Eating Authors: Travis Heermann

No Comments » Written on December 12th, 2016 by
Categories: Plugs
Travis Heermann

As I write this, I am recovering from a trip to southern California which has resulted in the plague. Miraculously, I seem likely to survive, and so the weekly Monday updates here at EATING AUTHORS will continue. But trust me when I tell you, it was a near thing.

This week’s guest is Travis Heermann, a wonderfully talented author whose work I’ve come to know because I’ll be publishing a novella of his in the next volume of Alembical. Travis is a graduate of the Odyssey workshop> He’s a freelancer, which means he does it all: magazine articles, short stories, novels (including his epic historical fantasy Ronin trilogy), games (both RPG and online), screenplays, you name it. He’s an engineer, an English teacher, a world traveler, and a man who dreams of having a seat in the World Series of Poker. It’s good to have dreams, but in the meantime, you’ve got to eat.

LMS: Welcome, Travis. Before we deal the cards, please talk about your most memorable meal.

TH: It was on my honeymoon last year. My new bride and I had flown to Costa Rica, rented a car, and drove up from San Jose up into the region around Volcán Arenal. On the way there, I started getting sicker and sicker. Headache, nausea that wasn’t car sickness from driving on some mighty crazy mountains roads, and some serious abdominal pain. It was awful, but I powered through it to the hotel, where our little bungalow commanded a stunning view of the jungle-skirted volcano.

Heart of the Ronin

No gallo pinto. No exotic fruit. No food-like cultural experience.
To abbreviate the unpleasant details, I had come down with a serious abdominal infection, requiring heavy duty pain killers and two potent antibiotics, and no solid food for 72 hours. For three days, I could take nothing but clear liquids. My meals would be chicken broth, tea, and coffee.

There’s nothing worse than being on vacation in a new country and not be allowed to eat anything. Anything. At all.

For the first day, I was in too much pain, so I slept it away in a drugged out haze.

By the second day, the pain was mostly gone and I was getting hungry.

By the third day, I could have eaten a road-kill rhinoceros, had someone scared one up.

The first meal that I had after my fast was at a restaurant called the Benedictus Steakhouse near the town of La Fortuna. The guidebook called it some of the best food in the area.

Cthulhu Passant

The road to Benedictus Steakhouse at dusk was a narrow, chuck-holed, vertical incline, better reached by helicopter than automobile. Perched atop a mist-swathed mountain with Arenal in the distance, the Benedictus Steakhouse was strangely empty when we arrived at dusk. We were the only customers.

We shared our table with a lime-green lizard, at an expansive window that overlooked the mist-shrouded valley beyond, outside of which a tree frog clung to the balcony rail and sang to us as night fell.

And the food.

Oh.

The food.

The first course was an absolutely heavenly ceviche. Even the guidebook mentioned the ceviche. If I ever encounter a superior ceviche, I think I’ll have to burst into song. In my half-starved state, I could have mistaken a slice of white bread and a saltine for ambrosia, but even then I knew that this was something transcendental. The sourness, the fish, the vegetables, the cilantro and spices. Every bite was a symphony.

Death Wind Passant

The second course was a filet mignon about the size of my palm, along with some roasted vegetables. We had driven past the steak’s relatives on the way up the mountain. And again, sheer perfection of tenderness, juiciness, and seasoning.

No gallo pinto. No exotic fruit. No food-like cultural experience.
I don’t think I have ever eaten so slowly, with such complete concentration and focus on what my palate was experiencing.

By this time, the sun had disappeared, and the moon shone through the mist outside. Several other tables were full, but the subdued light made the final course even more spectacular.

Dessert was a flaming banana-and-ice-cream dish similar to Bananas Foster, and every bite was the perfect marriage of texture, sweetness, spice, and creamy ice cream nirvana. We had also passed the ice cream’s mothers as we were dodging pot-holes that could have concealed a Mayan temple.

Thanks, Travis. Sounds like a fantastic meal. But all through your description I kept wondering, how in the world did you drive back to your lodging in the dark?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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