188?mobile site_free login fun bet ideas_login bonus latest casino bonuses no deposit bonus

Eating Authors: Alexandra Rowland

No Comments » Written on January 21st, 2019 by
Categories: Plugs
Alexandra Rowland

In theory, as you’re reading this, I should be safely back from Detroit, deliriously exhausted from a long weekend with friends and colleagues, and smug that I did not over-indulge while away. If I’m in a particularly righteous mood, it no doubt means that I had the discipline to slip away from the festivities each day and write for a couple of hours. But of course, all that awaits me in my future because I’m setting this up to post a week or so in advance, because I’m pretty sure I’ll be too busy during the convention to even remember to do so otherwise

For the current work-in-progress, I’ve been writing a chapter involving magic drawn from the elemental plane of existence, specifically water elementals. That’s as much as a segue as I can muster to introduce this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Alexandra Rowland, who though she currently resides in western Massachusetts grew up on a sailboat in the Bahamas. As a life-long land lubber, reading that sentence fills my brain with endless questions about common events of childhood that I’m sure I took for granted at the time. Unfortunately for me, I’m only permitted to ask a single question of guests here, and we all know what it is.

Alexandra’s most recent novel, A Conspiracy of Truths, features a storyteller protagonist. That alone was enough to hook me. But then she went and added some conflict (because most of you like your books to have, you know, a plot). So, naturally enough, the storyteller is arrested for that classic one-two punch of being both a witch and a spy. I’d tell you more, but I want you to go and buy the book yourself.

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

AR: At the beginning of 2014, my father died–terminal lung cancer. We’d only caught it about two months before. Within two weeks of first hearing the diagnosis, I quit my job in St Louis and had moved back home to Florida, where I told my obviously distraught mother in no uncertain terms that when the worst happened, I was going to force her out of the house to have an adventure. We spent five months in Europe, from May to September.

A month or so into the journey, our paths diverged—she went to Italy to visit a friend, and I headed up into Scandinavia. I landed in Oslo very late at night (though it was far enough into summer that the sky at midnight was little darker than twilight), only to discover that the last bus to the hotel had left half an hour previously. “Well, shit,” I thought.

It was the first time I was ever alone in a foreign country.

A Conspiracy of Truths

To be fair, though, a no-darker-than-twilight night in Oslo is a pretty safe place for a female-presenting English speaker to be alone. It’s an interesting thing, aloneness—no one to tell you what to do, no one to help you, but also no expectations and no one to please or consider but yourself.

I spent almost all my cash on a taxi to the hotel, which, I discovered when I arrived at half-past midnight, was in a series of buildings that appeared to be like nothing so much as a renovated military barracks, surrounded by thick Norwegian forest. When I went to check in, the attendant told me they didn’t have my reservation in the system.

After a tedious process which I am sure you can imagine well enough that I need not explain, the reservation was found. The room I was given was tiny, the bathroom miniscule, but it was clean and the narrow, lumpy twin bed was sufficient for my purposes. I woke up again at sunrise—which was at 4am—and, blearily cursing the whole idea of latitude and discovering that the window did not have blinds, did what I could to drape a blanket across it to block out the light and get a couple more hours of rest.

At a more civilized hour of the morning, I discovered there was no hotel breakfast, nor a convenience store. I briefly entertained the idea of entering the forest behind the so-called “hotel” to become a hunter-gatherer, because the bus to the city would take nearly an hour and I was already starving. I hunted-and-gathered half of a stale, forgotten cookie from the bottom of my purse and reflected upon some of my life choices while I waited at the bus stop with the forest at my back. In the city, I couldn’t find an ATM, so I spent the last of my cash on fruit and snacks and a couple microwaveable packets of soup. I saw what sights I could, walked until my feet were ready to fall off, braced myself for the highway-robbery credit card fees to buy a ticket to a museum.

The bus back to the hotel was delayed, and when I finally got there again, footsore and very tired and once again starving, I discovered that I could not, in fact, microwave the packets of soup, as there was no microwave. Not in the room, and not at the desk. I briefly considered having a short, therapeutic cry.

