Our guest this week is Beth Cato, and you’ve probably been reading her work for years without knowing it. She’s written inspirational essays for nearly a dozen of the Chicken Soup for the Soul volumes, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers: 101 Motivational Stories for Writers – Budding or Bestselling – from Books to Blogs, which really brings things full circle in a way.
Beth has also written short stories for a long list of anthologies (such as a wonderful piece that I bought and published in the pages of Cucurbital 3). She has a great voice, and I encourage you to go out and read her work.
But neither soup nor short fiction is why she’s here gracing this blog today. We’re all about novels here, and tomorrow marks her formal transformation as a shiny new novelist with the launch of her first book, The Clockwork Dagger, from Harper Voyager. It’s action and adventure with assassins and airships, spies and steampunk, and much more. Buy a copy now and boost her release day sales; we’re going to want to ensure that her publisher demands more books from her.
LMS: Welcome Beth. What better way to commemorate your first novel than by telling us about your most memorable meal?
BC: I’m a total foodie. Every Wednesday on my blog, I share a new recipe in a feature I call Bready or Not. I bake all my own bread. I prowl Yelp for restaurants to try. On an Alaskan cruise last year, I delighted in every meal–and especially in the desserts. I love trying new things.
My most memorable meal isn’t that crazy or fancy, though. It’s pizza from a Central California chain called Me-N-Ed’s, and it’s a memorable meal I recreate every time I go back home.
See, when I was growing up, we were pretty poor. Some years were worse than others. When we had the money to order pizza, we went to a cheap, local place that was pretty much one step above grocery store freezer pizza. We had a Me-N-Ed’s in town but rarely went there. It was just too expensive for us, but we’d always drive by and stare wistfully.
I married my Navy sailor husband at twenty, and did what Navy wives do–I moved across country to South Carolina, then Washington state. I craved the foods that I considered to be part of home. Our visits to California were rare. We scraped by on an enlisted man’s salary, but by golly, when we returned to Hanford, I wanted to eat Me-N-Ed’s Pizza. So we did just that.
My husband escaped the Navy and we settled down in Arizona. It’s about an eight hour drive to my parents’ house, but we try to make the trip once or twice a year. Our tradition is established at this point. We arrive at the house. We haul in the luggage, watch our son run around, and then we order pizza.
Where we live near Phoenix, we have a number of really good pizza places. I can’t say that Me-N-Ed’s is the very best of them all–I actually prefer breadier crusts at most places–but Me-N-Ed’s has an advantage: they taste like home. The crust is fairly thin with a cracker-like crunch like lavosh, but the edges are doughy and golden with magnificent bubbles. The cheese is the good California stuff, and the inclusion of linguica with their meat combination is another reminder that I’m home and surrounded by amazing Portuguese food (a trip to a local Portuguese bakery to buy sweet bread will likely be part of my visit as well). Me-N-Ed’s pizza has a particular smell that’s part meat and cheese and part semolina flour and oil on hot cardboard. It’s delicious. It’s happiness. It means I’m home.
Thanks, Beth. And, just between you and me, I think a good pizza does a lot more for the soul than any bowl of chicken soup. I’m just sayin’.
Next Monday: Another author and another meal!
Tags: Eating Authors