So here we are, nearly a month into this thing we’re calling 2013. My greatest insight for the year (so far) is that thanks to the joys of online banking I’m no longer a victim of writing last year’s dates when I pay my utility bills. We’re living in the future, my friends!
Which is a nice segue for introducing today’s guest, Cassandra Rose Clarke, who has one of the best book titles I’ve ever seen! I refer of course to The Mad Scientist’s Daughter which comes out tomorrow. She’s also the author of a YA fantasy series, with one book out and the second scheduled for a summer release. Despite this frenetic pace, she’s found time to respond to this blog’s favorite question.
LMS: Welcome, Cassandra, and happy day-before-your-book-release. Now, on to business. Would you please tell us about your most memorable meal?
CRC: When I was in high school, I went on a school-sponsored trip to Italy and Greece. During the two hours I spent hanging out in the airport, waiting to begin my journey, I developed a migraine.
I’m not sure how much migraine symptoms vary from person to person, but the primary symptom for me (aside from the headache) has always been crippling nausea. I mean, I can’t eat anything if I’ve got a migraine. And the only way I’ve ever been able to get rid of them is by sleeping them off.
The flight, as you might expect, was terrible. I’ve never been able to sleep on airplanes (I once flew from Houston to Taiwan and didn’t sleep at all), and so the migraine never went away, only gradually intensified until it felt like a drill was boring into my skull. I couldn’t abide the smell of food, much less choke down the microwaved pasta the flight attendants were serving. By the time we disembarked in Rome, I thought I might actually die.
As it turned out, our hotel wasn’t in Rome at all, but thirty minutes away, in the countryside, and we had two hours to wait before another tour group joined us and we could leave. Fortunately, the tour bus was set up for us, so I was able to stretch out on the back seat and sleep.
I woke up a couple hours later to the bus bouncing along some Italian road, my migraine dispersed and my stomach rumbling. I was starving, since I hadn’t eaten anything for the equivalent of an entire day.
And so it began
The hotel, as I said, was situated in the countryside, and it provided no way to acquire food outside of mealtimes. I couldn’t walk to the store to pick something up because there was no store within walking distance, only rocks and little scrubby bushes. Dinner wasn’t served until nine o’clock (I probably woke up migraine-free around two o’clock) and the portions were tiny, especially for someone who hadn’t eaten a single bite of food for close to thirty hours.
Breakfast was continental. I could expound upon the worthlessness of continental breakfasts here, but I’ll abstain.
I figured lunch would be my salvation, since we were eating away from the hotel. But alas, our tour guide had us so overbooked that we only had time to grab some street food before being hustled along to view the next Roman monument on our checklist.
That night, the cycle repeated itself with another nine o’clock miniscule-portioned dinner. I was in Rome for three days, and there was never a moment when I wasn’t hungry. I ate regularly enough to avoid getting another migraine, but I was never satiated, and I got to the point where I couldn’t stop thinking about food. I’m pretty sure I dreamed about food, in fact.
And then we went to Greece.
We didn’t fly into Greece, but traveled by overnight ferry. The ferry served heaps of cafeteria-quality food (so, better than what I’d been in getting in terms of quantity, at least), but I couldn’t eat much of it, not because I wasn’t hungry (oh, I was), but because the waves were choppy and I got too seasick to even consider it.
Finally, we landed, disembarked, loaded up on the next tour bus. It was lunch time. I no longer believed in satisfying meals, that dream having been destroyed. So I wasn’t expecting much when the tour bus pulled up to a little restaurant tucked away on the side of the road. The exterior was pretty: built into an old house, surrounded by citrus trees and a flowering garden.
I ordered a roasted chicken quarter that was served with buttery potatoes and a salad. It wasn’t the most spectacular meal I’ve ever had, nor the most unique or unusual, but it was simple and delicious and, most importantly, filling. I wasn’t hungry when I finished eating, which hadn’t happened for days.
So that’s my most memorable meal, a grilled chicken plate served in a pretty Greek cottage on the side of the road. It may not sound like much, but it did exactly what food is supposed to do: provided me comfort and nourishment when I needed it.
Thanks, Cassandra. This is exactly why I will never travel to Italy and Greece as a high school student. Well, this, and the lack of a time machine.
Next Monday: Another author and another meal!
Tags: Eating Authors