Eating Authors: Matthew Johnson

No Comments » Written on August 17th, 2015 by
Categories: Plugs
Matthew Johnson

If you’re reading this on Monday morning, the odds are very good that I am airborne. In theory, I should be winging my way westward to the wilds of Spokane, WA, where in two day’s time the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention opens its doors. They’re expecting about 5,000 authors, artists, and fans, and I am very happy to get to be a part of it.

But just because I am away, do not for a moment believe that I have shirked my responsibilities to you, gentle reader. Far from it. For I have crossed an international border to bring you this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, none other than Canadian writer, Matthew Johnson.

His first novel, Fall from Earth, was published by Bundoran Press, a Canadian publisher whose authors have shared meals with us in the past (e.g., M. Darusha Wehm). If you missed it, follow the link. But let me also encourage you to pick up a copy of his more recent book, the collection Irregular Verbs, which I had the great pleasure to read and blurb in advance of its release from ChiZine Publications. Each story hit me as more fresh and compelling than its kin.

There’s a deceptive ease to Matthew’s writing that gives it a significant punch. Fair warning then, if his description of his most memorable meal may sneak up on you as well.

LMS: Welcome, Matthew. Talk to me about your most memorable meal.

Irregular Verbs

MJ: My general rule when it comes to food is “Eat what you can’t get at home.” This has led to a lot of interesting meals: sushi in Japan made from cuttlefish that had moments before been swimming in the pool in front of me; crackers, cheddar, and milk mixed together in a bowl in Vermont; and, once, a meal where I had absolutely no idea what I was eating — to the point of not being able to tell if something was a nut or a mollusc — at a Malay restaurant in Singapore. (It was a betel nut, I later learned.)

My most memorable meal, while equally local, was also probably the simplest: on the pier in Bar Harbor, there was (and may still be) a spot where you could buy lobster and blue crab straight from the fisherman. Once you had paid your money, into the pot it went, to be served to you a few minutes later with nothing more than a paper cup of butter and a fistful of napkins. After that it was up to you to find room at one of the picnic tables overlooking the harbour.

Fall From Earth

If you’ve never eaten blue crab, the important thing to know is that it’s food that makes you work for it. With other large crustaceans — lobsters, king crabs, stone crabs, and so on — there’s always the temptation to just eat the easy bits and leave some flesh in the more inaccessible parts. Well, on a blue crab there are no easy bits: even the claws take about as much work to deflesh as the legs of a good-size lobster. But that’s the whole point of it. An hour spent focusing your concentration on getting every bit of meat out of the shell, tasting the sea with every bite, feeling the sun on your back and listening to the gulls’ cries — that’s an hour that withstands the efforts of passing time to compress it into memory.

Thanks, Matthew. I’m going to have to ponder the significance of you talking about a memory of a meal to point out that a meal can have its own impact on memory.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!


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