Eating Authors: Jeannette Ng (Campbell Award nominee)

No Comments » Written on April 9th, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
Jeannette Ng

There are six names on the ballot for this year’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Katherine Arden, Sarah Kuhn, Jeannette Ng, Vina Jie-Min Prasad, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Rivers Solomon. I’ve reached out to all of them and with luck over the next several weeks you’ll get to read about their most memorable meals. And too, I hope you’ll go out of your way and read their fiction, because if you’re not already familiar with their work the odds are pretty good that you’ll be seeing a lot more from them.

First up here at EATING AUTHORS is Jeannette Ng. She’s the author of Under the Pendulum Sun, a novel that can be succinctly described as Victorian missionaries travel to Fairyland. She counts the writings of Jorge Luis Borges and the Brontë sisters among her influences, a combination which was all I needed to compel me to order a copy of her book.

Jeannette hails from Hong Kong and currently lives in Durham, UK. You can see the influence of her master’s degree in Medieval and Renaissance Studies in her fiction. It’s also surely fed her interest in both costuming and the LARPs she runs. What more could you ask for?

LMS: Welcome, Jeannette. Please share a memorable meal with us.

JN: Allow me to set a scene: smoky wood fire in a Tudor croft, porridge quietly steaming as it hangs low in the fire, shutters seamed with light, shut against a howling wind.

I am curled up by the fireplace, voices of various colourful characters discuss turnips and orc armies and slashed sleeve fashion above me. I wedge another block of wood under the grate. I nudge the dripping candle closer to the pan as it is underlit by the fire. I flip the bubbling flatbread.

These are the meals I helped cook whilst pretending to be a fantasy medieval peasant.

Under the Pendulum Sun

I’ve often written about my partner’s medieval cooking hobby and every meal Serve It Forth produces is memorable. However, this particular weekend sticks in my mind as we had very limited access to modern amenities. The game’s organisers had rented out the Anglo Saxon village and normally we work in the modern kitchen of the visitor’s centre. However, this weekend it was not available and we were stuck in the back room of the Tudor Croft.

Now we had brought frozen stew to reheat, as well as bread and Ember Day tart. We weren’t cooking everything from scratch in that kitchen.

But we were still catering an eighty-or-so person weekend-long event off two camping stoves and the fireplace in the front room. We had a sneaky hidden pipe that brought running water into the kitchen area, but there was no drainage so every bucket used had to be thrown into the ditch outside. We had a shining tower of tea urn that gave us hot water as long as we kept it filled with water. Never have I loved a kitchen appliance more. Hot water is the lifeblood of a catering kitchen.

And of course we were still making flatbread and porridge over the fire. Wearing my woolen kirtle, I tended the fire and stirred porridge. I rolled thin blob after blob of flatbread which I fried over a pan I oiled with a rag.

It was all my ridiculous childhood fantasies of being Cinderella come true, right down to the snuffling critters scampering about in the thatch above us at night. We slept on a straw mattress in the attic room. We woke up each morning to the song of the birds nesting there.

Thanks, Jeannette. When I think of Cinderella it’s usually the Disney film that comes to mind. Now I need to add flatbread, turnips, and orcs to my memory.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Liz Colter

No Comments » Written on April 2nd, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
Liz Colter

As I’ve noted previously on this blog, April 2nd is my personal academic holiday, or rather, it has been since 1987. For the past thirty-one years I’ve celebrated Doctoral Day, the anniversary of the successful defense of my dissertation. It was a major life-goal for me, or so it seemed at the time, but now it’s more than half of my lifetime in the past, and while its importance hasn’t dimmed, I see it now in the context of the bigger picture more as a stepping stone in the journey that’s been my life. Still, traditions are important, so please, celebrate with me. Salute those friends and colleagues (and yourself, if applicable) who have achieved terminal degrees. Bloviate. If you’re in academia and have tenure, bask in it. And if you’re still paying back those loans from grad school, well, try not to think about them, today at least.

Another, and much rarer, life event worth celebrating is winning the Writers of the Future contest, which is my clever segue for introducing you to Liz Colter (who did that very thing back in 2014), this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest.