In the End

But that’s the thing about aloneness—no one to please but yourself, and no one to annoy but yourself. If I’d been with anyone else, all the little inconveniences of the trip might have built up. We would have expressed our frustration to each other, building it up together into something twice as bad as it really was. We might have started thinking that this leg of the trip was unpleasant, even catastrophic. We might have even argued.

But there was no one else. Just me, frustrated and starving and alone, making choices about inconveniently located hotels and misremembering the appliances present in the room, and dealing with each new thing as it arose and bearing the consequences of my choices by myself, because there was nothing else to do but solve the problem in front of me: The taxi had to be paid for, the window had to be covered, the bus took the time that it took, the credit card fees were what they were.

And at the end of a long day, I could slurp cold, congealed soup directly out of a packet (no spoon, no bowl or cup), or I could be creative. I could fix things for myself too. No one else was going to.

I filled the tiny sink in the tiny bathroom with scalding hot water and let the soup packet float in it until it was warm, and then I ate it, sitting in the middle of the floor (no chair or table). I noticed then that the room was floored with these silvery pine boards that were, actually, remarkably beautiful. I noticed too that with the window flung open, I could catch the deep, ancient smell of the forest. The sun was warm, the breeze comfortably cool. And even slurped out of the packet, that soup was delicious.

Thanks, Alexandra. At first, I thought you were describing Franz Kafka’s most memorable meal, and then, as if by an act of will, the magic came out. Of course, being alone, no one else was there to share in it, until now.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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.


Eating Authors: Mel Gilden

No Comments » Written on January 14th, 2019 by
Categories: Plugs
Mel Gilden

As we close in on the midpoint of the month, I have to say that I am loving the new year. I’m sleeping better, eating better, exercising more, and (most importantly) writing a lot more. Life is good, so much so that in a few days I’m treating myself to a bit of travel and heading off to Detroit for ConFusion where, according to the current version of the schedule, I have several panels, a signing on Saturday at 4pm, and a reading on Sunday at noon. Stop in and say “howdy” if you’re going to be at the convention.

This week’s EATING AUTHOR guest is a particular delight to have. I first encountered Mel Gilden’s work back in the late 80’s when I acquired a paperback of the newly released Surfing Samurai Robots from the Dangerous Visions bookstore in Sherman Oaks. An alien detective named Zoot Marlowe, surfing robots, the California sun, and an industrial genius with a name like Knighten Daise —?what more could you want? The book was a wacky mix of Raymond Chandler and Douglas Adams and I loved it. It was only in preparing this introduction that I discovered that Mel had returned to the series a few years later and written two more books. I’ve already added them to my overburdened To Be Read list.

Mel’s other fiction includes children’s books, various media tie-in novels (everything from Beverly Hills 90210 to Star Trek), and television cartoons. He’s been a consultant for both Disney and Universal, developing theme park attractions. And for five years he was the co-host of Hour 25, an SF radio interview show in Los Angeles. Given that I grew up there (well, okay, in Culver City), I’m a little flummoxed that our paths never crossed. But hey, I’ve got him here now, so it’s all good.

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

MG: Thanks for asking. I do in fact recall a meal, or rather a whole set of meals:

I was going to write about the wonderful dinners my sweetie puts together, often at the last minute. But we are both still alive and healthy, and I live in hope that other, even more spectacular, dinners will appear as time goes on. So I decided to write about my grandmother—my mother’s mother—who was known to everybody as Ma, no matter how they were actually related.

Dr. Big

Back when I was a kid in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Ma would invite local family members to dinner once or twice a year. She must have been 60 or more by then, but as far as I know, she did all the cooking herself. She and her husband had come from Latvia in their twenties, so everything she made had an East European aroma and flavor. This was okay with me. I love that stuff. On the rare occasions when I experience such an aroma now, I spend a lot of time just inhaling.

In those days, nobody in the group worried about fat, sugar, or gluten, so the table was loaded down with so much meat, starch, and a selection of vegetables that you could not actually see the table.

Dinner always began with chicken soup – homemade, of course. I still remember the little puddles of chicken fat floating in the soup among the alphabets and thin noodles – always both because we kids liked both. The soup was very good, but I never ate as much of it as I wanted because I knew what was coming.

