Eating Authors: Parker Peevyhouse

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Parker Peevyhouse

You will probably not be surprised to learn that pretty much all the news here involves my ongoing convalescence. Much of the past weak was spent in the pits of weakness and fatigue and brain fog. That last piece is the worst because I’m coherent enough to know I’m stupid and to feel frustrated about all the things I cannot manage to do. I joked to my wife one morning that my big achievement for the day was gazing down at my feet and announcing, “Look, I have both a right foot and a left one.”

But things are slowly improving and I am developing strategies (i.e., layered napping) which helps, and too my bloodwork came back a couple days ago and my numbers were outstanding. So, though it may take me months yet, I think I’ve got this.

Regrettably, I have yet to recover my ability to create graceful segues to introduce EATING AUTHORS guests. This week we have Parker Peevyhouse, who writes SF thrillers for young adults. I confess to being mystified by the marketing category, but that’s because I’m old enough to remember going to the library and having to sneak from the children’s side of the building into the adult fiction stacks at the other end. But times change, and I’m delighted that booksellers and libraries can now openly lure teens to reading, and Parker’s work is ensuring they will grow up to be addicts. She’s doing all other SF authors a great service. Give her work a try with either of the novels shown below, or start with Where Futures End, her collection of five interconnected novellas.

LMS: Welcome, Parker. Did I mention I used to go to school in Santa Cruz? But enough about me, what’s your most memorable meal?

PP: My first job was as a food server at a chain restaurant where you’ve probably eaten baby back ribs. It’s also the place I ate my most memorable meal, an ice cream pie I was forbidden to sell.

The back of the restaurant still lives in my memory: the greasy russet tiles that had to be swept clean of tortilla chips every ten minutes, the gleaming steel pass lined with plastic baskets of sharp-scented buffalo wings. I dreaded the moments when the line cooks would squirt oily water over skillets of fajitas to make them sizzle for my waiting customers—those skillets left burns all down my right arm, some so deep they had to be treated with silver nitrate.

Strange Exit

In that steam-shrouded place, quick-moving food servers could make forbidden snacks by piling shredded cheese and pico de gallo from the soup station onto a tortilla, and then searing the whole thing between the hot plates of the tortilla warmer. Some of us would also sneak extra food for our cash-strapped school friends: cups of broccoli soup from the pass, baskets of oily chips from the warmer drawer… and ice cream pie from the walk-in freezer.

We were forbidden to serve the ice cream pie to paying customers. The ice cream had a habit of melting and re-freezing into a mishappen mess. Customers would complain. So the word came from corporate: don’t serve the pie, no matter how much of it you have stocked in the freezer. But also—don’t throw the pie out.

The Echo Room

I’m not sure why we weren’t allowed to throw it out. Maybe the company needed time to decide whether they might solve the melting ice cream problem. But I liked to imagine more ridiculous justifications. In my 2016 novel, Where Futures End, a similar restaurant requires non-expired food to be donated instead of trashed if it can’t be served for aesthetic reasons. But in a confused attempt at social consciousness, it also forbids the donating of high-caloric food. The result is a freezer full of ice cream nuggets that everyone wants but no one can have.

Since I could neither serve nor toss the stack of pies wobbling in our walk-in, I decided to eat them. I’d pop into the freezer between orders and sneak ice cream and cookie crust. My friends weren’t happy—they wanted pie too, and they couldn’t understand why I was the only person in the whole restaurant who could eat it. So I finally broke down. I brought out an entire pie, a mountain of vanilla and toffee ice cream on a chocolate cookie crust, and shared a forbidden meal with my friends. “I can’t charge you for this,” I told them. “It’s against the rules. But you better leave me a good tip.”

Thanks, Parker. Everyone should be blessed to have a friend like you. But then, I am a firm believer that everyone needs vanilla and toffee ice cream. Okay, maybe not everyone, maybe just me. Like, right now!

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

NB: links to authors and books here are included as part of an Amazon Affiliate account. If you follow any of them and ultimately make a purchase Amazon rewards me with a few pennies of every dollar.

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