Liz writes dark/weird/magic realism as well as contemporary fantasy under the name L. D. Colter, and uses L. Deni Colter for her epic fantasies. A novel-length example of the latter, The Halfblood War, is coming soon from WordFire Press. She recently saw her first book, A Borrowed Hell, re-released. That’s got to feel good.

LMS: Welcome, Liz. Can you share a few words about a memorable meal?

LC: Food lover that I am, it’s odd I can’t remember more specific meals than I do. There are a few that stand out, but on the whole when I try to conjure a favorite it’s the circumstances surrounding the meal combined with the food that makes it stick in my memory.

A Borrowed Hell

Surprisingly, one of my favorites was an unassuming cabbage dish (and, no, cabbage doesn’t normally top my list of preferred foods). I only remember red cabbage and a lot of butter, and that it was superb. Mushrooms and cheese were involved as well, but even though it sounds simple, I’m a dismal cook and I’ve never been able to duplicate the recipe. It was one of the tastiest meals I’ve had, but what makes it memorable is that the meal was enjoyed in England with my favorite uncle in his favorite pub. My husband, mother, and brother were there as well, and my mother had taken us all on the trip so that my husband could see England for the first time and meet my relatives, most especially my uncle. He was in his mid-nineties at the time, a retired doctor, still spry and in good health despite some long-term issues from having been a prisoner of war in WWII. Along with the excellent food, I remember the beautiful green pastures around Maidensgrove and the atmospheric 16th century pub with its low ceilings and dark furnishings. That night at the Five Horseshoes turned out to be the last time I enjoyed a meal with my uncle, as he passed away quite suddenly a few months later. I’ll always be glad that my husband got the chance to meet him, and for the memorable evening we all spent together.

Thanks, Liz. That sounds like the perfect snapshot of a meal, one that evokes flavorful food, extraordinary company, and an exquisite setting.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Jasmine Gower

No Comments » Written on March 26th, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
Jasmine Gower

Yet another snowstorm has come and gone, the fourth in as many weeks, reminding me of that classic SNL skit about March coming in like a lion. That said, I’ll be happy to get to April in another week, because surely then we can all agree that winter is over and get on with the vernal weather. Meanwhile, I’m awaiting (like so many others) the release of the Hugo Awards short list so I can reach out to this year’s Campbell Award nominees and lure them here to talk about some of their meals.

But before any of that can happen, we need to continue on with the final EATING AUTHORS installment of this month, which is segue enough to introduce you to Jasmine Gower. She’s one of the many speculative fiction authors who call Portland, Oregon home (seriously, what’s in the water there?). Her work frequently explores themes of disability, gender, and sexuality. Moreover, her website includes a page detailing trigger warnings and specifies areas such as sex, violence, health, and general phobias that are to be found in her books.

Her latest novel, Moonshine, came out last month. It’s a mash-up of 1920’s Chicago and forbidden magic. What’s a young woman who’s only trying to make her way in the big city to do when magical bounty hunters come looking for her, just because she inherited some old fashioned power from her grandmother?

LMS: Welcome, Jasmine. Tell me about your most memorable meal.

JG: In the autumn after I earned my Bachelor’s degree in English, my mother and I took a trip celebrating my graduation to the United Kingdom, spending two weeks between the London area, Edinburgh, and Cardiff. (We had hoped to swing by the Gower Peninsula but decided to stay an extra day in Cardiff.) Being Americans from well-assimilated families, most of our connection to the UK came from extensive genealogy research done by my uncle and a lingering family penchant for traditional British food, which seems to be hugely unpopular with Americans who did not grow up eating it. We spent the majority of our trip in Edinburgh, and on our first night there (after being warned about the highly suspect quality of Scotland’s take on Mexican food) decided to get dinner at a pub near our hotel called the Arthur Conan Doyle. We been eating at pubs all week so far, but that had been down in Amersham–now that we were in Scotland, it was time to try Scottish pubs.


