Posts Tagged ‘Eating Authors’

Eating Authors: Barbara Krasnoff

No Comments » Written on March 30th, 2020 by
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Barbara Krasnoff

Today’s an exciting day. About the same time this blog posts hits the interweb, I’ll be getting ready for a bone marrow biopsy (my fourth in the past seven months or so). The purpose of this procedure is to check in on my new immune system and see if it worked and left me (at least for now) free of cancerous cells.

Naturally, I have a little anxiety about this, but only a little. Of bigger concern in our covid-19 world is that I have to go to a hospital for this and there will be sick people there. Likely not folks who knowingly have the corona virus, but who knows. I will have my N95 mask at the ready.

But let’s shift to a happier topic: As some of you will recall, last year I was among the authors invited to play in Chuck Gannon’s sandbox. The result was the anthology Lost Signals. I love reading books like this. It’s a chance to see the familiar from a number of fresh perspectives. That volume was my first opportunity to experience it for myself. And among the privileged authors whom Chuck had invited was Barbara Krasnoff, this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest.

Barbara is a past Nebula award finalist, and probably most known as a short story writer, but she’s also written YA nonfiction and pays the bills as a freelance reviewer and technical writer. Her forthcoming book, The History of Soul 2065, is a mosaic novel that follows two generations of Jewish families. It’s going to blow your mind.

If you’re within hailing distance of Philadelphia, you can see Barbara live in a few months. She’ll be one of the authors reading at Galactic Philadelphia’s June event (assuming that by then we’ve moved past the current constraints imposed by the Corona virus pandemic).

LMS: Welcome, Barbara. Please tell me about your most memorable meal.

BK: I have always been a fan of 18th and 19th century British literature — Dickens, Austin, the Brontes, Collins — and so after I graduated college, I decided to save up my money so I could take a trip to Great Britain. I got a job as an editorial assistant at a travel magazine, lived with my parents, and saved up for two years. Then I bid farewell to my job, bought an airplane ticket, arranged to spend the first three nights at what sounded like a reasonably priced London hotel, and went off on my adventure. I was 23.

On the flight over, I met a young woman a little older than myself. We hit it off immediately, and since she didn’t have any place to stay (her boyfriend had split up with her the day before they were due to go, leaving her only with the plane ticket), we decided to share my room.

The History of Soul 2065

The plane landed in London early in the morning. We shared our cab with an older couple — a husband and wife — who, it turned out, had reservations at the same hotel. The woman, obviously the more outgoing of the two, chatted happily with us all the way.

The hotel turned out to be a large, run-down, old-fashioned building that looked as if it hadn’t been refurbished since Edwardian times. We were surrounded by scarred, dark wood, seats with stuffed cushions curved by years of use, and a few lamps unenthusiastically pretending to light the lobby. I wouldn’t have been surprised if we’d been greeted by a ghost; instead, the staff was made up of a group of not-quite-awake, resentful men who reluctantly showed us into what they called the tea room — equally dark, equally dusty. Our rooms, they told us, would be ready in about an hour. Maybe.

One problem: we were all famished. The food on the airplane (they were still serving meals on airplanes) had been practically inedible, and according to the staff, no restaurants in the area were open yet. The older woman waylaid one of the hotel staff and asked whether they had anything to eat. The kitchen is closed, he told us, but then admitted reluctantly that they could probably manage some sandwiches. Perfect! The woman immediately ordered enough sandwiches for all four of us.

Lost Signals

About 15 minutes later, the man came out with a small tray of tiny finger sandwiches — thin slices of white bread with the crusts cut off, with some kind of fish paste spread so stingily that you had to squint to find it. My friend and I stared at each other, dismayed. I felt like crying. Was this my welcome to my great adventure?

Luckily, the older woman wasn’t at all fazed. “This is ridiculous,” she said loudly, apparently unashamed to act the pushy American. “We’re four hungry adults, and this won’t feed a flea. Where is your kitchen?”

I was astounded at her chutzpah, but obviously the staffer felt he wasn’t being paid enough to argue with an apparently crazy woman and led her to the kitchen. A few minutes later, the two of them came out pushing a cart laden with thick ham and cheese sandwiches and a large pot of tea.

