Eating Authors: Stephanie Feldman

No Comments » Written on June 15th, 2015 by
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Stephanie Feldman

I saw my first firefly of the year a couple evenings ago, which for me marks the real start of summer (forget Memorial Day or the solstice, I’m here to tell you, it’s all about the fireflies). Signs. Signs and portents. Which is about as good as I’m going to be able to manage for a segue to introduce you to Stephanie Feldman, my guest this week here at EATING AUTHORS, whose first novel, The Angel of Losses won the William L. Crawford Fantasy Award earlier this year. And, if that’s not enough for you, it was also a finalist for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, as well as landing on the Washington Post’s Five Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Books of 2014.

Stephanie continues the glorious tradition of awesome authors living in the greater Philadelphia area (seriously, there must be something in the water here). For reasons that I cannot begin to comprehend, I’ve not seen a lot of buzz about this book, and so please believe me when I tell you that it is nothing short of incredible and seriously, why haven’t you clicked the cover image below and already ordered a copy? By the way, the paperback version of her book comes out a week from tomorrow, so you’re really running out of excuses.

Oh, and one final plug (in case you’re live in or plan to be in Philadelphia), in celebration of the paperback release, Stephanie will be appearing at a local Barnes & Noble (1805 Walnut Street, Philadelphia) alongside novelists Daniel Torday and Cecily Wong. It’s all taking place on Wednesday, June 24th, starting at 7pm. The word on the street is that Geekadelphia will be there running a trivia quiz. Expect readings, prizes, and possibly even (gasp!) cupcakes.

LMS: Welcome, Stephanie. This is only about the fourth time I’ve asked this of a Crawford Award winner; what’s your most memorable meal?

SF: I love eating and cooking, and making events out of eating and cooking, so I’ve had many memorable meals: lunch at a famous Parisian restaurant, where I spent more money than I’ll ever admit; the char siu bao I made from scratch in my first kitchen; the multi-course holiday dinner I prepared for four generations of family. But I don’t want to write about any of these memories. The Paris restaurant—too obvious. The char siu bao—too solitary. The family holiday—too fraught.

When I think about eating well, I think about Queens, New York, where I lived for five years. New York is filled with beautifully designed restaurants, and so is Philadelphia, my current home. But Queens has food trucks and markets serving, for a few dollars, tacos and kebabs and styrofoam bowls of dumplings. It’s certainly not fancy, but it’s a luxury: the ease of picking up something hot and vibrant and nourishing, something you didn’t realize you needed until you smelled the curry in the air. Those quick meals sustained me in the years after I traded my nine-to-five life for the unpredictable and disorienting world of flex-time and baby-care.

The Angel of Losses

One morning, a friend invited me to grab breakfast. She had, she said, discovered something incredible. We pushed our babies side-by-side in identical strollers to a market by the elevated subways stairs. It was early, and the market empty, but behind a bank of glass there were already trays of drumsticks and biryanis and vegetables floating in rich sauces. We took one of the few tables and drank chai out of paper cups while the cook spread batter on the flat-top grill.

This was breakfast: made-to-order flatbread folded around soft eggs spiked with chili peppers. It offered that same endorphin blast of any breakfast sandwich—that perfect ratio of fat to carbohydrate—but it was also delicate in texture, construction, and flavor, even with the spice. Better than that, it was a lovely surprise shared with a friend. We gave tiny pieces of bread to the babies to gnaw on and talked about all the peculiar things we had in common, while outside people hurried up and down the subway stairs in an endless rush hour. I’ve never had anything like it since leaving Queens—nor have I seen that friend, who now lives thousands of miles away—nor do my days, properly scheduled in a quiet suburb, produce so many small discoveries.

I wish I knew the name for that specific bread and that particular style of breakfast (if it’s a standard one), but even if I did, I couldn’t have that meal again.

Thanks, Stephanie. Your recollection serves to remind me all too clearly of what is lost by living out here in the suburbs and exoburbs. Also, I’m suddenly craving a run on a food truck! Care to join me?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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