Eating Authors: Mary A. Turzillo

1 Comment » Written on September 12th, 2016 by
Categories: Plugs
Mary Turzillo

This is an odd week for me. In a few days time I’m flying off to Vilnius, Lithuania to be the GoH at Lituanicon XXVII. Such an historic departure seemed like a good time to do things a bit differently here on EATING AUTHORS where the guests have been almost exclusively novelists.

In that spirit, allow me to introduce you to Mary Turzillo, former English professor, a Nebula Award winning short story writer, and poet extraordinaire. Her collection of poems, Your Cat & Other Space Aliens, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her latest collection, Lovers & Killers, won the Elgin award. Her poems have also been nominated for the Stoker and Rhysling Awards (the latter, twice!). And finally, please, don’t be intimidated by the mixer blades she’s holding in the photo above, she’s referencing a point that she’ll explain in a moment, not threatening you (or even me). Promise.

LMS: Welcome, Mary. Let’s talk about your most memorable meal.

MAZ: Ah, Lawrence! My favorite, most memorable meal! It was not in a fancy restaurant, and it did not involve gourmet recipes or exotic ingredients. I ate this meal when I was ten years old, and I picked the strawberries myself.

Lovers & Killers

We did have many good meals back then when we lived in the boathouse. I was a good little fisherman, and knew how to scale and gut the bluegills and perch we pulled out of the lake. Sometimes there would be roe, a delicacy no longer available, to me at least. I also knew how to scrape the nasty leeches off my ankles, but that’s another story. Anyway, the most succulent fish meal I ever ate consisted of those very small fish fried in butter. Unbelievably yum. Worth tolerating leeches.

When my sister got a little older, we would catch frogs, murder them, and cut the legs off to saute in butter. What cold-blooded little killers we were, Janey and I! But that’s little girls for you: sugar, spice, quick hands with a net, and a complete lack of sympathy for helpless hoppy critters.

But as to the very best meal: my family had a field (memory serves that it was about an acre, but I was small and I may exaggerate the size) planted in strawberries. My sister and I — she was just a little mite, about four, were in charge of picking berries. We were also in charge of selling them at a stand in front of our grandmother’s house. I am not sure what happened to the money were got; it may have gone for soft-serve ice-cream from a shack down Dixie Highway.

A Guide to Endangered Monsters

Anyway, many a summer Sunday evening, my dear granny, Hazel Peltier, one of the most delightful and intelligent women ever to walk this planet, right up there with Eleanor Roosevelt, but prettier, would mix up a batch of biscuits. Let’s not get sentimental; she made these with Bisquick, but also real milk and butter. While they were baking, we would take out the big green non-electric hand mixer (my father called it the God Damned Cadillac of Hand Mixers, and I think my sister still has it). We whipped that cream until our wrists ached — taking turns, of course. Grannny would cut up the strawberries, smoosh them a bit, and sprinkle them copiously with sugar, so they swam in a delicious syrup unmatched by any commercial jam or sauce. Granny would put two hot bisquits on each plate, slice them in two, and butter the bottom lavishly, so the butter would melt. Then each half was covered with berries and strawberries.The tops of the bisquits went on top of this, along with more strawberries, and then of course a huge dollop of real whipped cream.

That was dinner! Nothing else! Well, maybe a glass of milk. It was so good I salivate even now, so many decades later.

Then we would go out in the twilight to play among the fireflies and mosquitoes, and I would search for trilobite fossils and arrowheads, or maybe read my Batman comic on the porch in the single yellow bulb light. Janey had her own amusements — dolls? pretending to be a cowboy?

Thanks for sharing that, Mary. I can taste the sunset of those bygone days. Clearly I need to have poets come by more often.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!



One Response to “Eating Authors: Mary A. Turzillo”

Ah Mary, this is not helpful to my latest diet.

Reminds me that I, too, learned how to gut trout at a young age and relished them cooked fresh over campfire or butane stove.

Now you know, editor, why it’s dangerous to ask poets about food.

Nicely done, Mary.

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