Eating Authors: Jennifer Stevenson

1 Comment » Written on October 17th, 2011 by
Categories: Plugs
Jennifer Stevenson

Welcome to another installment of asking authors about their favorite meals. This feature was inspired by my protagonist, the Amazing Conroy, who in addition to being a stage hypnotist is also very much a foodie.

This week we visit with Jennifer Stevenson. Although she probably doesn’t realize it, Jennifer is responsible for putting me on my very first panel, back around 1990 or so. And, soon after, in the opening months of the KLI, gave me space on a local Chicago convention for the first bit of Klingon language programming (which exploded like none of us ever imagined).

Since then, Jennifer has moved from SMOF to Pro, with a number of fun (and at times, magical) romantic comedies, carving out her own niche with titles like Trash Sex Magic, and her trio of Chicago Urban Fantasies (The Brass Bed, The Velvet Chair, and The Bearskin Rug). It’s been more than a decade since we broke bread together (a pot luck at her home, with Rosemary and Gene Wolfe on hand), but she seemed like a good person to talk to about meals.

Trash Sex Magic
The Brass Bed
The Bearskin Rug
LMS: Okay, Jennifer, so tell me now, what’s your best, most memorable meal?

JS: What’s the most memorable meal I ever had?

Lordy, to someone who lives at least seventy percent of her life inside her own mouth, there’s no way to answer that with one single meal.

But here’s a sample: the first most memorable meal I remember eating.

Date: Summer, 1975. Location: the bank of the Coralville Reservoir in Coralville, Iowa. The sun shone. The barometric pressure was exhilarating. My then-brand-new boyfriend, Rich Bynum, had invited me to a picnic for all the staff and student-staff of Hancher Auditorium. Many of us wore tee-shirts reading “University of Iowa, Idaho City, Ohio.” Volleyball was played. Beer arrived in coolers balanced precariously on the laps of motorcycle drivers. I was seriously into this boyfriend, and was hoping to impress him with the creative use I had made of some cinnamon red-hots.

The tech director of Hancher, or “Skipper,” Chris Williams, an ex-Navy man, was on good terms with his ex-CO back in New London, Connecticut. This ex-CO put Skipper onto a company that would send us a couple of big tin cans containing (by volume) wet seaweed, steamer clams, and live lobsters. Jan Nebozenko showed up with a machete to cut firewood because, as he said, “When you’ve had a few beers, a machete is safer than an ax.”

Squaw wood was cut. A fire was built. Holes were dug in the bank under skipper’s fastidious and amused eye. Lots of manly measuring and tamping and so forth. Rocks were heated. The cans were lowered into the holes on top of the hot rocks. Dirt piled on the cans. Back to beer and volleyball.

About four p.m. Skipper’s wife says, “Honey, where’s the chicken?”

“Back home in the trailer, of course.”

”Oh shit,” Skipper’s wife says. “Where’s the butter?”

“Back home in the trailer, of course.”

“Honey,” Skipper’s wife says, “You left ten pounds of chicken and four pounds of butter on the counter in a hot trailer with five cats?”

Skipper tried to grin his way out of that one, but he ended up going home to find… well, you can only imagine. He brought back butter and chicken that had no lick-marks or cat hair on it, so we assumed he hit the store.

I had cold brew (Heineken, I think), steamer clams, barbecued chicken, and my very first fresh steamed lobster dipped in drawn butter, in the middle of Iowa, sitting beside the cutie who would become my husband. A memorable meal!

Oh, and Skipper served as our best man.

Thanks, Jennifer. You’ve restored my faith in the possibilities of shellfish in the midwest (and we’ll just let the whole question of the cinnamon red-hots go left unanswered, okay?).

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!



One Response to “Eating Authors: Jennifer Stevenson”

I was surprised and delighted to stumble upon this reminiscence of the Hancher Auditorium scene from way back. Jan now can always be found in top technical positions at some production on Broadway. I was not able to keep track of Chris Williams over the years. But aside from those picnickers, many other talented people and interesting performances passed through the Iowa City of that time, at that auditorium as well as the attached School of Music and the Art & Theater departments nearby; not to mention the co-located Rockefeller Foundation-initiated Centers there for New Music, and for New Performing Arts which flourished during those years. In the same period, W.P. Kinsella’s novel, Shoeless Joe, came right out of the UI Iowa Writer’s Workshop -and became Field of Dreams.
Sadly, Hancher Auditorium itself was ruined in the big Iowa floods of 2008 and is now slated for demolition. But a new Hancher will rise (literally: It is to be built on higher ground above future floods) where I hope another generation can learn their craft and enjoy the quality of music and theater that we all were so fortunate to experience in those days in 1970s and 1980’s. Gone but not forgotten.

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