Eating Authors: Mary Rickert

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Mary Rickert

For most of you, today is just another Monday in July. Not so for me. Today is the last Monday before I head to Chicago for the 22nd annual conference of the Klingon Language Institute (aka the qep’a’ cha’maH cha’DIch), several days spent in the company of people who gather from around the world to share their delight in the galaxy’s fastest growing language. I’ve been pushing Klingon since 1992, and some of the folk I’ll be seeing this week have been in my life that long. So, in some ways, the qep’a’ is like a family reunion. But instead of a three-legged race we have pain sticks.

So if I seem a bit distracted today, it’s only because there’s so much left to get done before I head off to the conference, not least of which is to switch into “Klingon-mode” because, honestly, other than this one week each summer I don’t spend a lot of time speaking or thinking in Klingon.

Okay, so with my excuses firmly in place (majQa’!) let’s move on and get to introducing this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Mary Rickert. Not that Mary needs much introduction as earlier this year her novella The Mothers of Voorhisville, landed her on the Nebula Award ballot, and this past June she took home a Locus Award for her first novel, The Memory Garden. And that’s just for 2015. In prior years, her short fiction has earned her the Crawford Award, two World Fantasy Awards, as well as other nominations for both the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.

LMS: Welcome, Mary. What was the best meal you remember having, when and where and why?

MR: What a pleasure it’s been to remember so many wonderful meals in my life! I recall, fondly, the winter picnic I took with my friends in high school, though I have only the vaguest memory of what we ate. Hot chocolate seemed to figure prominently. I know we had a fire, and there was the snow of course, and the realization of the ordinary magic created by a simple meal with friends.

The Memory Garden

I also thought of the fish tacos I bought from a street vendor in Mexico, and the many meals enjoyed after returning from a few days hiking the back country when I lived in Sequoia national park. There was a fine dining restaurant there at the time, and while I can’t recall any of the actual dinners, I remember quite fondly the chocolate banana cake I always ordered for dessert. I remember the soup I ordered at my favorite Thai restaurant after my husband’s safe return home from a scary emergency hospital stay; how delicious that soup was and what a comfort! And, as it turns out, soup is where I land with my best meal, which is a surprise to me because, while I do love soup, I also have a great affection for vegetarian lasagna; anyone who has read my work will notice the way lasagna and chocolate cake creeps into the meals there!

Years ago, when we still lived in upstate New York, my husband and I regularly hosted a very simple Christmas eve dinner of two soups (vegetable and venison) bread and assorted home -made cookies. We lived in a chalet style house with a giant word burning stove which was our primary source of heat. We had the ceiling height to accommodate twelve foot tall trees that we decorated with cinnamon ornaments, orange slices and candy canes.

The Mothers of Voorhisville

Our party was always small: Bill’s children, his parents, and the two children I cared for as their nanny, and their father, as well as our golden retriever, Watson, and our two cats, Goethe and Luna. The intention was to keep the whole thing very simple in the midst of all the business at that time of the year. The lighting was low and golden, the house smelled wonderful, people were happy and warm. It was always a lovely evening. But the year I remember best is the year my little friend, Piper, who was probably around five or six at the time, and I sat in the kitchen by ourselves while the party murmured in the room on the other side of the wall. She drank bowl after bowl of my vegetable soup and we had a lovely long talk. Then we put on our boots and coats and took a walk in the backyard beneath those December stars, to the edge of the woods where we turned and looked at the scene inside the house, as though we were winter spirits, ourselves, come upon this happy family in the woods.

So many in our party are now gone. First was my father-in-law, then Luna, followed, years later, by Watson and, most recently, Goethe. We no longer live in the house in the woods but have a small house in a little town in Wisconsin. My little friends are grown; David even has a child of his own. How nice it is, then, to return to that single evening, out of all the evenings and meals of my life, and find there the little girl I loved, who loved her soup, and this walk in the dark, and the golden light that spilled on the snow from the window beyond which our family stands, not even noticing we are gone, not even suspecting we are watching.

Thank you, Mary. You’ve left me with a yearning for soup and the surreal. Yum.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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