The menu, then, wasn’t terribly surprising. One of their most prominent dinner entrees was haggis. In America, of course, haggis is derided as the most disgusting of all British foods, fit only for uncivilized highland barbarians. I don’t get a lot of chances to reconnect to my family’s Scottish roots and I couldn’t remember ever having seen haggis on a menu back home, so I put aside my American hang-ups and ordered the haggis, just to say I’d given it a try. The American vision of haggis is admittedly a bit nebulous–something about sheep intestines, no real concept of the flavor, and it’s maybe slimy or chewy or something. No one really puts much thought into their disgust toward haggis before declaring it, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

I was surprised, then, when the dish brought out was effectively just ground sausage, not terribly different in texture and seasoning from the pork-based dish in the US, with a pile of mashed sweet potatoes and mashed parsnips each on the side. But I tend to favor miscellaneous sheep parts to miscellaneous pig parts, and although I like sausage, I found that the flavor of haggis suited my tastes much better. Had the only reason I had never sampled this delicious dish been haggis’ negative reputation in the US?

Well, it turns out, no. There was one other significant reason, which I only found out a few years later thinking back on the dinner I had had in the Arthur Conan Doyle. I was back home in the US, wondering where I might be able to find a restaurant that served the elusive, unfairly maligned Scottish dish. In Portland, Oregon, we have plenty of British-style pubs, including ones with a specifically Celtic bent, and yet I couldn’t find one that included haggis on the menu. When Google Maps was no help in my search, I turned then to regular Google and discovered the true reason why I couldn’t find this legendary Scottish meal.

A Study of Fiber and Demons

Haggis is outlawed in the United States.

As it turned out, the United States banned the import of beef and sheep product from the UK back in the late 1980s during a mad cow disease scare, and one of haggis’ primary ingredients–sheep lung–remains banned to this day. And while you could still make haggis in the US with local sheep or by replacing the lung with some other ingredient, apparently few in the US seem inclined to try. Some Scottish ranchers and chefs seem to believe the US government is complicit in perpetuating targeted anti-Celtic legislation, and maybe this is true (historically, the US loves assimilationist legislation), but it’s probably more likely the result of some pork lobby in the US with a surprising amount of political clout trying to wedge out the competition. Whatever the reason, finding out that the delicious cultural dish I had sampled in Edinburgh was contraband in my home country was both a bit ridiculous and a bit outrageous.

And while I could certainly use any excuse available to me to go back to Scotland, I do wish I didn’t have to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to get another taste of this savory and tragically underappreciated meal.

Thanks, Jasmine. And now I know to blame the vast US pork lobby when conspiracy theories pop up. Perfect!

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Jason Franks

2 comments Written on March 19th, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
Jason Franks

Please pardon me for saying so, but Real Life has been kicking my ass of late. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but suffice to say that I’d really like things to calm down and let me catch my breath, maybe even get a little writing done.

In times of stress, most people tend to retreat into familiar routines. Fortunately, after more than 350 authors coming by to share tales of their meals, EATING AUTHORS is as welcome a diversion as comfort food. And so by way segue let me introduce this week’s guest, Jason Franks.

Jason writes a range of things, from comics to novels to code. His first book, Bloody Waters, was a finalist for the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel. And he’s never looked back.

He started the year releasing Faerie Apocalypse, telling stories of 21st century crossovers to and from the Faerie realm. It’s a long way from reading Edmund Spencer.

Jason’s next project is a graphic novella tentatively entitled “Gourmand Go,” which he describes as the ongoing adventures of a starship crew on a mission to boldly go; to seek out new life —and eat it. Basically, Star Trek cannibalism. Yeah, it’s like he’s writing it just for me!

LMS: Welcome, Jason. Talk to me about your most memorable meal.

JF: Tough question. I am tempted to talk about some meals I had where something funny happened, like the time I went for an early dinner in Istanbul. Because I was alone and the weather was awesome, I found a seat on the end of a long empty table on the terrace, so I could look at the Blue Mosque as dusk fell. It was a beautiful evening and I was enjoying the quiet when four police cars screeched up. A dozen cops climbed out and crowded into the restaurant. I was the only patron there but of course they came and sat down at my table, which was the only one big enough for all of them. The staff brought out glasses of tea for everyone, including me. The cops drank theirs and five minutes later, just as suddenly as they arrived, they got up, jumped back in their cars and drove away. I guess it was an emergency tea stop. If it was a regular event I think the restaurant staff would have moved me to another table. Or maybe they thought they just wanted to see what I would do.

