One of the joys of traveling to the World Science Fiction Convention (and I try to go most years) is seeing old friends. Another is making new ones. This week’s EATING AUTHORS guests falls into that second category. Sonia Orin Lyris lives in Washington state, and somewhere in the midst of last summer’s 73rd WorldCon (aka Sasquan), between doing panels and attending readings and sneaking in some geocaching and enjoying some really fine restaurants — all of this happening under the smoke-filled skies and a bloody red sun that doubled for the eye of Sauron — I met Sonia, and we hit it off quite well as so often happens. And too, as is the way of such things, I’ve managed to forget who introduced us (though maybe someone will remind me in the comments below), but that’s not important. What’s important is that this talented writer who mostly works at shorter length had a novel coming out from Baen early in the new year; specifically, The Seer, tomorrow. So, naturally I invited her to drop by here and regale you with her most memorable meal.
My one regret is that I didn’t talk to her about chocolate. She’s something of an expert on the subject. I’m hoping she’ll be at Kansas City for this summer’s WorldCon and we can address this oversight.
LMS: Welcome, Sonia, and congratulations on the new book. Please tell me about your most memorable meal!
SOL: I used to live on 40 acres of pristine forest, much like what we saw in Lord of the Rings. Tall trees dripping old-man’s-beard and covered in lichen and moss, pines and alders, maples and thick ferns. The loam underfoot so thick your feet sank as you threaded your way through the bushes and trillium and bleeding hearts and wild ginger, trying not to step on that brick-red salamander that squirted out across the path.
Some of the acres were pastureland. I had chickens and ducks, dogs and cats, llamas and goats. At one point, a horse. At another, a pair of rams.
Through an odd set of coincidences, I acquired a breeding pair of emus.
I loved them. They are dinosaurs in the truest sense. Unlike our mini-almost-dinosaurs, chickens, and birds in general, they have not evolved over the last millions of years, but remain essentially unchanged for the last 40 million. To see them move, to hear the female drum with her long thin throat, is to know this in your blood.
I loved them, did I say? Yes, I did. I also took one of their fertilized eggs and raised an emu from first pip– first breaking out of the shell. (I have pictures galore!) I raised her to an adult. She was a handful.
A handful! No way I was going to do more than one. My girl — Roxie was her name — was going to be an only emu-child.
Ever seen an emu egg? Freshly laid, they are the color of unripe avocado, bright green, and half a foot end to end. They look so odd that they could have been something we had to send back to the prop department because they don’t look real. Something alien. A large green egg. Didn’t look real.
I don’t cook much, I have to tell you. I just don’t. It’s too much trouble, or I’m too lazy, or — there are some things from my childhood that I won’t go into. Short story: I don’t cook.
But I do know how to scramble eggs and apply heat. Add cheese. Some spices. I guess I do cook, a little. That I can do.
Yes, you know where this is going.
For months the boy and girl emu are getting it on, and there are eggs being produced all over, these amazing large green things, and I can’t let them all come to life. Just can’t.
An emu egg is a hard, hard thing. Yes, you can crack them, but it takes some doing; the shell is at least a millimeter thick.
But what you CAN do is drill a hole in both ends, blow out the goop, and have yourself a lovely egg shell. So I did that.
And I scrambled the egg. It was thick, so thick. Viscus and globby and rich, like — well, not like anything I’ve ever seen before. Jelly, almost. It took a lot of doing, scrambling that baby. And it took the huge pan to hold it all. I’d guess a single emu egg had the volume of about a dozen regular chicken eggs.
But there the similarity faded. The texture was thick, the resulting omelet was thick. The taste was rich and heavy, a touch gamey, even. Absolutely delicious.
I would have sworn I couldn’t eat a whole one myself, but one some occasions, I came pretty close. I mostly ate them by myself, because we lived so far away. Sometimes I would share. Mostly I would just… eat them. Myself.
It was wonderful.
Of course, the eggs that didn’t hatch, that sat there, that the boy emu sat on for months — yes, the boy sits the eggs with emus — those had to be thrown far far down the ravine, and even then the smell wafted back like a stink-bomb. Ugh!
But the ones I picked up fresh? Oh yes. Oh yes.
The meal I would repeat right now if I could.
Thanks, Sonia. I think I’m going to be haunted by the ghost of rotten, ravine-tossed emu eggs every time I’m out hiking.
Next Monday: Another author and another meal!
Tags: Eating Authors