The meat I liked best was the egg-shaped hamburgers, perhaps because each of them contained bits of carrot and spinach that gave them an extraordinary flavor that I still haven’t forgotten after all these years.

Surfing Samurai Robots

There were potatoes, of course, but I preferred to eat the noodles in various forms, my favorite being noodle kugel. Kugel means pudding. It was put together in a big baking pan, mostly filled with noodles that had been mixed with raisins and spices and perhaps an egg or two to hold the whole thing together, then baked until it was a solid mass. I have never been too sure about the preparation details. I only know that I loved it.

You may be surprised to learn that dessert was not my favorite part of the meal. The honey cake was all right, but Ma used to make something called teiglach. This was an enormous knot of thick pretzel-like dough that had been cooked, or at least dipped, in honey. I’ve never been a big fan of honey, and you could crack your teeth on the dough part, and besides, the honey got all over everything. I think some of the adults ate it.

Calories were not a concern. I know that I myself had seconds of my favorite dishes and occasional thirds. Nor was I alone in this. After a while, lifting a full fork or spoon to our mouths was more than we could manage.

The Jabberwock Came Whiffling

When dinner was over, the female members of the crowd gathered in the kitchen to wash dishes and make expert commentary on the food while the males sprawled in the living room with their belts, and frequently their pants, undone. There was a lot of moaning and groaning. What little conversation there was consisted of promises never to eat again.

When the dishes were done, Ma would enter the living room and announce, “Nobody ate! Look at all this food left over!” Everybody departed from the house with a CARE package full of what we liked best. The leftovers might last for days, but it was never long enough.

In later years, I tried to get my mother, and now my sweetie, to attempt some of the food that Ma used to make, but it is a difficult job. I’ve even tried it myself without much success. There are no recipes. She never used them. Though she may have made a few extra grocery purchases, mostly she just used what she had in the house.

We have had some success with kugel and beet borscht, but the secrets of Ma’s hamburger and chicken soup are still mysteries, and probably will be forever.

Thanks, Mel. I feel like we must surely be related. Reading of Ma’s cooking has stirred up memories of my own maternal grandmother’s cooking (don’t get me started on her knadles). On her first visit to Los Angeles, she got off the plane carrying two shopping bags. One contained a giant bottle of homemade kosher pickles, and the other a massive container of chicken fat (in case she couldn’t get that in California).

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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.


Eating Authors – 2018 Recap

No Comments » Written on January 11th, 2019 by
Categories: News


There were fifty-three Mondays in 2018, beginning on January 1st and ending on December 31st, 2018. Which means some fifty-three writers stopped in and shared their most memorable meals here on EATING AUTHORS.

Below you’ll find an alphabetized list of 2018’s authors, with each name linking to the respective meal. My thanks to the many authors who shared their time and tastes last year, and thanks also to all of you who came by to dine with them.

A: Omar El Akkad, Michael Anderle, Dyrk Ashton :A

B: Richard Baker, Josiah Bancroft, Sue Burke, T. J. Berry, Gustavo Bondoni :B

C: Bryan Camp, Ryan Campbell, Gwendolyn Clare,
Russ Colchamiro, Liz Colter, Ellison Cooper :C

D: Indrapramit Das, Delilah S. Dawson, David Demchuk :D

F: Terri Favro, Jeremy Finley, Jason Franks :F

G: Jasmine Gower, Mareth Griffith, Leigh Grossman :G

H: Kate Heartfield, Leanna Renee Hieber :H

K: Christopher Kastensmidt, Chris Kennedy, Sarah Kuhn, Derek Künsken :K

L: William Ledbetter, Henry Lien, Jane Lindskold :L

M: Craig Martelle, J.D. Moyer, Michael Moreci :M

N: Jeannette Ng, Wendy Nikel :N

P: David Pedreira, Vina Prasad :P

R: Jessica Reisman, Rebecca Roanhorse , w88 companyKelly Robson, Amber Royer :R

S: S. L. Saboviec, Catherine Schaff-Stump, N. J. Schrock, Caitlin Seal,
Peng Shepherd, Delia Sherman, Andrea G. Stewart :S

T: R. J. Theodore, Brian Trent :T

W: Nick Wood :W

Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you each new author’s meal as soon as it posts.