Faerie Apocalypse

But the problem with that anecdote is that I don’t even remember what I ate.

Another fine meal that springs to mind one is the time my late great Aunt Celia Franca took me to La Strada on Bank Street in Ottawa, where I ate a moose fillet. It was a lovely dinner, but there’s not much meat on a story about dining out with an elderly relative.

So I guess I’m going to talk about hamburgers.

In 2011 I quit my job and I went to Japan with plans to propose to my girlfriend Yuriko (now my wife). I rented a furnished apartment in Yuri’s town in northern Japan for a few months, which I spent improving my language skills and writing fiction. On weekends, when Yuri was off work, we’d go on road trips, which usually involved seeing a gallery or a museum and eating at some off-the-beaten path restaurant, cafe or road station.

Now, I love Japanese food but I’m quite a big eater and I just don’t find it very filling. I think I’d been in-country for a good couple of months when the meal in question took place and I was hungry.

Bloody Waters

We were on the road and it was lunch time when we arrived at our destination: a cafe up in the woods that was kind of like a two-level tree house. We went in through the door and down the narrow, knotty staircase. Low ceilings. Everything made out of handcut wood. It was gorgeous and the food smelled amazing. The staff found us a tiny table and gave us menus and… there wasn’t a single dish that didn’t have pork in it. I’m Jewish and, while I’m not especially observant (see earlier comment about eating moose), I am phobic about eating pork. I felt a little bit of my soul break off and flutter away as we left the restaurant with empty bellies. No treehouse dining for you, Mr Franks!

Yuri and I got back in the car and drove back the way we’d come, passing through a town called Obihiro, which Yuri told me was famous for its beef. Yuri had heard about a place there so we pulled into a parking lot near the race track, where a pair of white-gloved senior citizens, who directed up to a parking spot, even though the lot was 3/4 empty. There was a horse race in progress, although few people were there to see it because the weather had turned bad. We trudged across the gravel through the drizzle to a micro-mall called Tokachimura, which contained a souvenir shop, a produce market, and a couple of cafes and restaurants. I was hungry and probably sulking about the tree house incident.


The place Yuri had heard about in the micro-mall was called Bistro Komni. Despite its name it was not a bistro, it was a kind of retro American diner at 3/4 scale. We sat at the counter. The menu was as you’d expect in such a place, so I ordered a hamburger, fries, and a coke. I wasn’t expecting anything much better than Mosburger takeaway fare, but, man alive, they served up an amazing meal.

I’m sure that my appetite on the day, coupled with a craving for some dirty Western food partly account for it, but I am also certain that they served me a perfect burger. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked and garnished. That burger was assembled with the painstaking craftsmanship for which Japan is famous, from the finest, freshest local ingredients. I had forgotten that Yuri told me that Obihiro was famous for its beef. It wasn’t a huge meal and I left the diner hungry for more–but blissfully sated on some existential level.

I have wanted to go back to Obihiro and eat there again ever since, but Yuri tells me that Bistro Komni has closed down. And so it has passed from memory into legend.

Thanks, Jason. You’re braver than me for ordering a burger at a horse track. And what’s this about moose not being kosher? Is it a hoof thing?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Kelly Robson

No Comments » Written on March 12th, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
Kelly Robson

And now for something completely different. Or, not. Well, kinda. You see, one of the policies I’ve always embraced on EATING AUTHORS has been a “one and done” that meant writers only got to come by once, to share the details of one meal. The focus has also been on authors of books (as opposed to those writing short stories for magazines or anthologies). The exception has been the annual round up (coming soon!) of Campbell Award nominees, many of whom had never had a novel or (more recently) standalone novella published, because it’s been my personal mission to see more attention given to that award. As such, it was bound to happen, a former Campbell nominee known for her short work has her first “book” coming out. And because it’s my blog I get to bend the rules and invite her back to share a second meal (and boost the signal for her new work).

Last month, Kelly’s novelette “A Human Stain” was nominated for a Nebula Award. Tomorrow, her novella Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach debuts from Friends and neighbors, humanoids of all flavors, please welcome Kelly Robson back to this blog.

LMS: Welcome back, Kelly. Tell me about another memorable meal.

