The photo above, shows a Great Gatsby-inspired meal. From the website, it states: Waldorf Salad in a lettuce cup, and deviled egg, photographed in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. http://www.denverpost.com. I think it’s a great photo, and really sets the tone for what this blog series is about.
Today begins a month-long series, where some of my writerly friends and I will be sharing a little bit about our books, and recipes and foods which are inspired by them. I intend to share a new post each week of October, highlighting an author or two, each time.
Planning this series was meaningful to me. Foods and customs help to shape who we all are. When writing, it’s important to include those types of things, because it helps create character depth, and brings a more intimate knowledge of the story to light. When I read a novel, I want to feel like I live with those characters for a while. This blog series is an attempt to bring you, the Reader, closer to living within the pages of our novels. Join us!
For the first post in the series, I introduce you to J.M. Frey, the author of The Accidental Turn Series. Here she is, posting in her own words.
Bevel Dom’s Questing Cuisine
by J.M. Frey
One of the most fun parts of world building is figuring out the cuisines of the world. What grows in this climate? What is their staple grain? How often do they go to market? What kind of growing season do they get? Do they trade with neighbors, or neighboring counties, or neighboring countries? Do the highborn eat the same foods as the peasantry? Who gets to hunt on what land, and what sort of creatures do they consider food-animals over pet-animals?
For my novels and novellas in The Accidental Turn series, I firmly established a world where bread, cheese, European-style fruits and root vegetables, and farmed meat were the standards of faire. But my rogue and roving heroes – Kintyre Turn and Bevel Dom – were more likely to live off the land. Venison, eel, dried fruit and nuts, and foraged potatoes were more their speed. And in a world were exotic spices were non-existent and everyone – everyone human that is – had a kitchen garden filled with the same herbs, Bevel kept a string of cylindrical tins attached to his sword belt, and the spice blends he’d wheedled out of centaur chefs and night elf kitchen maids were his greatest treasure.
In his seventeen years as a roaming sword-for-hire, Bevel developed several clever and ingenious ways to serve up road-rations and just-caught creatures to make them palatable to two hungry Heroes. Here is one of them:
Bevel, trying to break through the heavy atmosphere, hands one of the leaf-wrapped packages to me, and the other to Kintyre. Wordlessly, Kintyre holds it out to Pip, and Pip, equally wordlessly, takes it. I take my own from Bevel, accepting the temporary truce, and it is still hot; it singes my fingertips a little. It steams as I unwrap it, and I am pleased to see that it is a sort of roll made up of meat wrapped around dried fruit. It is juicy and delicious, and I realize how hungry I am on the first bite.
“We’ve been doing this part of adventuring wrong,” Pip moans around her own mouthful.
Bevel pinks again. “I’ve had a long time to practice. Luckily, Kin was willing to put up with my experimentation.”
“And I’m lucky Bevel actually enjoys cooking and was willing to experiment,” Kin says around a mouthful. “We got sick of standard travel fare pretty quick.”
BEVEL’S SWEET MEAT ROLLS
- Venison, pounded flat (rehydrated from salted jerky is fine, if you have the time to soak it for a few hours), at least the size of your hand.
- Dried berries – plums, cranberries and raisins preferred – rehydrated by soaking them in whatever liquor you happen to have to hand. Soak them for at least an hour.
- Some dried nuts, roasted in a pan over your cookfire, if you like.
- Large, thick, non-poisonous leaves – an acceptable equivalent in the Overrealm would be Banana leaves. Tinfoil would also be acceptable.
- A Centaur Sweet and Savory Spice Blend – the Overrealm equivalent would be cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, sea salt, white pepper, and thyme blended to taste.
Build up your camp fire in advance so that by the time you’ve prepared your rolls the embers are hot and cherry red. Pour three handfuls of dried fruit into your travel cup and soak it with liquor – whiskey, sherry, or brandy work best. Wait until all the liquid has been absorbed into the fruit; while you’re doing that pound your cuts of meat flat and lay them on the leaves. Muddle and chop the fruit and nuts together, and spread a thin layer over the meat. Sprinkle with your spice blend. Roll the meat and fruit mixture like a scroll, fold the leaf around it (making sure to tuck in the edges to the fire doesn’t crisp them), and secure all with a bit of string soaked with water. Place the whole package on the edge of the fire, and leave for upwards of an hour, until the meat is at your preferred cooking level, or your companion is complaining of hunger. Serve with a trencher of bread if you have any. Potatoes, baked in the fire, work just as well.
Or, I suppose y0u could do it on the Barbeque, if you want to cheat.
J.M. is a voice actor, SF/F author, fanthropologist and professional smartypants on AMI Radio’s Live From Studio 5. She’s appeared in podcasts, documentaries, and on television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. She also has an addiction to scarves, Doctor Who, and tea, which may or may not all be related. Her life’s ambitions are to have stepped foot on every continent (only 3 left!) @scifrey | http://www.jmfrey.net/
You can find out more about Bevel Dom and The Accidental Turn series here.