Eating Authors: Leanna Renee Hieber

No Comments » Written on December 31st, 2018 by
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Leanna Renee Hieber

Congratulations. We’ve made it through to the last day of another year. High fives all around. I’m not going to comment on 2018. Nope. Just point it toward the exit and focus on the potentials that lie ahead in the new year. And yet, even as we move forward, EATING AUTHORS returns home, specifically with this week’s guest, Leanna Renee Hieber, whose meal occurs here in Philadelphia.

Leanna is not merely an award-winning (four Prism awards as well as RWA’s author of the year), bestselling author of Gothic Victorian Fantasy, but also a playwright and actress (performing her one-woman show as 19th century designer Clara Driscoll). But wait, somehow she also finds time to be a licensed ghost tour guide in New York City.

Her most recent book, barely a month old, The Spectral City, sports the tagline “Solving crime isn’t only for the living” and offers up a teenage medium helping the police in turn-of-the century NYC. Best of all, it’s only the first book in a promised new series!

LMS: Welcome, Leanna. Thanks for being here to close out the year. Please share your most memorable meal.

LRH: I’m a historical fantasy author focusing on the 19th century. I’m also a vegetarian. So, whenever I can mix my love of history with my passion for vegetarianism, it’s a really great day. 

The Spectral City

One of the most memorable meals I’ve had was at the City Tavern in Philadelphia with one of my dearest friends. We discovered, to our delight, that there was a Tofu dish on the menu. City Tavern, one of Benjamin Franklin’s old haunts, a building and history dating to the pre-revolutionary period, prides itself on authentic Revolutionary Era cuisine, being so near to Independence Hall. This isn’t a cuisine known for particularly adventurous offerings. When I excitedly asked about the Tofu, our waiter, matching my enthusiasm, told us that in examining letters from Benjamin Franklin, the Tavern staff recently discovered an entry about enjoying a Tofu dish in France that he wanted to bring back to America and include in new dishes here. Due to this historical account, City Tavern created a flavorful, filling, breaded tofu dish stewed in a rich tomato base with fresh vegetables.

Paired with the warm, powerful goodness of a Tavern Warmer, a heated alcoholic beverage rich in brandy and spices, it was an incredible meal in a very historic space that admittedly felt a bit haunted. Considering I write historical supernatural suspense, this is a welcome perk. The warmth of the food, the cozy atmosphere of candles and fireplaces and the rosy cheeks created by the Tavern Warmer together provided a dynamic contrast to the allure of the building’s spectral chill.

Given that my latest novel, The Spectral City, a Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy full of ghosts and mystery set in 1899 involves a vibrant historic East Coast, I love taking the opportunity to do a bit of time travel in my work and research, and this meal at City Tavern was exactly that.

Thanks, Leanna. Franklin and tofu… I have no words. I’m completely agog. I’ll never look at Poor Richard’s Almanac the same way again.

Next Monday: Another year, another author and another meal!

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