Eating Authors: Marshall Ryan Maresca

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Marshall Ryan Maresca

For the last 20 years or so, I’ve always gotten a bit anxious in the days leading up to Independence Day (those of you living outside the USA, be advised I’m referring to the American event known locally as “the 4th of July”). As you may know, I live in the greater Philadelphia area, considered by some as the birthplace of the nation (we’ve got this bell, see…). Every year as this holiday draws nigh, I find myself thinking that if I wanted to make an anti-American statement, it would happen on this date and in this city, and then I start wondering where I should be spending the weekend, far far from here.

Of course, I’m setting up this week’s entry a bit in advance of the holiday, so if you’re reading this and something dire has come to pass, well, damn. Sorry. On the other hand, if this is just another Monday as usual, then great. Let’s proceed to the main event here at EATING AUTHORS and this week’s guest, Marshall Ryan Maresca.

I first met Marshall back in February when we were both snowed in at attending Boskone. His first novel, The Thorn of Dentonhill, had just been published and it was great fun to spend a portion of the convention just introducing him to lots and lots of people. But the life of a new author is not all panels and barconning, oh no. Marshall has been busy. The second book in his Maradaine Constabulary series, A Murder of Mages, comes out tomorrow! Hmm… we could be looking at a long-running series here!

LMS: Welcome, Marshall. The snows of Boskone are far behind us and you’ve had months to come up with a response to my question: What’s your most memorable meal?

MRM: I’m going to cheat slightly in my answer, because it involves two back-to-back dinners, but since they involved similar circumstances, in my memory of “great meals,” they go together.

The Thorn of Dentonhill

I have something of a love/hate relationship with travel, specifically when it comes to meals. I love the adventure of it, but more often than not the food I encounter when I’m traveling is, at best, fine. I end up leaning toward safe choices that I know won’t be bad rather than waste time, money and calories on something that’s going to disappoint. This applies to restaurants as well as personalized, home-cooked meals. While I love food of all sorts, I often don’t trust establishments or people to deliver quality at the level that I set for myself.

In other words, I’m rarely pleasantly surprised by my meals when I’m traveling. Which is what made my trip to Portland so exceptional.

Going to Portland allowed my wife and I to combine business and personal visits into one trip. Our first night we were hosted by my wife’s cousin and her husband. My wife’s cousin prepared a very simple yet exquisite meal of steaks, pesto linguini, salad and ample amounts of wine. Now, I don’t think she did anything particularly special with the steaks — seasoned with just salt and pepper, I think — but it was possibly one of the finest steaks I’ve had. My wife, who is not a big red meat eater, even had three portions. So that meal alone would have made our trip stand out.

A Murder of Mages

Except the next night we were hosted by old friends from Austin. Again, a very simple yet outstanding dinner, in a completely different way. They made a rustic Tom Kha soup — and when I say rustic, I mean, incredibly so. Soup made with a whole chicken just cut into eight pieces, still with bone and skin; large chunks of garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Now, a Tom Kha wasn’t a soup I had had a lot of experience with, but that soup was one of the richest, most flavorful things I’ve had the pleasure of eating. It was one of those meals that when food was served, conversation stopped because everyone was so engrossed in experiencing the food itself.

If every trip I took had dinners like these, I’d be a lot less wary about my meals while traveling.

Thanks, Marshall. As delicious as both those meals sound, you have me wondering now what your worst travel-related meal involved. We’ll have to talk.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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