hazel is the current patron of the Society of Women’s Writers (Victoria).

Friday, March 12, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome H. Gibson, Author of The Chronicles of Han

As an author, I love food and give this love through in my books to the extent that readers blame me for 'putting on a few pounds' and'wanting coffee all the time'. I am glad that this is the feedback I receive.It means that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing as a writer. I allow the reader to experience the books.

"I have not taken food for a while. It would be a shock to my system," I replied, not wanting my mother to feel offended by my changing preference in food I used to enjoy.

"Do you no longer like the taste?" she enquired,revealing that she was well aware of what she was doing to me. It was her way of ascertaining what was wrong and different with me.

"If I could taste, I would probably enjoy the food," I confessed.

"Since when do you no longer taste?" she wanted to know, taking a second helping of bacon for herself, biting into the crunchy morsel with so much relish that I wanted to scream.

"Since becoming Navigator," I whispered."

Han Storm's comment on the above and his adventure with food in the Universe of Kraita: "When you become a Navigator you mostly need energetic energy, delivered by heavy metals such as gold, silver, copper and nickel alloy.

I still had a body. I still needed food. I had to stay human too in order to serve my Planet and her people.

My doctor had worked out a regimen of protein drinks, vitamin supplemented porridges, and intravenous feeds when they put me out to rest. I was a constant challenge for him; an interesting subject; a tool to be maintained, studied and kept in top condition.

Working in space was not for the faint of heart.

I missed planetary (three-dimensional) things. It became lonely without my family.

Above all, I missed to be able to just sit down and eat a proper meal. Something of everything I truly love.

Emotions are connected with food.

Memories are triggered by the thought, aroma or taste of a certain food item.

For me the adventure with food was an ongoing pleasure and experience.

Berries and wood smoke would elicit memories of Mara, Moira'smother, my first love. I only shared a week with Mara, highlighted with brilliant meals, from grilled fish, to a fowl baked to crispy heaven accompanied by baby sweet potatoes and other vegetables.

Chocolate and bacon always reminded me of father Tucker, my first partner in the Security Forces in my home town, on my beloved Creata.
Hei, my adopted father on Encha, loved to bake. His dried-out wheaten rusks, dunked into freshly brewed coffee until they were soggy to be eaten quickly was always a life-saver when I did not wish to eat but knew I had to.

Thick, juicy steaks, dripping with fat, charred to well done on the outside while pinkish in the middle was by far my favourite dish (next to anything with bacon of course).

Bacon could be served with every meal, in whatever form, I did not care if it was made from genetically engineered Sluggs and not pigs. It still tasted the same.

Sweet potatoes, squashes and pumpkins came after bacon and steak.I preferred the traditional Gaoucomian cooking of grilled sweet potatoes,sweetened with honey, cooked inside the tough skins. Such a meal will be served with whole green beans in garlic sauce, baby potatoes fried in bacon lard,grilled pumpkin flecked and filled with nuts and raisins, fresh fruits cut into finger portions, and green salads with spicy flowers.

My mother's sweet potato pie with whipped cream, sweetened with dark Gaoucomian wild honey was always a home treat. Basically any form of pumpkin in any form of pie made a great pudding.

For breakfast Hulo's farro made to a thick consistency from white maize, smothered under cream and sunny-side-up free-range eggs was a special treat.

Every meal should always be rounded off with coffee. No matter where we traveled, this beverage was still the preferred drink and thankfully was available in some or other form on almost all planets.

Good memories are made around meals.

Sad and hated memories too.

Certain foods, even though highly nutritious, I just could not stand. Enriched porridge and salty rye bread made me burst out into sweat at the memory of my imprisonment by the Enchan Cannibals. My people knew to keep these specific dishes far away from me.

I avoided taking any foods that reminded me of 'last meals' such as date pudding with sweet cream. It was the last serving of food Jade and I had shared before she died."

Conclusion from the author: Neither food nor eating should be taken for granted. There are many out there starving, unable to eat for whatever reason, be it poverty, drought, disease, illness or occupational hazard.

When you are blessed with food, use it wisely, be thankful, enjoy what you have, even if it is little, and please build good memories around meals.
Author, H Gibson, The Chronicles of Han Book Series

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

You can find H. Gibson here:

Thursday, March 4, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Kathryn Gauci, Author of Conspiracy of Lies

When writing Conspiracy of Lies, set in WWII France, food and wine played an important part in the story. I wanted to portray the difference between the glittering dinner parties of the German elite and the French people who were barely able to sustain themselves because of rationing and food being taken from France to Germany. My protagonist, Claire Bouchard, gets a taste for champagne when she is sent as journalist visit the champagne houses in the Champagne villages during the Phoney War prior to the German invasion of France. The great wine and champagne houses of France were a barometer of impending war much as they had been during WWI, and earlier wars, as the connections between French and German wine houses were very strong. On closer inspection, Claire notes that some of them are starting to hide their finest wines behind walled-up cellars. When she meets the man who will eventually become her lover, she learns even more about fine wine.

Although parts of the story are set in England and Paris, much of the story takes place in Brittany where Claire is sent to work as a secret agent for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and liaise with the Resistance. During her time there, she dines with the German Commandant who will become her lover and dines on everything from roast goose to venison with a rich red-wine sauce accompanied by an assortment of seasonal vegetables. She also has real coffee when her friends in the Resistance have nothing but foul-tasting ersatz coffee. Occasionally, she sneaks them out a piece of apple strudel or a ham. Even the breakfast table is a veritable feast: an array of cold cuts of meats, eggs, cheese, bread, and pastries. There is also an incident when the young son is out with his mother in Rennes and has an ice-cream. As everyone knows who the important German woman is with her son, it is served up without her paying for it, and the son leaves it, letting it melt in the warm son. Claire cringes when she knows such ice-cream is not available to most French at that time.

Even after the war, Claire still enjoys her fine wines, and her children cannot understand how she is such a connoisseur until her story as a secret agent unfolds. During several scenes after the war when her daughter, Sarah, tries to ask about her mother’s past, I bring in English afternoon teas, and contrast her mother’s Devil’s food-cake with a chocolate butter icing with that of her French friend’s afternoon teas in London. There, her maid creates wonderful French pastries, visitandes, macarons and madeleines.

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

You can find Kathryn here: