Eating Authors: Mike Reeves-McMillan

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Mike Reeves-McMillan

Here in the USA, today, Labor Day, marks the official end of summer and never mind that the solstice is still more than two weeks away. And yet, where I live autumn is already rearing its head and I’m seeing leaves turning and cool weather. Confusing stuff, but as the fall is my favorite season and usually races by too fast I’m happy to have it arrive.

I’m spending most of September doing novel and novella revisions, with only a single travel exception. For those of you in the greater Baltimore area, you can find me on programming at the Baltimore Book Festival. It’s a great way to spend the weekend, though I’ll only be there on Saturday the 23rd. Come on by.

And speaking of travel, this week EATING AUTHORS heads to the southern hemisphere to introduce you to Mike Reeves-McMillan. No doubt all the opening remarks about summer fading into autumn is a bit confusing to him, but it can’t be helped.

Sadly, I’ve never actually crossed paths with Mike, which is a shame because the number of genre authors who are also hypnotherapists is a very small club indeed and surely we should all go out to eat together. Mike’s popular Gryphon Clerks (the latest volume, Mister Bucket for Assembly features food and food preparation as major political issues) began as a self-published effort but has since been picked up by small press Digital Fiction. He also writes the contemporary urban fantasy series Auckland Allies (proudly set in his hometown) as well as delightful sword-and-sorcery heist capers found in his Hand of the Trickster series.

LMS: Welcome, Mike. Tell me what stands out as your most memorable meal?

MR-M: I’ve had a few memorable meals. Several of them were when I travelled for work to Malaysia, over 20 years ago. I had chili squid on rice for breakfast at the very nice hotel the company had put me up in (because when you’re in Malaysia, why not?), much to the confusion of one of the other westerners staying there. And on the first day, as lunchtime approached, the local guy who I was working with said, hesitantly, “I suppose you’ll want western food for lunch?”

“Oh, no,” I said, “I love Asian food. It’s what I eat at home.”

Hand of the Trickster

Turns out that was exactly the right thing to say, because Malaysians are very proud of their cuisine — rightly so. Kuala Lumpur turned out to be a cultural crossroads, where I could eat a different country’s food each day. We ate at a Japanese place where the food came past on a circular conveyor belt, with the plates colour-coded according to the price, and you just lifted off what you wanted and then took your coloured plates up to the cashier at the end to pay. We ate at a street stall where an extremely elderly Chinese woman was spit-roasting the most delicious chickens I’ve ever tasted with some kind of amazing marinade. We ate at an Indian restaurant in the sort of setting where a stray cat with a broken tail wanders past and stops to beg for food as you eat streetside. It was all delicious (and, despite my occasional qualms, I got away without food poisoning).

But I’ve eaten some memorable meals in Auckland, New Zealand, where I live, as well.

One of them was memorable because I didn’t listen to the Indian waiter when he warned me that ordering vindaloo “hot” was not something he himself would do. That was more of an experience than it was a meal, and taught me an important lesson about listening to your waiter. Also about vindaloo.

Mister Bucket for Assembly

My most memorable recent meal was at the Jervois Steakhouse, a high-end steak restaurant owned by one of the judges on the New Zealand version of Masterchef. We found out about it because my wife is addicted to food shows, especially the Masterchefs. (The Australian one is our favourite, which is almost blasphemy in New Zealand; but the amateur cooks who go on it are just at such a high level of skill, and the judges make it a warm and positive show while still retaining the drama. It makes Masterchef USA look a bit sick, to be honest.)

Anyway, when the company I worked for at the time gave me a budget to go out to dinner and celebrate working for them for 15 years, I took my wife and my oldest friend to Jervois Steakhouse.

If I’d been spending my own money, I wouldn’t have ordered the $32 starter of tempura oysters, but I’m glad I did. Sweet, fresh oysters in a light, delicious batter, and not the least bit greasy. Mmmm. I’d order them again like a shot.

Now I want lunch.

Thanks, Mike. You remind me that one of the best meals in my life was in New Zealand, specially prepared for me by the chef at Te Papa. Glory days.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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