They were the most delicious sandwiches I think I have ever eaten.

Thanks, Barbara. Sometimes it’s good to be the ugly American, albeit maybe not so much in the current political climate. Then again, it’s not like most of us are doing any traveling in the near future.

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.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

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Eating Authors: Roby James

No Comments » Written on March 23rd, 2020 by
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Roby James

All around me I see people freaking out as a part of their responsible efforts to self-isolate as they do their part to slow the spread of covid-19. As a professional extrovert, I can relate. Even though I have a very nice office here at home, historically I almost never used it. For the last few years I’d awaken around 6am, tend to my ablutions, and then drive off to park my butt at a McDonald’s and write for hours.

I knew back in mid-January that a consequence of my BMT was going to be several months of seclusion as my immune system grew back and stabilized. It wasn’t easy, but I made my peace with the knowledge there would be no restaurants, no travel, no congregating with friends. So for me, the requirements imposed by society in response to the Corona virus are old news; I’d already been doing them well before the WHO called it a pandemic. And yes, I also had long since stocked up on food, TP, and hand sanitizer.

Which is no kind of segue at all (just an update) to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Roby James. Roby says she’s been writing since she was nine years old and she’s been busy. She written for television. She’s written nonfiction. She’s written blends of fantasy, romance, and historical. She’s written science fiction. She’s written for the Washington Post. She’s done desktop publishing, technical writing, and also taught fiction writing. By my count, she has ten books out, including her two volume Starfire Saga (see the covers below) and her three volume Warrior Wisewoman anthology series (Warrior Wisewoman, Warrior Wisewoman 2, and Warrior Wisewoman 3).

Roby’s most recent novel is Maelstrom , a Regency Romance.

LMS: Welcome, Roby. In these days when so many of us are staying home, we really need to read accounts of memorable meals. What’s yours?

RJ: There used to be a Moroccan restaurant in Los Angeles called Dharma Greb, and Keith and I ate there on special occasions both before and after we were married. It was one of those fancy places with a fountain in the tiled forecourt and belly dancers entertaining the diners. We loved it, and the food we liked best was the b’stiilla, which Feast Magazine called: “a spiced, savory and slightly sweet meat pie, layered with exotic flavors, encased in tender phyllo and baked to golden, buttery perfection.”

For some reason, Keith decided he wanted to make it at home.

Commencement

Keith took over the cooking early in our marriage, after the third time I caused a fire in the kitchen, once by trying to boil water. I was awed by his determination to tackle something as fancy, even though he had proved himself to be a good and adventurous cook. Then we saw the recipe, and we were both taken aback. It had 25 ingredients, one of which was “10 eggs.” And since we noticed that the recipe ended with the words “Serves 12,” we picked a date and invited friends to dinner. No pressure.

We began to assemble the ingredients, both those Keith used often (chicken, eggs, butter) and those he’d never used before (dark rum, golden raisins, phyllo dough). I was intimidated, but then I wasn’t the one who was going to be responsible for the final product. He bought a spring-form pan, a piece of cookware I’d never even heard of, and I swallowed my impulse to call the friends we’d invited to tell them they were going to be the recipients of an experiment and to please be kind to my husband, no matter what.

We were planning dinner for 6:00 pm, but Keith said we should start cooking really early to make sure we were done in time. We started preparing the first step in the recipe at 10:00 am. Dinner was a half-hour late.

Commitment

Keith barely sat down in any of that time. Usually, even when cooking something elaborate, there are moments when ingredients are on the stove or in the oven and the cook gets to take a bit of a break (or has plenty of sous-chefs, while Keith was stuck doing it all himself because I was the next thing to useless). With the absorbing enterprise of b’stilla, we discovered that the key – previously unnoticed – word in the recipe was “meanwhile.” It occurred over and over again, every time one thing was bubbling along, there was another thing to do. Before 2:00 in the afternoon, we discovered that the true meaning of “meanwhile” was “keep going!”

I helped with the phyllo dough, brushing on melted butter, but that and greeting our friends were my contributions to the evening.