Eating Authors: Edward Willett

No Comments » Written on January 7th, 2019 by
Categories: Plugs
Edward Willett

Welcome to the first installment of EATING AUTHORS for 2019. The weather’s still pretty mild in my corner of the world, and of course I’m tempting fate by typing that (which, given that I’m flying to Detroit in ten days may be quite risky indeed). Still, less than a week into the new year and things are looking pretty good on both personal and professional fronts. Is Fate lulling me into a false complacency or am I simply cashing in some of the backlog of karma accrued in 2018? I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, please welcome this week’s guest, Edward Willett, who’s up in Canada (Regina, Saskatchewan, to be precise) where it’s about 20° colder. The lower temperatures up there may explain why he keeps so busy. Sure, he writes novels, including a multiple YA series under his own name and as E.C. Blake, but in addition to novels he also writes plays and nonfiction, performs as an actor and singer, and also hosts local television programs and emcees public events.

His latest book, Worldshaper , is the first in a new series, and has what may be one of the best covers I’ve seen in a long while. I’ve added it to my to-be-read stack for 2019.

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

EW: How hard a question can that be? Harder than you’d think. There’s not even an easy out, like, “I can’t remember my most memorable meal.” English lets us write that sequence of words, but they’re self-contradictory: it’s impossible to forget your most memorable meal, because by definition, if it’s memorable, you remember it.


Yes, I’m stalling.

Okay, so, I remember lots of meals, which makes them all memorable. But which one rises to the very top?

The question is complicated by the fact that my wife and I make a point of seeking out interesting restaurants—like the one in Spearfish, South Dakota (to give one example) run by an ex-New York chef who had moved back home (all I remember of the meal, though, is the South Dakotan wine—pear, not grape—I couldn’t have a glass because I was driving and we had my elderly mother with us and there was no way even one glass would not have earned motherly disapproval). We’ve eaten at Top Chef-contestant (and winner) restaurants, great hotels, mountaintop patio restaurants, and the now sadly departed International Wine and Food Festival at the Banff Springs hotel, where the meals were remarkably memorable, considering there would be flights of four or five (or more) different wines to accompany them.

But ultimately, I think I’d have to go with a meal that ties closely to my writing career: my very first DAW dinner.


DAW Books has a wonderful tradition of arranging an extremely good meal for whichever of its authors are present at the World Science Fiction and World Fantasy conventions. My first original novel for DAW, Marseguro, came out in February 2008, and although I’d talked to my editor/publisher, Sheila E. Gilbert, I’d never met her. WorldCon was in Denver that year, a not-unreasonable distance from our home in Regina, Saskatchewan, so we drove down…and for the first time, I got to attend a DAW dinner.

The location was spectacular: the Independence Room in the Brown Palace, a beautiful private room whose panoramic wallpaper, painted by Jean Zuber et Cie in Rixheim, Alsace, France, in 1834, is one of only two existing original painted wallpapers in America (the other is in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House). (And no, I didn’t remember all those details off the top of my head, but isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing?)

The company was engaging: it was the first time I met, not only Sheila and Betsy, but other DAW authors, such as my fellow Canadian Tanya Huff.

The food, I know, was equally wonderful, although I don’t remember exactly what it was (I’m sure we still have the menu tucked away somewhere, but I can’t put my hands on it), with one exception that also made the experience stand out.

When plans for the dinner were being mooted, I’d told Sheila that Margaret Anne and I would be there, but that we would be traveling with our seven-year-old daughter, Alice. Would she be able to attend?

Song of the Sword

Sheila was a little hesitant, explaining that it was a very grown-up dinner, but I assured her Alice was used to attending grown-up dinners (in fact, from time to time she complains about the number of grown-up dinners she’s had to attend) and would be fine. And she was, making a hugely favorable impression on Sheila and Betsy and the others—and also illustrating for me how a truly fine restaurant deals with unusual situations.