KR: For Eating Authors last year, I told you about my most embarrassingly memorable meal. This time, I’ll go a bit more gourmet.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach

Alyx and I had just gotten off the overnight ferry from Athens to Crete, landing in Heraklion, which is nobody’s favorite Greek town. Heraklion was bombed to bits in World War II, and was rebuilt in the 50s as a warren of concrete low-rises. It’s not beautiful, but it’s a wonderful, vibrant, busy city. I adored Heraklion from the moment my feet hit the ground.

We were only there for one night. Like every other tourist, we visited the spectacular Minoan palace of Knossos and the Archaeological Museum, then it was time for a late lunch.

In Greece, eating is easy. There’s none of the constrained opening hours of Italy, where it’s impossible to get a meal between 3:00 and 8:00 PM. I adore Italy, but for Alyx and me, the perfect meal is served at 5:00 PM at the latest. This is not a problem in Greece. Sure, the locals eat after 10:00 PM, but they’re happy to feed tourists at whatever weird time they walk in.

The Archaeological Museum is surrounded by restaurants, but we were savvy tourists and knew to avoid the obvious choices. We entered the littlest alley off the square and five minutes of hiking through a residential district brought us to a quiet little family restaurant. Five tables served by the twelve year-old daughter of the family, with mom and dad in the kitchen. The only other customer was an ancient fellow dressed in black who looked like he’s just stepped out of the Middle Ages.

A Human Stain

Nobody spoke English, but a helpful customer had written up an English version of their menu on a piece of foolscap. We ordered snails, sardines, and beets. If you think that might not sound like the most inspiring meal, you’d be wrong. It was heaven.

The snails were brought to the table still simmering in a rosemary-lemon broth, dusted with some type of flour that didn’t dissolve in the broth, but added just the tiniest hint of crispy texture to the tender gastropod flesh. The juicy, caught-that-morning sardines had been grilled over an open flame that charred the skin crispy. The boiled beets were washed in olive oil, lemon, and herbs. All this served with warm, fluffy pita bread to soak up the juices.

To this day, even after having eaten gourmet meals in fancy restaurants around the world, this modest little meal of snails, sardines, and beets remains my one of most treasured memories.

Thanks, Kelly. While you and my wife may agree that “tender gastropod flesh” could ever be anything better than a good band name, in your place I’d have eaten the sardines and fed the beets to the snails.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Sue Burke

No Comments » Written on March 5th, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
Sue Burke

Whoosh, and it’s already March. Seriously? I’d have thought my cutting back on convention travel this year would have meant that time passed more slowly. Nope. Clearly a flawed premise. And as proof of the ol’ time and tide line, here’s another installment of EATING AUTHORS.

This weeks guest is Sue Burke, a journalist for forty years, translator, poet, and short story writer. Sue currently lives in Chicago and last month saw the publication of her first novel. Semiosis is a tale of first contact, alien plants, and language in all its vastness. This is my favorite kind of science fiction (okay, so I’m biased). It’s going to change the way you think about meaning and communication.

LMS: Welcome, Sue. What’s your most memorable meal?

SB: My most memorable meal is a mere snack – memorable for what it proved.

In the mid-1990s, my husband and I visited Paris, where we had a delightful time enjoying the art and history, two of our favorite things. Of course, one of the first stops we had to make was to visit the Eiffel Tower – to see for ourselves its astonishing size, understand more deeply its architectural and cultural importance, and enjoy the view. And we needed to be able to say we’d been there and done that. Who could visit Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower?

We were there in fall, though, and the weather was … autumnal. We spotted a little pastry café while we were up in the tower and thought we could get a snack there and brief shelter from the drizzle and wind. On the level just below, however, we had seen a souvenir stand with some disturbingly third-rate offerings, so we expected the food and hospitality to be on a par with a yellow foam-rubber replica of the tower. We were at a tourist trap, n’est-ce pas?


Instead, the café offered stereotypical French charm with a staff that welcomed a pair of slightly befuddled non-French-speaking tourists. I had arguably the finest cup of coffee and the finest apple pastry of my life, so good that I still remember them a couple of decades later: fragrant fresh coffee and especially flaky pastry surrounding not-too-sweet spiced apple slices, commonplace food made to standards of uncommon quality. It was not what I expected. (Sometimes it’s a relief to be proven wrong.)