The b’stilla was exquisite, better than it had been at Dharma Greb. But what I remember most about that meal was not the taste of the food – it was how proud I was of Keith for his ambition and his talent and the generosity with which he shared that wonderful dish with our friends.

Thanks, Roby. It’s been said by many that hunger is the best sauce, but anyone who has put in the time and effort to prepare something like b’stilla knows that it’s the sweat of the cook’s brow that’s responsible for that special savor.

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.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

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Eating Authors: Jean Lamb

No Comments » Written on March 16th, 2020 by
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Jean Lamb

It’s fair to say that every day I’m doing a little bit better than the day before. It’s also true that the brain fog continues, and I’m still juggling each day’s few good hours to get things done. Which is why I recently put out a call asking for authors to reach out to me if they’d like to be on EATING AUTHORS. One of the writers who responded is Jean Lamb, and so here she is.

Jean lives in south-central Oregon and has retired from her DayJob, leaving her free to write. She’s also quite active in local politics and indulges in writing Harry Potter fanfic.

With regard to her own worlds, Jean thinks in terms of six book story arcs for each of her series, and moves forward with them simultaneously. Which means we can expect additional books in her Ghost Ship series, as well as her Chronicles of the Phoenix Empire some time soon. The Dragon’s Pearl is the second volume of her Tameron and the Dragon series.

LMS: Welcome, Jean. What’s your most memorable meal?

JL: Ah, the meal. My husband and I drive up to JR’s, once a restaurant in Klamath Falls, Oregon. As we enter, we are quickly seated and offered popcorn and water to tide us over while we look at the menu and our drink order goes back to the bar. We choose our customary meal, which is prime rib with baked potato and a few vegetables on the side.

The Dragon's Pearl

We are then served onion soup, made with the drippings of Prime Rib Past and with a hard cheesy toast down in the bottom of the bowl. It’s accompanied by a small loaf each of fresh-baked bread (still warm) and a small dish of butter (not the hard little butter squares). Our drinks come then, too—my husband with a shot of Irish, neat, while I have a glass of cabernet (it doesn’t have to be a fancy one, as my palate has barely progressed beyond box wine). But the combination of wine, soup, cheesy toast, and bread and butter are almost a meal in themselves.

Oh, Leonard (a nice older gentleman) is playing the organ, softly, and will take requests for a dollar. My husband goes up and puts one and asks for “What Is A Youth?” from the Zefferelli ROMEO AND JULIET, a date movie back in the cheapo theaters when we were dating waaay back when. We pick at the salad (just served) as a place-maker while waiting for the main course.

Phoenix in Shadow

And then it comes. The Klamath Basin is noted for its potatoes. They are grown mainly for fresh-pack and restaurant use—in fact, one article in Time Magazine decades ago said the perfect recipe for French fries started with a Klamath potato. I say this, because our platter contains a slab of prime rib cooked to perfection and almost tender enough for a fork, and a really large baked potato done just right—split open, dripping with butter, and with a small dish of butter to apply when you’ve eaten your way down to the skin. We apply ourselves to the potato first. Various condiments are available for the meat, like Worcestershire sauce, A-1, and spot of Tabasco for the adventurous.

There is silence save for the mostly quiet appreciation of the food. It soon becomes clear that we’ll be having prime rib for supper tomorrow, too, but that’s what take-out boxes are for. As the food is put into the boxes, we are offered strawberry ice cream with small peppermint candies scattered through it. Since it is well known that everyone has a small, separate stomach just for dessert, we nod our heads and enjoy it.

Dead Man's Hand

The check comes with a couple of wrapped peppermint candies. We pay, add a very good tip, and stagger out to the car, from thence to drive home and spend the rest of the evening like very happy beached whales.

Unfortunately, the restaurant isn’t there any more, at least not under that name. The owner was shot in a robbery by a burglar, who tried to cover his steps by setting it on fire. That actually saved the owner’s life, since the firefighters discovered him and made sure he had proper medical attention. He tried to keep the place going, but he just wasn’t able to after that. The older gentleman who played the organ had died prior to that.

So JR’s just isn’t there. The Mazatlan, which uses the same location, is a nice Mexican place, but just not what we remembered and loved.