While, as I’ve noted, I don’t remember the details of the menu, I do know that very little of it was designed to appeal to a seven-year-old girl’s palate. But that wasn’t a problem at all: the waiter asked her what she’d like, and she said macaroni and cheese, and the chef made it for her—so well, in fact, that she still remembers that as some of the best macaroni and cheese of her life, and that dinner is one of her most memorable ones, too, even though she’s now in her last year of high school.

The dinner, though held in a historic room in a high-end restaurant in a historic hotel with people I’d never met until then, felt very much like a family dinner, and it was my introduction to what Betsy and Sheila like to call the DAW family: the family I’ve been thrilled to be a part of now for nine novels and counting.

There have been more memorable DAW dinners since then, and all of them rise high on my list of the best meals of my life—but that first one, to which I and my family were so warmly welcomed, remains a highlight, not just of my adventures in dining, but of my entire career.

Thanks, Edward. I have several fond memories of meals during the Denver Worldcon, but yours makes me want to nudge my agent to push for selling my next book to DAW. Heh, if only it were that easy.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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.


Eating Authors: Jeremy Finley

No Comments » Written on December 24th, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
Jeremy Finley

As part of the year winding down, last week I blew out a tire on my new car. When I bought the car a couple months ago, I sprang for the ten-year, bumper-to-bumper package. Alas, this does not cover tires. The whole affair, completely with replacement tire scheduling stupidity, has left me feeling sour. This is not how I want to end the year, which admittedly, has been one of both highs and lows. So instead, I’ll draw your attention to something else that happened last week, the release my novelette “The Rule of Three” in the premiere issue of Future SF. Give it a read; I think you’ll like it.

Segueing now into other things I think you’ll like, allow me to introduce you to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Jeremy Finley. Those of you from the greater Nashville area already know Jeremy, as he’s the chief investigative reporter at the NBC affiliate there. His many accomplishments include eighteen Emmys and Edward R. Murrow awards, a national Headliner award, and two IRE awards. In 2016 the Tennessee Associated Press named him journalist of the year. How this man doesn’t have as wikipedia page I’ll never understand.

And now he’s turned his powers to fiction. His debut novel The Darkest Time of Night was released this past June to rave reviews. The sequel, The Dark Above is already schedule for July.

LMS: Welcome, Jeremy. Tell me about your best meal.

JF: I don’t remember what I ate during the best meal I’ve ever had.

To explain, I have to liken meals to books, and writers and chefs may not appreciate the comparison.

We have multiple bookshelves in our house, all stacked mostly with novels that carry significance. A high percentage have already been read once, and I cling to them, pausing occasionally to look at the spine, the font of the title, the color of the jacket. It was only when my family made our latest move did my wife, Rebecca, who has spent eighteen years hauling books from one house to another, gently suggested, perhaps, it was time to thin the herd.

It should have been easy, as I pride myself in not getting attached to physical objects, not houses, not furniture, not cars. The parting from the books, though, was like ripping off a band-aid each time a novel went into the library donation pile.

The Darkest Time of Night

“But you’ve already read them,” my wife mentioned, certainly fighting the urge to smack me on the back of the head with the three volume collection of Michael Crichton’s novels that weighs more than she does.

What I didn’t explain was that I know exactly how I feel about the book, but not much else.

Which is how I feel about meals. Nashville, the city in which we’ve lived in for fifteen years, has become a foodie town, so much that restaurants pop up like musicians on open mic nights trying to score a record deal. Even after we sample them, even if I truly enjoy the food, I don’t remember what I ate. It drives Rebecca nuts, as her brain is wired to remember exact details of most things (translation: she’s much smarter).

“How can you not remember that delicious chicken we ate at the 404 Kitchen?” she’d ask.

I’d probably just stupidly grin, thinking that I definitely recall how you can sit on the front patio of the restaurant and watch the bachelorette parties cruise by on party barges screaming at people on the street. I remember laughing with her, and how the towering office buildings and condos capture the kind of constant breeze reminiscent of downtown New York or Chicago.

Like books, I remember how the restaurants made me feel. I love to eat out, just like I love to read. I do both as often as I can. But it’s the details I’m hazy about. I will talk for hours about my love for certain books, but unless I’ve re-read them several times, the names of characters, major plot twists and developments, are foggy. It honestly bugs me, as I want to be able to rattle off the fine details of the work that a writer has toiled so repeatedly over. Just as I want to remember the spices, the seasonings, the presentation of the meals, a lingering homage to the chef’s work.

