Kassius Kanex Culinary 101
As a consumer of stories, I frequently reflect on the ingredients that are consistently present in the ones I love. Sure the story has to be interesting, but how is that achieved? The story has to be good. Well, yes! The story has to take the reader on a trip of the mind. Of course it does! The scenes must contain all, or at least some of the genres of action, comedy, drama, suspense and horror. The story must intrigue, interest, bewilder, sadden, anger or cheer the consumer, regardless of the medium - film, score, theatre, audiobook or the written word. How does it achieve this? What is that most important ingredient - the holy grail of story, or so to say? Character investment! The viewer, the listener and the reader must become invested and they must come to care about what happens to the characters. They must laugh at their jokes, they must cry when they suffer and they must cheer when they succeed. There are an endless multitude of ways readers become invested in characters. One of those ways can be answered by the question, “But what are they eating?”
Enter the protagonist, Kassius Kanex. This sci-fi / thriller / horror story begins with the main character’s realization of his inability to continue spending so much time and focus on a job that does not bring him fulfillment. One of his many coping mechanisms is the preparation of his lunches for the week - all five prepared ahead of time. The simpleness and controlling nature of these lunches seem insignificant at first, but they provide a link to the ongoing theme of the coexistence of the simple and the complex as the preparation and contents of the lunch is explained in detail. The ingredients for the lunch are tuna, hot sauce, almonds, yogurt, and cottage cheese. A breakfast is also described, but then there is the fruit.
His search for the destiny he believes to be out there begins very suddenly, following a mysterious call for help. Without knowing why at the time, he intuitively places four pieces of fruit in the palm of his left hand while alone at work. The fruit - two apples and two oranges, are stacked in a pyramid form and as he walks to his desk, he ritualistically holds the fruit pyramid, outstretched as far and as high as he can in front of him, as a kind of plea to whatever god or force that may be out there. Remarkably, this call for help is answered and a path to his destiny comences.
As his new involvement with a secret organization begins to replace his current work life, the regular part of him - his family life, must continue. This is where the complex is joined with the simple. As Kassius becomes overwhelmed with his new experiences, he takes refuge in his joy of cooking in order to cope.
When he begins to question the changes he is experiencing, he starts the prep for a homemade pizza that he will cook on time for when his family comes home. In this long and therapeutic scene of the chopping and organization of the ingredients into a neat row of containers on the counter, he finds peace of mind to ponder all that is happening. The beer helps too. When his family arrives, he assembles the pizza for them and cooks it on an outdoor grill while enjoying their company. Every single step of the prep, assembling, cooking instructions and serving is explained like a cookbook, further emphasizing how food is therapy for Kassius as he struggles with change.
The food references don't stop there. Throughout the trilogy, Kassius and other characters seem to possess a love of all things culinary. From award worthy breakfasts, to homemade subs, pizzas and burritos, the theme of the simple alongside the complex continues. There are fresh caught fish prepared over a bonfire, the agave fruit, pirozhki and pineapple chicken skewers basted with bbq sauce. There is a mind blowing quiche, hot dogs, poutine, burgers and even supernatural garlic that affects time.
There are food and drink parties, breakfast meetings, family suppers and friends meeting at pubs. There is also Rock’s amazing microbrewery which provides a steady supply of the most amazing beers on the planet!
In the Kassius Kanex series, food provides a backdrop of simplicity to anchor the reader in a comfy chair to view the danger, chaos and complexity constantly unfolding around them. This chair comes with a seat belt, so buckle up because it’s one hell of a ride!
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, MK!
MK Schultz is the Canadian author of The Kassius Kanex trilogy. A father of two young adults, he lives in a wooded area in the outskirts of Ottawa. He and his wife are avid outdoor enthusiasts in all seasons. Although formally educated in Architecture, his true passion is writing. Schultz is currently writing a new, stand-alone novel in a different genre.