Thanks, Jean. Some of the best meals seem to be from restaurants that have gone away. It makes me think of ghosts of “doggie bags” and phantom menus.

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.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

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Eating Authors: C.S.E. Cooney

No Comments » Written on March 9th, 2020 by
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C.S.E. Cooney

Without a doubt, the most frustrating aspect of my current convalescence is the daily reminder of how little I can actually get done. I can accept the weakness and fatigue — even when it’s to the point that the efforts involved in eating breakfast require an immediate postprandial nap — but the limitations imposed on me by brain fog (i.e., chemobrain) mean that most days I only have one or two hours when I can actually get work done. This has made it very difficult to hit deadlines and meet some professional obligations. Fortunately both my editors and my writing partners have been very understanding, more often than not responding to my apologies with notes of “Lawrence, don’t worry about it, just take care of yourself” which are both heartening and vexing because, again, I don’t want to be letting such kind people down.

Despite this, decisions I made a couple months ago (i.e., before my recent BMT) involving stream-lining my life still have me on track for my most productive year ever, recent medical adventures and the next few months of convalescence notwithstanding. We’ll see if it all works out as planned. Still, this has given me a greater appreciation for other authors who manage to do all the things, which is actually a pretty good segue to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, World Fantasy Award-winner C.S.E. Cooney.

In addition to her extensive (and award-winning) writing credits, Claire is a formidable narrator, with more than 100 audiobooks to her credit. She’s also a singer/songwriter and has produced three albums (Alecto! Alecto!, Headless Bride, and Corbeau Blanc, Corbeau Noir) under the name Brimstone Rhine.

Her new short novel, The Twice-Drowned Saint: Being a Tale of Fabulous Gelethel, the Invisible Wonders Who Rule There, and the Apostates Who Try to Escape Its Walls, will be out soon as part of The Sinister Quartet, a collection of long-form fictions by four different authors, coming from Mythic Delirium. I wish I had a link for you, because I think you’re going to want to pick up a copy.

LMS: Welcome, Claire. Please tell me about your most memorable meal.

CSEC: Life is long and banquets there are aplenty, and since I’m what my best friend calls “food-motivated,” many of my most extravagant celebrations center around a feast. There was the dinner we ate at Atera — a two star Michelin restaurant — two days before our wedding. There was the time I made all my friends dress up as ghost psychics, and we dined on Bailey’s chocolate cake before playing the game Mysterium. But most recently, there was the VR dinner at the James Beard House.

Desdemona and the Deep

The occasion was, ostensibly, my birthday. My husband Carlos was going to take me to eat some fancy fine Italian food somewhere in New York City. But one day at our writing group, author Joel Derfner announced that he would soon be going to the Aerobanquets RMX, a “virtual and augmented reality art and dining experience in seven bites.” I saw the look on Carlos’s face — totally shining — and I said, “I want to go there for my birthday instead.”

We arrived at the James Beard House at about a quarter till one on a Sunday, eager to “eat a Dali painting,” as I think Joel had described it. We were given a choice of either champagne or seltzer in the lobby, and the hostess passed around what she called “the pedestal” or sometimes “the chalice.”

Bone Swans

It was a small object, the size of a tea cup, but velveted and flat on top. It had a little lip or divot on one end, and on the opposite side of that, a button such as one might find on a video game controller. She explained that while we had the VR headset on, we would see, at some point in each of the seven scenes we would be experiencing, something like this pedestal/chalice shape come floating toward us. We were to put our hands out and reach for it. We could orient our mouths to the lip by feeling where the button was on the back; the lip was always going to be opposite the button.

When the other couple who had signed up for our same experience slot arrived (there were four seats open every hour or so), we were given a short tour of celebrated chef James Beard’s house — which was also a school for chefs, and is now his foundation. Up three flights of stairs we trundled, and then into a small, unprepossessing room. We sat in chairs that swiveled. Each of us was given a different VR headset, which was hooked up to a different operating system. We’d all be seeing essentially the same scenes play out, but we could go through the scenes at our own pace.

