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Posts Tagged ‘food’

I feel certain sex is the number one interest in most writing, but close behind must be food.  I know it plays a big part in my writing.  The very first sentence in my first novel reads: Sonora Livingston-Bundt examined in minute detail the delicate moist jewels of caviar, nestled in folds of creamy goat cheese, cradled by leaves of crispy endive.  I just can’t help myself, I am always writing about food in one form or another.  Sprinkled all through the rest of the novel are references to dinners, parties, snacks, shopping for food, coffee, tea, drinks, pies – a whole subplot involves opening a pie shop.  And I am sure there are many other references I can’t remember.

With obesity such a prominent subject these days I decided to write a children’s book – middle grade I believe it’s called – for kids 10-15.  It is set as a treasure hunt adventure.  Three very bright kids need to search for their parents who have not returned from a trip abroad.  In trying to find out where they might have gone they discover two books.  The father’s journal, and their mother’s journal of recipes.  She is a cookbook writer.  The father’s journal is a coded map to where the parent’s might be.  The kids must follow clues and go to various countries in various times using their father’s invention of a time machine.  The clues are coordinated with the mother’s journal of recipes.  The clues are in the recipes.

The purpose of the book was to introduce kids to healthy eating by exploring food from around the world.  Healthy international recipes that are simple to make and that the readers can do themselves.

That book was a lot of fun to write and of course was radically foodcentric.

I have always been intrigued by the idea of incorporating complete recipes right into the story itself.  I did that in a short story about a group of friends getting together for an Easter feast.  Just to give an example here is a sample of using the preparation of a dish within the story.  Hopefully one can enjoy the unfolding storyline while also getting a complete recipe as well.  Here’s a portion of the story.

George lived in a fantasy house on a cliff right above the ocean.  His house looked like a French half-timber manor with a Norman tower that descended to the beach via a spiral staircase.  George had been a Hollywood cinematographer for many years but escaped from the rat race to retire to his retreat where he puttered, and lovingly restored his dream house over several years. 

George had a houseguest this weekend.  Samantha was a British lady of some years (she would never reveal her true age) who resided in York City and would visit for several weeks at a time.  They had met many years ago on the beaches of Mexico, and had kept up a scintillating friendship ever since. 

George was adept at salads and simple breakfasts involving smoked salmon but had absolutely no idea how to approach a Moroccan feast.  On this Saturday morning he was plowing through a Mediterranean cookbook someone had given him one Christmas because “the pictures were so nice.”  He was mumbling and cursing and swatting at pages looking for something suitable.  Samantha came to the rescue.

 “I can’t believe you have no idea how to cook at your advanced age,” She taunted as she pulled the book from him and turned smartly to the index.  She studied the entries under Morocco and pointed.  “Here, just the thing,” she pronounced as she selected a Tagine Batata Hloowa, pointing to the entry like she was instructing a toddler in calculus.

George stared at her as though she had just given birth to a calf.  “I have no idea what that is.”

“Of course not, you’re an infidel.”  She pointed to the top of a kitchen cabinet where he had a fancy array of culinary pottery displayed – all for decoration; probably covered in dust; and, without a doubt, never used.  “And what do you suppose that is?” she asked in a very superior mode, pointing to a rough-looking dish with a tall conical lid.

“A dish,” he replied, not about to let her snippy attitude cow him.

“A tagine,” she smirked.  “A Moroccan baking dish.”

“Well goodie.  Looks like it will hold a dandy salad.”

“Oh…” She brushed him aside and started rummaging through his cupboards and refrigerator.  “Get it down.”

“Please?” he taunted.

“Yes.  Please.”  She looked at it as he brought it down.  “And clean it up while you’re at it.”

As he was washing the tagine she pulled out several cans of pearl onions left over from some Christmas long ago – some yams, some carrots and a bag of somewhat dried out pitted prunes.  “Do you have any sesame seeds?” she asked fishing through a cupboard of spices and pulling out what else she would need to season the dish.

“What are they?”

“Useless, useless,” she mumbled, finally finding a small packet at the back of the shelf.  “Good, this will work out nicely.”

“Need any help?” he asked,  indeed, beginning to feel useless.

She looked around at what she had gathered.  “Yes, can you peel the yams?  You do have a peeler somewhere, yes?”

He rummaged in a drawer and pulled out a splendid peeler, presenting it to her like he had just brought home the Heiseman Trophy.

“Excellent.” 

He continued to hold it up, quite unaware what to do with it.

“So peel the potatoes,” she nudged.

“Oh, yeah.”  He turned to the sink and began to peel the yams.

Samantha sautéed the pearl onions in a pan with some butter.  She took out half and placed them aside.  George had finished peeling the yams. 

“Here peel and slice these,” she directed, giving George several carrots.  She cubed the yams and placed them in the sauté pan with the remaining onions and added the carrots when George was done, cooking them till they were slightly browned.  She added two cups of vegetable broth, a quarter cup of honey, some cinnamon, ground ginger, a cup of the pitted and chopped prunes and some salt and pepper.  She placed the entire mixture into the bottom of the tagine, covered it with the lid and put it into a 400º oven and baked it till the vegetables were tender.  When she lifted off the tagine lid the most delicate and intoxicating aromas filled the kitchen.  Samantha added the reserved onions and cooked the tagine for five minutes more.  She had toasted the sesame seeds and kept them aside to sprinkle over the tagine just before serving.

George commented as she took the tagine out of the oven for the last time.  “Wow that smells pretty damn good.”

Samantha nodded and acknowledged the obvious.  “Of course.”

There, hope you enjoyed that.  As you are aware food plays a major part in our lives and, speaking for myself, also in my writing.

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