Eating Authors: Jay Lake

1 Comment » Written on August 1st, 2011 by
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Jay Lake

Welcome to another installment of asking authors about their favorite meals. Because I never know when I might need to have the Amazing Conroy steal one of these ideas.

Our gourmand this week is Jay Lake. It feels like I’ve known Jay for ages. He’s been my editor, and I’ve been his. To say he’s prolific is like saying the sky is blue. Jay’s a past winner of the Campbell Award, and has received multiple nominations for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. He’s a very busy fellow, but I’m pleased to say that we usually manage a meal when he comes through town. Pinion, the third volume in his Clockwork Earth trilogy (the first two being Mainspring and Escapement) recently came out in paperback (so you have no excuse not to own a copy). Endurance, the sequel to his startling novel Green, debuts in November. Somewhere out there though, is the third volume in his City Imperishable series. That’s what I want to see on the schedule soon.

Alembical

LMS: Jay, you and I have chowed down together for some fine dining — I’m thinking those amazing lamb chops at that fancy place in L.A — and we’ve tucked in at an airport hotel restaurant. Our tastes differ, markedly at times, but I know you’re a foodie. What’s been your most memorable meal?

JL: The best meal I remember having, ever, was somewhere in the late 1990s in a small, long-gone Portland restaurant called Cafe Lena. This was before I’d moved to the Pacific Northwest from Texas, and at the time I was in town visiting my sister. We stopped there for lunch on a whim. It was a little place with mostly hippie food. (I cracked up the waitress by asking solemnly if the vegan vegetable soup was made with real vegans or artificial vegans.) They had a chalkboard special of chicken breast with lemon-brie sauce.

Pinion

Endurance

The chicken was a perfectly good cut of breast meat that had been soaked in lemon juice and black pepper and nicely grilled. I don’t even remember what the sides were. But that sauce… Image a truly world-class Hollandaise that had been mugged by the inmates of a fromagerie. Except richer. And yummier. And incredibler than that.

I have eaten truly fine meals from Las Vegas to Chengdu. I have been treated to, served, and even occasionally cooked exquisite food. But that lemon-brie sauce was like nothing I’ve eaten before or since, and made that lunchtime at Cafe Lena something I can recall vividly fifteen years later as if I had just set down my fork.

Thanks, Jay. This one’s going to haunt me. You know, there’s a story idea in there, something about the ghosts of restaurants past…

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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