The Witch in the Almond Tree

So much of that experience seems like a dream now. The vines and flowers unfurling all around me. The nebulae burning under my feet while a moon burned like a spotlight above me. The meat instruments that played discordant notes when we reached out to touch them: a ham hock guitar, a side-of-beef piano. My own hands — which were not at all like my hands — patterned in leaves or spots, reaching to pull the pedestal/chalice with its bite-sized bolus of food toward me, while the narrator said something calm about “the taste of your first regret.” The spices I associate with Indian cuisine — rose and pistachio and cardamom — and the different textural layers of the food: cool, warm, crunchy, silky, chewy, growing more complex as I chomped.

And last of all, a scene of sinking into a milk-white sea, or perhaps a cloud bank, while fallen colossi loomed all around me. All of us were sinking together, the giants and I, as that white wave rose up. I did not feel like I was drowning; it felt peaceful. But others confessed later to being uneasy, even mildly panicked. My husband was curious; he stood up from his chair to see if he could keep his chin above the milky wave. He did, but to do so meant he entered a space of blackness — where the credits came from as the show ended.

It wasn’t — in the end — quite as much like eating a Dali painting as I had hoped. But it was by far the weirdest, wildest, most wonderlandish meal I have ever eaten. And I’d do it again and bring all my friends — so long as VR was pleasurable, and not disorienting, to their senses.

Thanks, Claire. That sounds like a remarkable experience, surreal and delightful all at once. And, given the location, I have to believe the actual food, every “bite-sized bolus,” was pretty remarkable as well.

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.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

#SFWApro

Eating Authors: Parker Peevyhouse

No Comments » Written on March 2nd, 2020 by
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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.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

#SFWApro

Eating Authors: Gini Koch

No Comments » Written on February 24th, 2020 by
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Gini Koch

As anticipated, the convalescence moves at glacial speed. I tend to sleep in 90 minute chunks with 30 minute breaks of wakefulness. I cruise around the house in a t-shirt, sweatpants, and socks, bingeing on Netflix (I just rewatched the brilliant Sense8), eating soup for at least one meal each day, reading Nebula Award nominees, and taking my pain pills dutifully in a six hour rotation. If the fog of chemobrain parts, I manage maybe an hour of writing. Maybe. More likely, the world starts feeling heavier and heavier as the sun goes down and I am done.

The massive weight loss — due in part to adding on 26 lbs of water weight from days of IV feeds, and in part from minimal intake while in hospital, and in part to my body being in overdrive as it builds a new immune system — has finally slowed, pretty much topping out at 44 lbs over nine days.

Still, I am feeling ever so slightly better from one day to the next, which is how it’s supposed to work.

No segue for you this week, I’m just going to flat out say that the EATING AUTHORS guest is Gini Koch, and how pleased I am to have her here. If you’re not familiar with Gini’s Alien series (aka the Katherine “Kitty” Katt series) then you’ve been hiding under a rock that resists DAW Books. It’s currently at 16 volumes, with promises of at least another 4 as the rigors of life resolve themselves. This is in addition to novels of undead police procedurals and space opera royalty.

Gini also writes under a variety of pseudonyms: G.J. Koch for her humorous space pirates, J.C. Koch for Pacific Rim monsters, Jemma Chase for time traveling vampires, Anita Ensal for fantastical short fiction, A.E. Stanton for a kind of post apocalyptic westerns. Whatever name she’s using, whatever genres she’s bending and blending, the delight she’s having writing comes through.

LMS: Welcome Gini, what meals stands out as your most memorable?

GK: In the olden days of my just-out-of-youth, we lived in Southern California. At this time, we were living in Granada Hills – which is part of the San Fernando Valley and where the hubs grew up – in a nice, large one-bedroom apartment with not one but TWO sleeper sofas. We were Vacation Central for all our friends who, like us, were in their early-to-mid 20’s and basically broke.

One set of those friends were getting married and therefore all our mutual friends were invited. While I did then and still do love and adore the groom (he’s the one who introduced me to the hubs, after all), he did then and still does fall on the, ah, thrifty side of the house. So, while the wedding was lovely, the nice reception at 4pm only served hors d’oeuvres. For an hour.

