Eating Authors: Kevin Wohler

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Kevin Wohler

If you’re reading this Monday morning, please know that I am in a state of quantum indeterminacy, which is to say I should be flying home from Vancouver, Canada on a red eye flight that left the west coast on Sunday just before midnight and doesn’t deliver me to Philadelphia until nearly noon today. Of course if you’re reading this after twelve o’clock then someone has already opened the door and knows the health of the cat.

Regular readers of my blog will know that at the beginning of the month I embarked on a dietary journey into the unknown, declaring my new allegiance as a pescetarian. It’s going okay so far, but I mention it now because this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Kevin Wohler, is here to tell you about a revelatory experience involving seafood, and I can relate.

Kevin is the author of The Alchemist’s Notebook, the first book in The Village Alchemist series. The sequel, The Alchemist’s Stone, should be coming your way this spring.

There’s not much else I know to tell you about Kevin. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas, but I don’t hold that against him as I don’t know whether or not he attended KU (I did my grad work at rival school KSU in Manhattan, Kansas) so I’ll just pretend he lives in a city that bears my name. But I’m warning you, Kevin, if I find out you’re secretly a Jayhawk, it’s on!

LMS: Welcome, Kevin. What’s your most memorable meal?

KW: My most memorable meal? That would have been in Savannah, Georgia, about twenty years ago.

I’ve always been a fan of seafood, but shrimp is my guilty pleasure. Whether fried or boiled, sautéed or grilled, shrimp is at the top of my list as an appetizer or side dish. But it took a trip to the coast for me to discover shrimp could be a meal on its own.

The Alchemist's Notebook

Back in the nineties, one of my friends moved to Georgia. I took a short vacation and drove halfway across the country to visit her and we decided to visit Savannah for the weekend.

After checking in at our hotel, finding dinner became our top priority. We talked to the concierge, and requested a good restaurant. “Somewhere the locals go,” I said. We wanted local atmosphere and Savannah’s finest cuisine. The concierge nodded and pulled out a small map onto which she drew a number of lines that connected our hotel to an X alongside the Herb River.

We drove off, not really sure we’d be able to find the restaurant. But we did. Nestled beneath trees filled with Spanish moss, Pearl’s Elegant Pelican awaited us.

The hostess seated us by a window in the back of the restaurant, where we had a gorgeous view of the water. The atmosphere alone would have made the night memorable, but when I saw the menu I knew dinner would be truly special.

The Alchemist's Stone

I grew up in Kansas, in the middle of the country. The freshness of seafood was always questionable to me. After all, how fresh could it be after being flown or trucked from the ocean to the Heartland? For the first time in my life, I was in a coastal restaurant offering an array of truly fresh seafood. Including shrimp. So many kinds of shrimp.

I began with a shrimp cocktail, a decadent indulgence I never had before. For my main course, I selected a shrimp combo platter that included fried, grilled, and another first for me: bacon-wrapped shrimp.

The bacon had a smoky flavor. The shrimp itself—large and plump—melted in my mouth. I had heard the term “melts in your mouth” before, but mostly in the context of a certain hard-shelled chocolate candy. Yet, I had never actually experienced food so perfectly prepared that it seemed to dissolve effortlessly.

As the sky grew dark, the light of the restaurant gave a soft glow to the landscape outside the large windows. Each new course was a treat, and I savored every moment of that evening.

Thanks, Kevin. I have say, although I have turned my back on land-based proteins, if you put a plate of bacon-wrapped shrimp in front of me, it’d quickly be an empty plate.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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