The Dark Above

I do wonder if, in these extremely tense and volatile times of ours, that when we have a great experience, and we are so relieved and thrilled to find something that brings us joy that we become so deeply entrenched and we let our minds relax. For that moment, all we know is that what we’re eating or reading is really, really good.

Which is why I don’t recall a single detail about the food during the meal that I believe was the best I ever had.

But I de remember the place, and the cooks, and the people who gathered. How my wife was nine months pregnant with our first daughter, and our doctor didn’t want us to travel to go home to Illinois for Thanksgiving. With no family in town, our friends down the street invited us into their home.

We lived in East Nashville at the time, a neighborhood filled with baristas with curled mustaches in skinny jeans; where people smoke and drink wine by candlelight on their front porches, held aloft by 100 year old Victorian pillars in desperate need of painting.

It’s the kind of urban image completed that the Thanksgiving invitation was from a lesbian couple universally adored on our street. From the moment we entered, there was laughter and booze and the smell of turkey. We sat at their large dining room table, next to our neighbors with their young son who repeatedly rested his head on our shared fence to discuss Star Wars trivia. Our British friends, from a few streets over, regaled us with stories of their favorite horror movies to watch on Christmas.

I do wish I remember the food, but it’s OK that I don’t. I actually don’t need to. I just know that afterwards, I was full, I was content, and I was happy.

Which is exactly how I felt in the completion of certain books, why they remain on my bookshelf, and in dark times of uncertainty, I can walk by them, see their titles, and briefly remember how it feels to be truly nourished.

Thanks, Jeremy. I understand completely, and I’m much the same way. A fine meal, like a fine book, is the very definition of feeling replete for me. But yes, it’s hard, particularly when one’s wife is a chef and friends are all authors.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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.


Eating Authors: N. J. Schrock

No Comments » Written on December 17th, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
N. J. Schrock

Most years at about this time, I’m chomping at the bit for the calendar to finish so I can move on and start all over again. But instead, as the last of my major obligations has just been completed, I’m wishing the remaining days could stretch out further. I long for lazy days punctuated by the occasional nap. Why is it that our perception of time is so relativistic and kooky?

Which is not the best of segues to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, because N. J. Schrock is neither relativistic nor kooky. She was a Ph.D.-carrying chemist with a quarter century experience in the private sector before deciding she wanted more, went back to school and picked up a Master’s in English. The combination shows in her writing, and is on fine display in her debut novel Incense Rising, though, I confess, she had me from the very beginning by naming a scientist Incense Rising.

LMS: Welcome, Nancy. Tell me about your most memorable meal.

NJS: In the late 1980s, I was working as a research chemist on a product development project, and I was invited to go to Italy to meet the customer and witness how a plastic product was manufactured. I met up with two colleagues in technical service, one from the U.S. (Nick, a Midwesterner), and one from Belgium (Paul). In the hotel lobby earlier in the day, Paul proposed that we meet at 9:00 p.m. to go to dinner. Nick was adamant that 9:00 was way too late for dinner, but Paul knew the Italians, and we agreed to a compromise of 8:30. The late hour was only the first of many things about this dinner that made it unique.

The Italian salesman, who I think was named Giorgio, drove us to the venue on winding, narrow roads. I sat in the passenger side back seat and kept expecting the passenger-side mirror to be taken off by the sheer rock walls. The road had no shoulder, and the driver’s speed seemed excessive for the road, but he knew what he was doing. Nick sat in the driver’s side of the back seat and was visibly edgy and probably glad he didn’t have my side. But the proximity of the cliff and the speed that it was passing us was not what made it so memorable. At places along the wall, people had made memorials to dead loved ones. When we pulled off the road into a small parking lot, we had a chance to examine one. Pictures, votive candles, and statues filled a recess in the wall, connecting us with the people who had spent their lives in this place. Their presence was almost palpable.

