Eating Authors: Emmie Mears

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Emmie Mears

Not only is it yet another Monday, but it’s the Monday marking the final day of the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention (aka, LonCon3), which means it’s also the day after the Hugos. Congratulations to Ann Leckie, Charlie Stross, Mary Robinette Kowal, and John Chu for their respective fiction wins, and to Sofia Samatar, for being the latest recipient of the Campbell Award (may you wear your tiara with pride). And of course, kudos to the finalists as well. Speaking as a past Hugo-Loser, this is one of those times when that stuff about “it’s an honor just being nominated” actually rings true.

Also, a hearty congratulations to Kansas City, Missouri,which has won the privilege and pain of running the 74th Worldcon (to be known as MidAmeriCon II). Save the dates: August 17 – 21, 2016.

Phew! Okay, let’s get to today’s EATING AUTHORS guest. Appropriately enough, I first met Emmie Mears at a dinner party, at a convention no less. She self-identifies as an Urban Fantasy Author, a Geek, a Gamer, and an Explorer. Her debut novel, The Masked Songbird, comes out on September 1st from Harlequin.

Emmie is also one of the forces behind the Searching for Superwomen hub, an ever-evolving conversation on women and their many roles in Geek culture. But don’t take my word for it, click the link and check it out yourself.

LMS: Welcome, Emmie. Let’s talk about your most memorable meal.

EM: The moment I heard “most memorable meal,” one sprang to mind like it’d been laying in wait.

Back in 2007 when I lived in Kraków, Poland, my gaggle of European friends expressed an intrigued sort of desire to witness a Real American Thanksgiving. Naturally, the other American-raised personage in our group and I couldn’t deny them, so we set out to throw a Real American Thanksgiving for the benefit of our beloved friends. Iza and I gathered recipes in the weeks leading up to the holiday started compiling a shopping list.

Certain items were pretty easy to find: wine, spices, apples, flour, ham, honey, potatoes, green beans. Others proved rather difficult, like cranberries and pumpkins.

And, to our dismay, turkey.

A week before Thanksgiving, my best friend Julia flew in for my birthday, and she — being Canadian — was rather amused by the whole kerfuffle. Iza and I threw ourselves into preparation and the gathering of items for the dinner, while Julia and our friends happily compiled heaps of balloons to make papier mâche turkeys as decorations.

As the Wednesday before Thanksgiving arrived, however, those bits of floppy rubber turkeys-to-be were thus far the closest items we had in our possession resembling the guest of honor.

Iza and I went to the little butcher shops — they told us to go to the big supermarkets.

We went to Tesco — they told us to try the little butcher shops.

The Masked Songbird

We ran all over Kraków and Nowa Huta searching in vain for a whole turkey. There were plenty of BITS of turkey to be found — a pack of thighs here, some breasts there. But nowhere in the city could anyone tell us where to find a whole turkey in one piece.

The night before Thanksgiving, Iza went out on a date with her hairdresser, Radek, who ended up taking her to a shisha bar (that’s hookah this side of the pond, for the uninitiated). She regaled Radek and his friends with the tale of the already-failing Real American Thanksgiving to much amusement (and coughing on flavored tobacco).

Iza arrived at my flat at 6:30 in the morning Thanksgiving day. Both of us were bleary-eyed and uncaffeinated, so when her phone rang, we thought it had to be a mistake. She answered.

“Tak, słucham,” she said automatically in Polish.

“Iza. Mam indyka.”

I could hear Radek’s voice through the phone, and I stopped where I stood and stared, wondering if I’d heard him right.

She hung up a moment later, eyes wide, and confirmed what Radek had said with James Bond-esque urgency. “Iza. I have a turkey.”

“How?” I asked when she hung up.

“I have no idea.*”

Thirty minutes later, Radek showed up outside our friends’ flat with a twenty plus pound turkey, dropped it into our arms, and sped away in his little Polski Fiat.

Iza and I lugged it upstairs and dumped it on the counter with a thud. It was frozen solid. Our eyes met over that frozen turkey that had been delivered, quite literally, to our doorstep, and I wish I could say we burst out laughing, but I think both of us were so befuddled by the bird’s sudden appearance that we had absolutely no idea what would constitute an appropriate response.

Thawing that monstrosity of a turkey ended up not being as difficult as we expected, and after a couple hours of running warm water into the cavity of the beast, we’d managed to get it nice and supple and stuffed. Our friends were so curious about the goings-on of the kitchen that we eventually had to chase them out with potato peelers and pelt them with strands of apple peel to make them all leave.

They turned, quite logically, to their papier mâche turkeys, gleefully getting covered in glue in the living room.

I remember almost nothing about the actual dinner. What I remember is Julia and I burning the walnuts on top of our glazed ham and having to very carefully tote it two blocks from my flat to Adam’s. I remember sipping a huge glass of much-needed mulled wine and laughing at the bulbous balloons with wings glued onto their sides. I remember the fact that Iza and I threw together a meal for almost twenty people, starting with that miraculous frozen behemoth of a turkey.

And every Thanksgiving now, I can’t see a turkey without thinking, “Iza. Mam indyka.”

* If you’re curious as to the origins of the turkey, turns out Radek drove two hours outside of Kraków to a small farm between there and Częstochowa, where he purchased this turkey for us and carted it back to the city. I don’t know about you, but that sure as hell beats a bouquet of flowers after a first date.

Thanks, Emmie. I suspect it didn’t actually happen this way, but I have this image in my head of Radek with a freshly slaughtered turkey in his lap, plucking out its feathers over the course of the two hour drive back to Kraków. Please don’t tell me I have it wrong.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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