Eating Authors: Rick Partlow

No Comments » Written on November 30th, 2020 by
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Rick Partlow

In simpler times, today would be “Cyber Monday.” Except in these pandemic days, “Black Friday” became an online event, which kind of does away with the cyber distinction. And too, I started seeing Black Friday deals a month ago. Clearly our collective time sense is seriously out of whack. Despite this, last Thursday in the USA was Thanksgiving, albeit a mutated version for most, reflecting folks not traveling over rivers or through woods to grandma’s house, and Zooming to share meals. It’s not the same, and I don’t recommend trying to pass anyone candied yams through a computer monitor.

But we’re still here. It’s the last Monday of November and the year is dwindling before our eyes. Many of us are counting on something magical happening once the calendar says 2021. I don’t think we seriously expect everything to instantly improve, but crossing into January will surely feel like the start of better days.

All of this was on my mind for Thanksgiving, which, as you’ll read below, is something of a segue for this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest because Rick Partlow’s most memorable meal is a very specific Thanksgiving. But before you get to that, let’s talk a bit about Rick.

I think I first discovered Rick’s work earlier this year when we were both part of the 20Books Space Opera Pack put together by Craig Martelle. But we hadn’t met. Maybe we’d gave connected at the 20Books conference this year, but yeah, that didn’t happen. Instead, I encountered Rick at the virtual SFFcon organized by Amy DuBoff in response to so many other events canceling. Rick was on a panel talking about AI, Robotics, and Cybernetics, and it was such a great discussion that as soon as he and his co-panelists left the virtual stage I immediately reached out to him and invited him to share a meal.

Looking at his schedule, I’m amazed he could squeeze me in. Rick’s been busy, having written more than 40 books spread out across ten different series, including his popular Drop Trooper series and the Interstellar Bounty Hunter series. There’s also assorted shorter works that can be found in a dozen different anthologies.

Oh, and if you want to catch that panel from SFFcon, here’s a link.

LMS: Welcome, Rick. So here’s the question: what’s your most memorable meal?

RP: That’s a toughie because I’ve had some excellent meals in my day. I’m not a gourmand, but I am constantly in pursuit of the perfect steak and I’ve come to very much appreciate bison fillets. I’ve also had some great experiences eating at little, out of the way places like the little hole in the wall family restaurant in the mountains of Costa Rica where we ate on a covered porch and watched nesting Montezuma Oropendola birds bringing food back to the nest while we ate.

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But my memories always tend to go back to the food I ate fresh, cooked outdoors, simply, seasoned by hunger. To a rock fish caught on a half-day deep-sea charter by my nine-year-old son, pan-fried by a little Filipino woman whose family was camping in the cabin next to ours in Seward, Alaska.

But the most memorable meal, the one that keeps popping up in my thoughts whenever I consider the question, was a particular Thanksgiving Day back in the 90s.

The father of a close friend of mine owned a ranch in Wauchula, Florida, and on the ranch he also kept orange groves, and periodically he would apply for depredation permits to let him hunt the deer and feral hog out of the groves. Very early one Thanksgiving Day morning, my friend and I and one other mutual acquaintance went into the groves to hunt deer. We killed three and then we took them back to the barn to dress them. I helped the other two men skin and dress the deer, then cut them into steaks and we grilled the meat over an open fire and had fresh venison for Thanksgiving Day lunch with our families.


Venison tastes best when it’s marinated for a day or three, so this was gamey, hardly the best meal I ever had, accompanied by simple, roast potatoes and carrots and corn on the cob. Nothing to write home about from a culinary standpoint, but the experience changed me. When you kill a living animal, push its guts out with your hand, skin it with a knife and chop it into cuts with knives and a hatchet, when you brush the flies off of the cuts before they can lay their eggs and then cook the venison on a grill, your mouth watering from hours and hours of work, then eat the fruits of your labor, well… it’s either going to turn you into a vegetarian or it’s going to give you a newfound appreciation for the realities of how hard it’s been historically to get food and how lucky we are to live in a time when it’s as simple as a drive down to the grocery store.

I am not a vegetarian, but I don’t get upset over food prices anymore.

Thanks, Rick. But seriously, three deer? That’s a lot of meat even for a Thanksgiving feast. I hope you had a lot of people to feed. Either that, or a large freezer at your disposal.

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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