Touched by an Alien

Needless to say, most of us at the reception were starving by the time the reception was over. One of my BFFs from college was at the wedding. At the time she was married to a handsome Marine, but he was on duty. So, a different handsome Marine escorted her to this wedding, seeing as Officer’s Wives were not supposed to go stag or some such.

They were also staying at our apartment because, shockingly, officer’s salaries aren’t as impressive as one would hope. The Stand-in Marine (which is what we’re going to call him from now on, because while I think his name was Andy, I’m not prepared to swear to it after all this time) was freaking out about staying in our one-bedroom apartment with “another gentleman’s wife” despite us sharing that we had TWO sleeper sofas and were, therefore, the height of propriety because no one had to bunk together in that sense.

The four of us decided that we were going to literally die if we didn’t get some food, and my and all my closest college girlfriends’ favorite restaurant was just a short ways away. La Frite was an adorable French bistro on Ventura Blvd. that made the best food and even better souffles. The four of us headed there.

The Night Beat

The food was fantastic, as always, and we were not rushing to finish our meals. Keep in mind that we’d been at a wedding – we were dressed up. Stand-In Marine was in his dress blues, the hubs was in his (only) nice suit, and me and my BFF were in fancy dresses. With high heels. In that day (the mid-to-late-80’s), I never wore a heel less than 4 inches, and the ones I was in that day were probably 5 inches without breaking a sweat. My feet hurt.

So, while eating, I slipped out of my shoes. The tables at La Frite were rounds supported by single metal posts on a metal X, which was bolted down on all four ends. The bolts were smooth and they were great for rubbing your feet. Which I did. From well before we’d ordered drinks on through the meal.

During all this time, Stand-In Marine was getting antsier and antsier, and acting more and more stressed and odd. The rest of us had no idea what his problem was with great French food in a casual setting, but we ignored his weirdness because we were nice people and we kept on eating, drinking, and yapping. And I keep on rubbing my feet.

I still remember the exact moment when I moved my right foot just a little differently and felt something that shouldn’t be there – laces. Using my left foot, I checked for the bolt. Sure enough, my right foot was nowhere near the bolt. And I hadn’t moved my right leg much at all.

I stared at Stand-In Marine. He looked like a trapped animal with nowhere to go.

The Royal Scam

“Ah,” I said carefully, “um, I have to ask this. Have I been rubbing my feet on your shoe for this entire meal?”

Keep in mind that the hubs and my BFF knew me well. Before Stand-In Marine could reply, they were both laughing hysterically.

“Yes, ma’am,” Stand-In Marine managed to croak out. “That’s my shoe.”

Now I was laughing hysterically, too, while apologizing profusely and, per the onlookers, turning a lovely shade of Embarrassed Red. My girlfriend made Stand-In Marine look at the bolts on the floor – she’d been using them in the same way I’d thought I was. This managed to relax him enough that we no longer feared he was going to throw up or run screaming into the street.

“Oh, my God,” the hubs managed. “Your expression. You thought you were going to be sleeping at Swinger Central tonight.” He and my friend went off into more gales of laughter.

“Most guys wanted to do a three-some or four-some with us in college,” my girlfriend added as she and the hubs literally collapsed against each other they were laughing so hard. “I’m kind of sad we’ve lost our appeal.”

Stand-In Marine was back to trapped. “Ah, no insults intended, ladies.”

“None taken,” I said. “My feet feel a whole lot better. Your shoes are a far better massage tool than the bolts.”

Thanks, Gini. The question I’m wondering is: has Stand-In-Marine told his version of this story, or has he kept it to himself all this time?

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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Eating Authors: Nicole Grotepas

2 comments Written on February 17th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
Tags:
Nicole Grotepas

I am home from the hospital and easing into what will probably be at least three months of convalescence. I expect to be very frustrated by this as I have so much to do but the fog of chemobrain is, thus far, greatly limiting how much I can manage. At a minimum though, I should be able to post these weekly EATING AUTHOR features, and as proof here’s this week’s guest, Nicole Grotepas.

