Eating Authors: Jenna Black

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This is my first full week back in the Philadelphia area, after taking a couple weeks away out on the west coast. As such, it seems only appropriate (as a I grope around for a segue) to welcome this week’s guest, Jenna Black, who used to live in Philadelphia before relocating North Carolin’s Research Triangle.

Jenna is a triple-threat, a status that I think many authors aspire to, so that whatever area of genre fiction happens to be enjoying a surge in popularity, she’s got it covered. Jenna has novels in the sub-genres of paranormal romance (the Guardians of the Night series and current stand-alone Prince of Air & Darkness), urban fantasy (the Morgan Kingsley and Nikki Glass series), and young adult fantasy (her Faeriewalker series, and Replica, the first book in a new series).

She is also a self-described “experience junkie,” having traveled to all seven continents (including Antarctica), sung barbershop, and become a Life Master in Bridge. As is almost always the case with a writer, it’s all grist for the mill of Jenna’s fiction.

LMS: Welcome, Jenna. I won’t ask you to pick between Pat’s and Geno’s cheese steaks, but can you tell us about your most memorable meal?

Replica

JB: When I was in college, my mother decided to take advantage of a low-cost vacation package: a weekend in Paris. Yes, one weekend. It makes me tired even thinking about it. We flew out of Philadelphia on a Friday, had Saturday and Sunday in Paris, and then flew home on Monday. It was during my winter break, and Paris was all decked out for Christmas. Unfortunately, it was also cold and rainy the whole time we were there. Suffering from jet lag, we nonetheless were determined to see and do everything possible during our short stay, and so the minute we arrived, we started sightseeing. We didn’t have long at any one place — I mean, you could easily spend an entire weekend just at the Louvre, but we sped through in only a few hours — and the pace was exhausting. We refused to waste any time resting or napping, using every possible hour to see as much as possible.

One of the places we visited, of course, was Notre Dame, and when we were there, we saw flyers for a free Christmas concert that very night. How could we resist going to a free Christmas concert at Notre Dame, right? Even though we were exhausted from insane amounts of walking and from jet lag.

Watchers in the Night

We packed ourselves into the cathedral, which was naturally mobbed, and it was as wonderful as you would expect. When we left, it was time for dinner. But it was also raining, and our feet were tired, and have I mentioned jet lag? We started walking, figuring we’d have no trouble finding a fabulous restaurant. This was Paris, after all. We weren’t looking for any place in particular, just some place that looked like it would serve decent French food (we figured there was no point in eating something like Italian food when we were in Paris) and wasn’t so crowded we couldn’t get in. We walked, and walked, and walked, in the cold and rain, and we couldn’t find any place that fit the bill. Finally, we decided we’d just stop at the next restaurant we came upon, no matter what it was. We were so cold and wet and tired!

We had somehow managed to wander onto Île Saint-Louis, and the next restaurant we stumbled upon was a tiny little place called Auberge de la Reine Blanche. (You can see lots of pictures if you click on that link.)

Dark Descendant

It was tiny. It was quaint. And we were lucky that one of the six or seven tables was empty. We gratefully took our seats, not even knowing what kind of food to expect, except that based on the restaurant name, it was probably French. The menu confirmed our assumption, and we both ordered coq au vin. The restaurant was beautiful and historic, and so small it felt almost like we were guests at someone’s house. And when the food came, it was the best coq au vin either one of us had ever eaten. That we ended up there merely because it was the first place we came to after we’d reached the end of our endurance, when we would have settled for a pizza joint if that was what we found, is kind of amazing. It was a meal that I still remember almost thirty years later, on a night that was truly magical. The place was definitely off the beaten track when we went there, but I think it’s much more well-known these days. Although based on the pictures, it’s just as tiny. But if you’re ever in Paris, I highly recommend you try it out.

Thanks, Jenna. I truly believe in serendipity when it comes to finding amazing restaurants when you’re stumbling along at the limits of your endurance. Glad to learn it’s not just me.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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