Eating Authors: Carol Berg

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Carol Berg

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, which for me is loaded with meaning far beyond automotive snakes and green beer. Today would have been my paternal grandfather’s hundredth-something birthday, as well as my parents’ wedding anniversary. It’s also the anniversary of the passing of Ghang, my dog of eighteen years (and the unconscious inspiration for a quarter million words of fiction). I’m typically awash in bittersweet memories on this day, and I suspect today will be little different, though at times I’ll be quite busy as I’m away in New York for some hypnosis training.

But never mind all that, you’re not here to read about me; let’s get on to the main feature. My guest this week is a writer of Fantasy novels, and she’s quite good at them. Carol Berg has won the Mythopoeic Award (for her The Lighthouse Duet, Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone), several Colorado Book Awards (for Song of the Beast, The Soul Mirror, as well as the afore-mentioned Breath and Bone), and the Geffen Award for Best Translated Fantasy (for Transformation, the first book of her Rai-Kirah series). Other works include her Bridge of D’Arnath and Novels of the Collegia Magica series.

LMS: Welcome, Carol, thanks for being here. So tell me, what’s your most memorable meal?

CB: Asking for my most memorable meal is like asking a duck about its most memorable pond. Mmmm… rummaging through a lifetime of food…

Flesh and Spirit

I don’t think it will be lovely continental food, although one of my sons attended university in France for a year, and we ate three weeks of fabulous meals, one right after the other, on our trip to haul him and his stuff home.

And it’s probably not exotic eastern food, though I was fortunate enough to be the guest of honor at ICon in Tel Aviv a few years ago, and joining wonderful new friends on a rooftop to eat a perfect Middle Eastern meal on a golden afternoon in Jerusalem is pretty close to someone’s idea of heaven. (Almost enough to forget the tension down on the ground.)

And then there was the twelve-course feast at the Orchid Pavilion in Boulder, Colorado on the evening one of my sons married a lovely young woman from China. The chef had a soft spot for the bride, and I’ve never put so many marvelous flavors in my mouth on one evening.

The Spirit Lens

If you get right down to basics, it might turn out to be comfort food. I’m fortunate to have grown up in a family of wonderful Southern cooks, and I can only aspire to match my mom’s pot roast, mashed potatoes, and holy gravy (where I came from, gravy was a food group) or my dad’s barbecue chicken or my brother-in-law’s fresh-caught East Texas bass. And there is little better than ANY food from New Orleans, especially the jambalaya, gumbo, and hot wings at my oldest son’s college graduation party. He played tenor sax and one of his local gigs, outside of school, was playing with a real New Orleans brass band. They gave him the party and supplied the food.

Transformation

But you said most memorable, right? Maybe it was that meal in August 1971, when my husband and I were taking a year’s delayed honeymoon. He had just gotten his masters and a month later received his draft notice, and we were determined to get to the mountains before he had to go to Vietnam or Officer Candidate School, whichever fell out first. We had both grown up in Texas, gone to college in Houston, and had an idea that mountain camping must be just the best way to cool off in the summer. So we headed north in our MGB – only to have the car quit about fifty miles outside Amarillo, ie. the dead center of nowhere. After ten days, a hundred dollars, and a lot of hours to put in the new engine (courtesy of some old neighbors who happened to live in Amarillo and who had a son with access to a shop and tools) we took off north again. And at last we pitched our pup tent on a mountainside high in the Rockies. Just us. Just a campfire, one pot, one spoon, and a can of chili, and a view to match anything on earth. It was the first of decades of camping meals – all of them much, much better food. But it was perfect.

Thanks, Carol. You’re not the first (and surely, not the last) of guests who have found a simple meal around a campfire outshines more polished affairs. Maybe there’s something in that woodsmoke…

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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