Eating Authors: Ty Franck

No Comments » Written on June 16th, 2014 by
Categories: Plugs
Ty Franck

Hello, and thanks for being here. If it’s Monday, that means you’ve survived both Friday the 13th and Father’s Day, and are now ready to face an exciting new week. I’m going to start you off right with today’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Try Franck. If you don’t immediately recognize his name, you’re probably nonetheless familiar with his writing. Ty partners with Daniel Abraham to comprise the pseudonym of James S. A. Corey, the author of The Expanse series of books (Leviathan Wakes, which was nominated for both the Hugo and Locus awards for best novel, Caliban’s War, Abaddon’s Gate, and Cibola Burn, which releases tomorrow!) as well as short stories and novellae (“The Butcher of Anderson Station”, “Gods of Risk”, and “The Churn”). For my money, this series is the best thing to hit Space Opera in a very long time.

And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. Earlier this year the Syfy channel green lighted (green lit?) a televisions show based on the series and ordered an initial ten episodes. Oh, baby!

But lest you worry that the television show is going to overtake the written word, set your mind at ease. At least two more novels and three more novellae are on order.

LMS: Welcome, Ty. I’d congratulate on all your recent successes, but we don’t have time. We have to get right to the question of what’s your most memorable meal!

TF: I do not consider myself a nostalgic person.

This may seem odd coming from someone who writes what many have called ‘throwback’ style science fiction, but while I enjoy old school space opera, I mostly don’t care about things once they’re gone. I never save old photos or other mementos. I don’t seek out old friends on Facebook to reconnect. I don’t usually watch old TV shows on video streaming services.

So let me tell you about the thing I’m nostalgic for.

Leviathan Wakes

In the postage stamped Chinatown of Portland Oregon there was once a restaurant called Marco Polo’s. It served traditional Szechuan style Chinese food. Lots of spicy meat dishes and savory vegetables. It had one of the better bars I’ve ever run into in a restaurant, and in fact the Long Island Iced Tea recipe I use at home comes from the bartender there. The restaurant was located on the first floor of an old brick building, and the interior was mostly of an unfinished industrial look.. Lots of exposed ducting and faded bricks. Interestingly, this combination of age and lack of polish made the dining area comfortable for any event. People in expensive evening wear ate dinner next to tables full of young adults with ratty jeans, and somehow no one looked out of place.

For my wife and I and many of our friends, it was the event location. We celebrated anniversaries there. We ate dinner before or after downtown events like theater or musical acts. People proposed marriage or tearfully admitted they wanted a divorce. And Marco Polo’s seemed to work for anything. The place was always packed yet seemed to never quite run out of tables. The large open space created a background noise that made it feel private without being deafening. It could handle an intimate dinner for two, or a raucous crowd of twenty with equal aplomb. It was, for me, the perfect restaurant.

Honor Among Thieves: Star Wars (Empire and Rebellion)

And then, almost before I knew it was happening, the restaurant lost its lease and it was gone. At the time I was sad but not overly so. I lived in an area of Portland with many fine restaurants. I wasn’t going to lack for fun tasty places to eat. I mourned briefly and then moved on. It wasn’t until the event of my sister’s untimely death that the loss of the place hit me full force. After leaving the hospital, my family congregated at my house to sit and talk. We quickly gathered a sizable crowd of family members and close friends. After a while people began talking about finding someplace to eat. And I remember quite clearly realizing that this was the quintessential Marco Polo’s moment. They could handle a large party like ours. We’d drink long islands and eat spicy food and so some of the blubbering would be drunkenness, and some of the tears would be from spice. But Marco Polo’s was gone, and it was like losing another family member.

Again, I do not consider myself a nostalgic person.

Cibola Burn

The perfect meal at Marco Polo’s was a thing I have never found anywhere else. They called it sesame beef, but I’ve had sesame beef at other places and they are not remotely the same. Marco Polo’s sesame beef was spicy hot marinated strips of tender beef in a rich spicy and sweet sauce, laid over the top of a bed of crispy sesame noodles. It was, quite simply, mankind’s greatest food related invention. In fact, just go ahead and order two of those to start, because you never have enough. Next to it you’d order a bowl of the garlic sautéed vegetables, and for the seafood eaters, a plate of Phoenix and Dragon, which was their chicken and lobster with vegetable dish. Yes, chicken and lobster. They made that work somehow. Delicious freshly steamed rice accompanied any meal, and if I may be so bold, no meal was complete without their amazing long island iced tea from the bar. Only order one, because they put them in a huge glass and the bartender is never stingy with the booze. Loosen the belt, tuck in, and have some laughs with your friends as you fight over who gets the last spoonful of sesame beef. Answer, my wife gets it you pigs, so back off. Then I “help” her polish it off.

There’s no finer meal I’ve ever had or will have. It exists only in my memory now. But I honestly don’t consider myself a nostalgic person.

Thanks, Ty. It’s a real shame you’re not more of a nostalgic person, but what can you do?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!



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