Eating Authors: Jason Franks

2 comments Written on March 19th, 2018 by
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Jason Franks

Please pardon me for saying so, but Real Life has been kicking my ass of late. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but suffice to say that I’d really like things to calm down and let me catch my breath, maybe even get a little writing done.

In times of stress, most people tend to retreat into familiar routines. Fortunately, after more than 350 authors coming by to share tales of their meals, EATING AUTHORS is as welcome a diversion as comfort food. And so by way segue let me introduce this week’s guest, Jason Franks.

Jason writes a range of things, from comics to novels to code. His first book, Bloody Waters, was a finalist for the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel. And he’s never looked back.

He started the year releasing Faerie Apocalypse, telling stories of 21st century crossovers to and from the Faerie realm. It’s a long way from reading Edmund Spencer.

Jason’s next project is a graphic novella tentatively entitled “Gourmand Go,” which he describes as the ongoing adventures of a starship crew on a mission to boldly go; to seek out new life —and eat it. Basically, Star Trek cannibalism. Yeah, it’s like he’s writing it just for me!

LMS: Welcome, Jason. Talk to me about your most memorable meal.

JF: Tough question. I am tempted to talk about some meals I had where something funny happened, like the time I went for an early dinner in Istanbul. Because I was alone and the weather was awesome, I found a seat on the end of a long empty table on the terrace, so I could look at the Blue Mosque as dusk fell. It was a beautiful evening and I was enjoying the quiet when four police cars screeched up. A dozen cops climbed out and crowded into the restaurant. I was the only patron there but of course they came and sat down at my table, which was the only one big enough for all of them. The staff brought out glasses of tea for everyone, including me. The cops drank theirs and five minutes later, just as suddenly as they arrived, they got up, jumped back in their cars and drove away. I guess it was an emergency tea stop. If it was a regular event I think the restaurant staff would have moved me to another table. Or maybe they thought they just wanted to see what I would do.

Faerie Apocalypse

But the problem with that anecdote is that I don’t even remember what I ate.

Another fine meal that springs to mind one is the time my late great Aunt Celia Franca took me to La Strada on Bank Street in Ottawa, where I ate a moose fillet. It was a lovely dinner, but there’s not much meat on a story about dining out with an elderly relative.

So I guess I’m going to talk about hamburgers.

In 2011 I quit my job and I went to Japan with plans to propose to my girlfriend Yuriko (now my wife). I rented a furnished apartment in Yuri’s town in northern Japan for a few months, which I spent improving my language skills and writing fiction. On weekends, when Yuri was off work, we’d go on road trips, which usually involved seeing a gallery or a museum and eating at some off-the-beaten path restaurant, cafe or road station.

Now, I love Japanese food but I’m quite a big eater and I just don’t find it very filling. I think I’d been in-country for a good couple of months when the meal in question took place and I was hungry.

Bloody Waters

We were on the road and it was lunch time when we arrived at our destination: a cafe up in the woods that was kind of like a two-level tree house. We went in through the door and down the narrow, knotty staircase. Low ceilings. Everything made out of handcut wood. It was gorgeous and the food smelled amazing. The staff found us a tiny table and gave us menus and… there wasn’t a single dish that didn’t have pork in it. I’m Jewish and, while I’m not especially observant (see earlier comment about eating moose), I am phobic about eating pork. I felt a little bit of my soul break off and flutter away as we left the restaurant with empty bellies. No treehouse dining for you, Mr Franks!

Yuri and I got back in the car and drove back the way we’d come, passing through a town called Obihiro, which Yuri told me was famous for its beef. Yuri had heard about a place there so we pulled into a parking lot near the race track, where a pair of white-gloved senior citizens, who directed up to a parking spot, even though the lot was 3/4 empty. There was a horse race in progress, although few people were there to see it because the weather had turned bad. We trudged across the gravel through the drizzle to a micro-mall called Tokachimura, which contained a souvenir shop, a produce market, and a couple of cafes and restaurants. I was hungry and probably sulking about the tree house incident.

Sixsmiths

The place Yuri had heard about in the micro-mall was called Bistro Komni. Despite its name it was not a bistro, it was a kind of retro American diner at 3/4 scale. We sat at the counter. The menu was as you’d expect in such a place, so I ordered a hamburger, fries, and a coke. I wasn’t expecting anything much better than Mosburger takeaway fare, but, man alive, they served up an amazing meal.

I’m sure that my appetite on the day, coupled with a craving for some dirty Western food partly account for it, but I am also certain that they served me a perfect burger. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked and garnished. That burger was assembled with the painstaking craftsmanship for which Japan is famous, from the finest, freshest local ingredients. I had forgotten that Yuri told me that Obihiro was famous for its beef. It wasn’t a huge meal and I left the diner hungry for more–but blissfully sated on some existential level.

I have wanted to go back to Obihiro and eat there again ever since, but Yuri tells me that Bistro Komni has closed down. And so it has passed from memory into legend.

Thanks, Jason. You’re braver than me for ordering a burger at a horse track. And what’s this about moose not being kosher? Is it a hoof thing?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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2 comments “Eating Authors: Jason Franks”

Thanks a lot Jason, now I want to go to Bistro Kommi for a burger and you tell me it no longer exists. Guess I’ll have to go to the tree house instead when I finally get to Japan someday.

Great story.


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