Incense Rising

Looking around, I wondered where the restaurant was. We were high above the lake. The sun had set, and the lights across the lake reflected in the water, making for a beautiful scene. What I soon learned is that we had to walk to the restaurant, which was down the slope and through a Medieval-looking village. The houses were stone and set into the slope, and people were going about their evening lives. I would like to have seen it in the daylight.

When we arrived at the restaurant, it was a cozy family-run business. I don’t recall what the dishes were, but we had several, brought out in small portions and not in the order that we might typically expect in the U.S. If I recall correctly, the salad might have been last. The weather was perfect, the food and wine were excellent, and the lights on the other side of the lake came across the water and mingled with the congenial company.

After dinner, we toured a Medieval chapel on the property. I was struck by how little the structure of a chapel has changed in hundreds of years. I felt the connections through the years from the chapel, to the village, and to the memorial all the way up the cliff as we climbed back through the dark village at about midnight to the place where the car sat waiting for us and our lives spent in other times and places.

I’ll never forget that meal even though I don’t remember what I ate. Someday I’d like to try to find that restaurant again if it’s still there. Through a quick google search, I did find a website that warned Americans not to try to drive that road. And rightly so, it’s probably a road I’ll never see again because the most memorable meals are not repeatable. They’re caught in a time and place like the memorials in the cliff walls.

Thanks, Nancy. It’s probably a bit morbid or me, but I wonder how many of those roadside shrines were to people who met their end either coming or going to that restaurant.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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.


Eating Authors: Brian Trent

No Comments » Written on December 10th, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
Brian Trent

As the Festival of Lights comes to an end, I’m feeling very blessed. The year is winding down and despite more than a few troublesome bits, I’m still here and the universe still smiles upon me. A recent reminder of that was last week’s return of my tablet which went missing when I passed through TSA on my way home from a conference in Las Vegas a month ago. Perhaps most incredibly, the device still had about ten percent power. There’s an obvious metaphor tying back to Hanukkah, but instead of going down that path let’s get on with this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest.

Every once in a while an author of my acquaintance reaches out to me and says something like “hey, there’s this new writer who’s really awesome and I think you should have them over to your blog and ask them about their most memorable meal.” This doesn’t happen often, but when it does I’m usually so moved by the level of enthusiasm that I’ll check out that new writer and extend an invitation. Which is how Brian Trent, comes to be here.

Brian is a blend of journalist and genre novelist, and his keen interest in science and society pervades his writing in both domains. He appears equally at home in science fiction and fantasy and brings a fresh voice to them. Sampling his work I can see why he was recommended to me and I’m very glad I listened. You should too.

LMS: Welcome, Brian. What stands out in your memory as your best meal?

BT: The best meal I’ve had was in a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Rome. The city–and indeed the country itself–had already been surprising me with its constant generosity and commitment to delivering memorable culinary experiences. That might sound obvious: it’s Italy, right, so of course the food would be great! Yet my dining experiences in the country had included places I wouldn’t have thought to have dining experiences, like a wine shop in Assisi, where the proprietors plied me with remarkable cheeses, delicious pastries, rich olive oil, and local black truffles over crispy bread while I sampled their Chianti. I have yet to be fed at any liquor store in America.

Ten Thousand Thunders

In Rome, I was already on a natural high from seeing the millennia-old ruins. My explorations of the city had been so relentless, in fact, that I had forgotten to eat that day, and was suddenly exhausted, hungry, ravenous. Having freshened up at my hotel and realizing how late the hour was, I sprinted off to see what was available in walking distance of the hotel. There was, alas, little to find. Apparently, my little rented corner of the Eternal City was situated in some Twilight Zone borderland where restaurants were somehow rare.

I did end up discovering a small, unassuming place. Upon entering, the proprietor greeted me, and I quickly exhausted my paltry knowledge of Italian in those opening seconds. Studying the menu, I decided on a seafood appetizer (as in, a single appetizer) and a pasta-with-mushroom main dish. Trying to place my order, however, yielded a great deal of confusion with the waiter. I pointed to the item I wanted. He nodded uncertainly, and left.

