Eating Authors: Martha Wells

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Martha Wells

Welcome to another episode of EATING AUTHORS, the weekly blog feature that lures you in with false promises of literary cannibalism. It’s Monday, March 11th, which means Hugo nominations have closed and my accountant is sharpening her knives and preparing to go over my taxes. To provide myself distraction from both of these things I can think of nothing better than to introduce this week’s guest, Martha Wells.

She carries on that great tradition of Science Fiction and Fantasy authors who write from a background in anthropology. I confess, this is one of my weaknesses (doubtless the result of an early introduction to Le Guin). Martha’s talent in this area has been recognized with nominations for the Compton Crook Award, the William Crawford Award, the Imaginales Award, and the Nebula Award. She’s equally at home writing stand alone fantasy novels (e.g., City of Bones), fantasy series (check out the novels and short stories in both her Ile-Rien series and Books of the Raksura series), and media tie-in science fiction (Stargate Atlantis: Reliquary). Rumor has it she’s working on a Star Wars project even as we speak.

LMS: Welcome, Martha. Thanks for dropping by. Can you tell the friendly readers here about your most memorable meal?

MW: I’ve had a lot of meals I thought were memorable, from the wonderful dinner I went to in Nantes that was hosted by my French publisher, to a counter service restaurant in Houston that had the best shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and fried eggplant I’ve ever had in my life. Probably the best location for a meal was in New Zealand, where I had thermos bottle tea and cookies served out of the back of a jeep in the valley used for the CGI shots of Isengard.

But the place where I’ve had the most great meals is Galveston, Texas. It’s an island beach town that was a huge financial center before the 1900 hurricane killed around eight thousand people and destroyed much of the town. Most recently it was hit badly by hurricane Ike in 2008, but it’s always managed to come back.

It’s only about a three hour drive away from where I live, so it’s a great spot when you really need a vacation but can’t afford to go anywhere that involves plane tickets. There are a lot of cheap places to eat that have great food and great places to sit. There’s The Spot, which is a family counter service restaurant/biker bar on Seawall Boulevard. If you wind your way up the stairs far enough, you can sit on a big shaded balcony and eat your fried shrimp with an incredible view of the beach.

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But my favorite fancy restaurant there is Rudy and Paco’s. It’s on Post Office Street in the Strand historic district, next to the restored Victorian-era Opera House. It’s small and in the bottom of an old building that looks like it’s been through a few hurricanes (because it has), but the inside is gorgeous and has a beautiful art deco bar. It’s hard to believe that after hurricane Ike, the dining room was full of water and sand and debris.

The last time I went there I took two friends who had never been before. We were standing outside looking at the menu in the glass case when Paco came up, said, “Ladies, it’s too hot to stand out here,” shooed us into the restaurant, and seated us. (The service there is always fantastic, but when Paco brings you in and seats you, waiters materialize everywhere.)

The food is seafood in a South or Central American style, and we had the mixed empanada appetizer. They’re all good, but the beef empanada was so savory and meltingly tender it’s sort of ruined future empanadas for me. I had the Scallops Granada, which is scallops in a marsala and dijon creme sauce. For dessert I think we had a tres leches cake that was actually made with four leches, but I was in a food coma by then and I’m not sure.

Thanks, Martha. Any restaurant that can induce “food coma” is a must-visit site for me. Galveston, here I come!

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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