Nicole is another of the incredible Indie authors I met in Las Vegas last November. She describes her writing as coming from an uncommon starting point: surveillance, and how it affects not merely human behavior, but classic SF themes such as colonization, AI, and robots. In particular, the books in her series A Holly Drake Job are a charming blend steampunk and space opera. The fifth book, Birth of the Colossus, comes out on the 27th.

LMS: Welcome, Nicole. What stands out as your most memorable meal?

NG: The problem is that I love food–so it’s incredibly hard to choose!

But, what seems to stick with me the most ferociously are the meals that were made by someone I know, in their home.

Gears of Aether

So, basically, a meal that I’ve never been able to forget was this super casual affair in my cousin’s kitchen. His wife, who was from Mexico, prepared what she called traditional enchiladas.

My husband was there, though we had just started dating when this happened. Veronica prepared each enchilada individually. I don’t know that everything was made fresh, but I think it was — fresh pico de Gallo from ingredients grown in her garden. Or maybe in her window sill — something romantic like that (I romanticize everything, especially memories of amazing meals).

The startling thing for me was that the enchiladas were filled with potatoes (I realize now that this isn’t that crazy, but at that time for me, it was). She cooked each one in a small cast iron skillet, topped them with pico de Gallo, and some type of freshly grated white Mexican cheese, and then placed each finished enchilada on our plates.

Feed

It was very informal, and all of it was done as we stood around the stove talking to her as she cooked them. Stoker chatted in Spanish with her and she told us all about her process and where her family was from in Mexico. I had known Veronica for many years and had learned how to make salsa verde using her family recipe, but that might have been only the first or second time Stoker met Veronica.

Ever since then, I’ve been on the lookout for enchiladas made with potatoes. But I’ve never run into them or Veronica’s process for cooking them, which maybe isn’t that crazy. One reason I think it became even more singular and prized to me was because it blew my mind and further illustrated to me how important family recipes are in perpetuating family culture, as well as our social culture. When Stoker and I ended up getting married, Veronica gave us a cast iron skillet just like the one she cooked the enchiladas in.

Thanks, Nicole. I confess, I’m still trying to wrap my head around potatoes in enchiladas. It’s like the kind of evidence you note when you’ve stumbled into a parallel world that’s identical to your own except for one thing. Potatoes.

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.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

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Eating Authors: K. Moore

No Comments » Written on February 10th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
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K. Moore

As I may have mentioned before, February is my month for time travel. And if I didn’t mention it before, that’s probably because either it hasn’t happened yet, or I did but you don’t recall because that version of your timeline has been erased. Time travel is like that.

If temporal paradoxes give you headaches, perhaps it’s simpler to believe that I’m setting today’s post up a couple weeks in advance because I expect (have expected? will have been expecting?) being in the hospital on this date and wanted to make sure you’d have something to read today. Yeah, let’s go with that.

In a perfect world, I’d have a very cool, time travel-related segue here to introduce you to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest. Mind you, in a perfect world, I wouldn’t have gone into the hospital two weeks ago, so suck it up, buttercup, no segue for you. Which is a shame because there’s not really all that much I can tell you about K. Moore other than that she’s from Australia, and that when we met last November at the 20BooksVegas conference she plied me with imported (to me) chocolate. And yes, now you know, chocolate is a surefire way to get an invitation to be featured here.

Having already traveled the world, K. now lives in Alaska with her family and a Karelian bear dog. She writes thrillers, which is a bit of a departure from most guests here. I blame the chocolate.

Her next book, All For Mother comes out in November.

LMS: Welcome, K. Got any more chocolate? No? Okay, that’s fair. How about you tell me about your most memorable meal?

KM: In mid-2002, months after the Taliban fled Kabul, I joined a French non-governmental organization (NGO) that was supporting a mix of humanitarian programs in the country. Based in Kabul I traveled extensively across the country, and was given the opportunity to experience the hospitality and warmth of various Afghan communities — sharing a meal was key to building good will.

With the Taliban in retreat, Kabul and the surrounding provinces had a new and exciting feel. UN and NGO workers rushed around trying to understand what they could do to assist, with talk of reforms and freedoms for the people the language of the day. Sadly, this early hope has since foundered, but it was very heady days.