Part of the duty of a good tourist is to be attentive and learn. We had heard, as everyone does, that the French put pride and care into their food. It turned out to be true. Even when they didn’t have to, they served a superb little repast. What did that tell us about the culture and the character? Why were they selling crappy souvenirs and perfect pastries almost side by side?

We puzzled over that as we ate, and we could reach no conclusion, which was part of the fun. We had done what tourists long to do: we had caught a glimpse of the real France. We’ll always have Paris – and the memory of a small perfect snack at a grand iconic place in a city that made sure it lived up to one of the best parts of its reputation.

Thanks, Sue. So much of human perception is defined by contrast. I wonder, perhaps the placement of that souvenir stand was deliberate, just to heighten the experience of the pastry?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Michael Moreci

No Comments » Written on February 26th, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
Michael Moreci

The past week has been a blur, owing in large part to the worst bout of flu that I’ve ever experienced as well as the news that I’d been nominated for a Nebula Award for my novella, Barry’s Deal. The mix has been chaotic, but fortunately for me, EATING AUTHORS is here to provide a touchstone and keep me on track.

And so, with no more segue than that, let me introduce you to this week’s guest, Michael Moreci. If you read comics, you’re probably already familiar with his work on a range of DC titles from Superman to Green Lantern, Wonder Woman to the Flash, as well as his own original and compelling series like Roche Limit and Burning Fields. And really, I’ve barely scratched the surface of his comics work.

Michael’s debut novel, Black Star Renegades, was released on January 2nd from St. Martin’s Press. It’s the tale of a guy with the weight of the galaxy on his shoulders and the “ultimate weapon” in his hand. Add in an evil empire, a few creatures, some exotic locations, and a cast of misfits, and you know you’re going to have a good time.

LMS: Welcome, Michael. What stands out for you as your most memorable meal?

MM: You know what’s funny? When I think about my most memorable meal, I honestly can’t recall what, exactly, I ate. Which sounds…weird. But when I think the best things in life — the things I’ve experienced — they’re about the comprehensive encounter, and that’s what I’m thinking when I consider my best meal. It wasn’t just the food, but everything that went into it.

That said, here goes:

Black Star Renegades

My wife and I got married ten years ago, and for our honeymoon we decided to travel to Montreal–Canada being the only foreign trip we could afford — by way of Burlington, Vermont. It was just a one-night stayover, but it was a memorable one. Because of, you guessed it, the food!

We went into Burlington knowing nothing about the city or the area. Neither of us had been there, neither of us knew a thing. All the wedding planning dominated our lives, so when it came to thinking beyond the big day, we had no focus. So, we went into Burlington with a few hours to burn and not a single thing in mind to do. We stayed at a bed and breakfast, and the kind woman who ran it offered us some advice: Eat dinner at a farm to table restaurant that was only a thirty minute drive away.

Now, we come from Chicago, and this was around the time where farm to table restaurants were kind of the rage. Plus, my wife is a chef, so we’re spoiled with the latest and greatest in culinary pretty regularly. With that in mind, while we were excited to try out the place we’d been directed to, we weren’t over the moon. Again, we were spoiled. I fully admit it.

But then we arrived at the location — which was an actual farm, and my mind was blown. I mean, here’s the thing: I was born in raised in Chicago, and my family — who had limited income — didn’t travel. Which means I was never exposed to much nature. Like, ever. Hand in hand with that is gazing up, say, on a camping trip and seeing stars. I never did that. I looked up at the sky over my house on the South Side and saw the haze left behind by the planes flying in and out of Midway Airport. Stars? Those were for country folk.

Roche Limit

Driving up to this farm in Vermont, I saw, for the first time in my life stars. A sky full of them, shining right above my head. I’d never seen anything like it in my entire life, and it was transcendent. Beautiful. Awe-inspiring.

And that was just the start of the dining experience at this restaurant, which only got better and better.

