Eating Authors: Kelly Robson

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Kelly Robson

And now for something completely different. Or, not. Well, kinda. You see, one of the policies I’ve always embraced on EATING AUTHORS has been a “one and done” that meant writers only got to come by once, to share the details of one meal. The focus has also been on authors of books (as opposed to those writing short stories for magazines or anthologies). The exception has been the annual round up (coming soon!) of Campbell Award nominees, many of whom had never had a novel or (more recently) standalone novella published, because it’s been my personal mission to see more attention given to that award. As such, it was bound to happen, a former Campbell nominee known for her short work has her first “book” coming out. And because it’s my blog I get to bend the rules and invite her back to share a second meal (and boost the signal for her new work).

Last month, Kelly’s novelette “A Human Stain” was nominated for a Nebula Award. Tomorrow, her novella Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach debuts from Tor.com. Friends and neighbors, humanoids of all flavors, please welcome Kelly Robson back to this blog.

LMS: Welcome back, Kelly. Tell me about another memorable meal.

KR: For Eating Authors last year, I told you about my most embarrassingly memorable meal. This time, I’ll go a bit more gourmet.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach

Alyx and I had just gotten off the overnight ferry from Athens to Crete, landing in Heraklion, which is nobody’s favorite Greek town. Heraklion was bombed to bits in World War II, and was rebuilt in the 50s as a warren of concrete low-rises. It’s not beautiful, but it’s a wonderful, vibrant, busy city. I adored Heraklion from the moment my feet hit the ground.

We were only there for one night. Like every other tourist, we visited the spectacular Minoan palace of Knossos and the Archaeological Museum, then it was time for a late lunch.

In Greece, eating is easy. There’s none of the constrained opening hours of Italy, where it’s impossible to get a meal between 3:00 and 8:00 PM. I adore Italy, but for Alyx and me, the perfect meal is served at 5:00 PM at the latest. This is not a problem in Greece. Sure, the locals eat after 10:00 PM, but they’re happy to feed tourists at whatever weird time they walk in.

The Archaeological Museum is surrounded by restaurants, but we were savvy tourists and knew to avoid the obvious choices. We entered the littlest alley off the square and five minutes of hiking through a residential district brought us to a quiet little family restaurant. Five tables served by the twelve year-old daughter of the family, with mom and dad in the kitchen. The only other customer was an ancient fellow dressed in black who looked like he’s just stepped out of the Middle Ages.

A Human Stain

Nobody spoke English, but a helpful customer had written up an English version of their menu on a piece of foolscap. We ordered snails, sardines, and beets. If you think that might not sound like the most inspiring meal, you’d be wrong. It was heaven.

The snails were brought to the table still simmering in a rosemary-lemon broth, dusted with some type of flour that didn’t dissolve in the broth, but added just the tiniest hint of crispy texture to the tender gastropod flesh. The juicy, caught-that-morning sardines had been grilled over an open flame that charred the skin crispy. The boiled beets were washed in olive oil, lemon, and herbs. All this served with warm, fluffy pita bread to soak up the juices.

To this day, even after having eaten gourmet meals in fancy restaurants around the world, this modest little meal of snails, sardines, and beets remains my one of most treasured memories.

Thanks, Kelly. While you and my wife may agree that “tender gastropod flesh” could ever be anything better than a good band name, in your place I’d have eaten the sardines and fed the beets to the snails.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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