The influx of organizations providing aid and assistance saw the opening of cafes and restaurants to cater to the growing international community. These places were safe, behind razor-wire covered walls, and offering western fare for exorbitant prices. Alcohol could be bought on the black market, cheap Russian vodka going for USD 50 a bottle. Hashish was also readily available. While I did visit such places on occasion, the true joy was in the village, breaking bread with Afghans on their terms.

Desert Rose

On this one occasion, we were driving north from Kabul into the then heavily mined Shomali Plain for a meeting with a group of Afghans to discuss their community’s needs. The green of the Shomali in the spring was breathtaking, belying the reality of injury or death that could occur with one wrong step. Our convoy of white vehicles caused interest as we traversed the pock-marked, dusty roads.

Arriving at our intended destination, the children scampered away, chasing clucking groups of free-range hens out of the way as we parked alongside a high mud wall. They hesitantly came back, curiosity winning over their fear, to peer at the group of foreigners. My presence, the only female in the entourage, was especially interesting to them. Local women wore burqas in public, the full head to toe covering, while I — as a Western woman — could get away with a headscarf and modest clothing that covered my arms and legs.

We were ushered into the village leader’s hall, and asked to sit on cushions and wait. Earthen walls and wooden beams surrounded us, silent witnesses to much of the community’s history. Plied with both dark (Chai Siyaa) and green tea (Chai Sabz) and sugar-coated almonds, I relaxed on the floor from the journey waiting for our hosts to arrive, watching a mulberry tree sway gently through a hole in the wall. As was their custom, the men of the village didn’t want to discuss business immediately. They just talked — about the weather, the village, daily news, and only afterwards about the business at hand. My input was minimal, but when I did ask a question or raise a point, I would note the furrowed brows of the Afghan men.

Following the initial conversation, a large mat was brought out and laid before us. Before long, mounds of Afghan naan bread and a mix of local dishes were spread across it by the women; no dishes or silverware apparent.

It was a simple fare; Kabuli palaw, a national dish, rich with rice and meat and topped with fried raisins, slivered carrots, and pistachios. A light coating of caramelized sugar on the rice gives it a golden-brown colour. Taking cues of our hosts, I used the naan as a spoon to scoop the communal food to my mouth.

All For Mother

The bread, though simple, was amazing, the flavours of earthen wheat chasing the rice and chunks of roasted lamb. The palaw, a lovely blend of savoury and sweet, with the delicate, sweet, flavour of fried carrots and raisins plus the caramelized sugar going well with the salty richness of the rice and meat. Almonds, pistachios and cashews offer additional texture and richness to the dish.

Sitting back on our cushions, sipping even more tea, contemplating the lines on every face, the food took on even more meaning. I realized that the village had all come together to prepare the meal, each family offering something, their honor and dignity as Afghans at stake. We were guests, and we were to be treated well even if it meant some might go without.

Looking for a bit of fresh air, I walked outside and a group of young girls whispered and giggled as they waved me over to another building. Hesitantly, I headed over, with a quick look over my shoulder to the rest of our contingent as they milled outside the hall. Stepping around a small wall, I came face to face with three women around a well. They smiled and made washing motions, handing me a well used cloth to clean my face and hands. Realizing no men were about, I took off my headscarf and used a small bucket to draw water to wash the meal’s remnants from my face.

Small hands reached out to touch my hair, rolling the sun-bleached ends between their fingers. The older ladies shooed them away, giving me an apologetic look. I remember laughing and stumbling over words in my limited Dari vocabulary to tell them it was okay. In broken English one of the older women asked me if I enjoyed lunch.

With the meeting having concluded, I smiled and quickly returned to where the vehicles were parked. Upon arriving it struck me, as always, that there had been no women in the hall. But the meal was theirs, prepared by their hands, born of care and a timeless skill that gave nourishment as well as pleasure. Here with these women, there was no thin fabric to separate us, we were the same, if but for an all too fleeting moment. In sharing the meal they prepared, they were in that hall, even if I was at first too blind to see.

Thanks, K. That’s a wistful and haunting image, those women present by the grace and skill of their hands, in the room where their presence was not permitted. I’ll be pondering that for a while.

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.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

#SFWApro