It’s weird, because like I said before, I don’t recall what I ate — not exactly. I believe the dish was beef-centric, of some kind? What mattered then and what especially matters now is the feeling the entire experience elicited. I don’t believe, until this point, that I’d ever eaten in farmhouse. And I’d certainly never eaten on the property of an isolated farm. As I look back on it all, I remember it being so peaceful. And I know — I know — I sound like a city slicker and all that. But being at this place, being wrapped up in stars like I’d never seen before, having just been married to the love of my life, it made the meal the most memorable of my life. And while I don’t remember the food, not specifically, I remember being brought course after course and being dazzled by each one. By the end I was completely full, utterly satisfied, and I was about to embark on the greatest journey of my life — the journey of being married to the best person I know.

Thanks, Michael. You know, it’s almost like we’re the same person (if I were a brilliant comics creator),
because I too was born on Chicago’s south side, married a chef, and count a nearby farmhouse restaurant as one of my best dining experiences. Go figure.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Gwendolyn Clare

1 Comment » Written on February 19th, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
Gwendolyn Clare

My apologies, but as I prepare this week’s EATING AUTHORS post I’m grappling with a fever, chills, aches, cough, mild hallucinations, and the certainty that someone has stuffed ground glass into my throat. So, I’m going to keep this introduction brief.

I’ve said it before and I hope to be get to say many times again, I really like using these blog posts to promote a writer’s first book. Why am I telling you this now? Because Gwendolyn Clare’s debut novel, Ink, Iron, and Glass, comes out tomorrow. It has mad scientists in it, what else could you possibly need to know?

Gwen lives in Central Pennsylvania and possesses a doctorate in Mycology (that’s the study of fungi, in case you weren’t sure). This strikes me as beyond cool (and not just because I recently wrote a story with algae). I’d tell you more about her but, 1) I can barely see to type, and 2) I really want you to get right into her most memorable meal because it is beyond awesome.

LMS: Welcome, Gwen. Talk to me about your most memorable meal.

GC: Since my debut novel takes place in Italy and stars a bunch of mad scientists, here’s an unforgettable meal involving both Italian food and Italian science.

One summer in college, I went on a field course to Italy through the Geophysical Sciences department at my university. We spent the majority of the trip in the Umbria-Marche region of central Italy; our home base was an old villa converted into a field station by an Italian geologist who seemed inordinately fond of yelling “Andiamo!” at American students.

One of our scheduled field trips was to visit a roadcut outside the small town of Gubbio. The strata of sedimentary rock exposed by that roadcut includes the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods, when dinosaurs went extinct. While the K-T boundary can be found in places all over the world, this particular inch-thick layer of clay yielded the samples which led rockstar-geologist Walter Alvarez to theorize that an astroid impact killed the dinosaurs.

Ink, Iron, and Glass

So we’re riding in our borrowed vans along the twisty, unlined country roads. We’re excited because we’re giant nerds, and for geologists seeing the Gubbio Layer is a bit like a film afficionado winning passes to visit a historic movie studio — this is where it all happened. We pull over to the side of the road and pile out of the vans only to find that there are people already visiting the site. An older Italian gentleman with a couple of grad students.

The gentleman, we quickly learn, is none other than Walter Alvarez.

He knows our host from the field station, and before any of us Americans can really believe what’s happening, we’re making lunch plans with the dude who discovered how the dinosaurs went extinct. While standing at the historic location that made the discovery possible. So many people have wanted to take a piece of the Gubbio Layer that the exposed rockface is deeply indented above and below the stratum — the sign of scientists and collectors chipping away at it over the years.

For the better portion of midday, we effectively colonize a nearby restaurant, sitting around one long chain of pushed-together tables so Alvarez can regale us with a firsthand account of his now-famous research.

The food itself was probably excellent. (All the food we ate in Italy was excellent. By that time we’d been spoiled by our nightly dinners, which were long multi-course meals served family style with the requisite local wine.) I believe the lunch was pizza, but I wouldn’t swear on it — when you’re at lunch with your hero, you’d hardly notice if they served you sawdust.

Alvarez made scientific discovery sound wonderous — even magical. And the magic of science is what the Ink, Iron, and Glass universe is all about.

Thanks, Gwen. You now tie with Gregory Benford for having the most nerdgasmic meal story in the history of this blog.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!