When he returned, he was accompanied by a phalanx of other waiters bearing what must have been a decent sample of the existing life in the Atlantic. I blinked, bewildered as the table vanished beneath all the plates. What was going on here? Was I being swindled? Had my wonky knowledge of the local language unintentionally invoked Neptune Himself, resulting in this startling bounty of the sea in gratitude for summoning Him? Before I could protest, the waiters were gone. My stomach, already hijacking my higher functions, demanded I eat what was before me. When in Rome, right?


Any residual protest I may have felt suddenly dissolved as I indulged in one fresh-from-the-sea dish after another. There was shrimp, there were clams, there was fish, there were mussels. I felt like Commander Riker from that Star Trek episode, when he decides to prepare for his Klingon exchange program by sampling the entirety of Klingon gastronomy. The preparation was simple yet masterful, flavorful and pure.

After a time, the proprietor came by to see if I was pleased. I scraped the bottom of my Italian vocabulary to try expressing that yes, I was more than pleased. He asked if I was ready to order my main dish. I explained that I wanted the pasta with mushrooms. Immediately, he shook his head. “No, no, no,” he said, disapprovingly. I stared at him, brandished the menu, and pointed directly to what I wanted. Again, he shook his head, waving his hand as if wiping away my suggestion from the air itself.

“Si,” I insisted, trying to reconcile what was happening. It was like arguing with a pharmacist over medicinal properties, or challenging a wizard over spell components.

“No,” he countered, and pointed out three alternate menu items that apparently would please the cosmos considering what I’d already had as a starter.

Never Grow Old

“Um, okay,” I said at last, selecting the scampi from his approved list. I liked scampi. Why not have it in Rome? After stressing that I only wanted the scampi (and not a cornucopia of every entrée available), I let him scurry off.

Was the meal that arrived actually scampi? The question deserves better than a binary “Yes” or “No” response. The scampi I had at that Italian restaurant was not mere scampi. One bite in, the scintillating flavors spreading like a prismatic supernova across my tongue, I realized that I had apparently never had scampi before. The thing that passed for scampi in American restaurants were anemic shadows on the wall of this ur-and-ultimate scampi. Each bite was a deeper revelation, a repositioning of myself and what I thought I knew. To paraphrase Mouse in The Matrix: “Maybe the machines didn’t know what scampi tasted like…” and here I was, unplugged from the illusion, eating the best meal I’d ever encountered in the real world.

Lesson learned: Don’t argue with Italian kitchen wizards, and be nice to Neptune.

Thanks, Brian. Imagining the shadows of Platonic scampi on the cave wall of Neputune’s bistro now replaces the scene of the Avengers having shawarma in my mind.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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.


Eating Authors: S. L. Saboviec

No Comments » Written on December 3rd, 2018 by
Categories: Plugs
S. L. Saboviec

If it’s December, then it means I’ve survived the stupidity of doing four conventions in the month of November. I’m expecting this to be a quiet month, where my focus will be on finishing a novel, lowering my weight and blood sugar, and exercising regularly. Today is also the first day of Hanukkah, and for those who celebrate, a hearty Chag Urim Sameach to you. Wow, Kislev sure came early this year. I swear, it seems like only yesterday all the stores were playing traditional Cheshvan music.

As a writer, I believe that all quality fiction deals with some aspect of the human story. How we struggle with the tribulations of life, how we celebrate our successes, how we treat one another, how we summon the future. That may not seem like a segue to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, but in point of fact following S. L. Saboviec‘s account of her battle with cancer (stage 4, metastatic breast cancer) has been both moving and inspirational in ways that most fiction can only aspire to.

She’s a year and a month a few days past her diagnosis, marking her as a survivor. She’s been maintaining a blog of her journey (a bit less regularly than she’d like), and I highly recommend it for anyone who is or knows someone who is dealing with similar straits. Here’s a link.

She’s also written three novels about angels and demons. When time and circumstances allow, when she gets to draw on the experiences of the past year, I have no doubt that her fourth book will set the world afire. Until then, here’s her take on her most memorable meal. It’s awesome.

LMS: Welcome, Samantha, what’s your most memorable meal

SLS: Sixteen years ago, when I was but a young, carefree college student, I had dreams of saving the world. My ideas, back then, were a jarring contrast to those I currently hold, and indeed, at the time, I wouldn’t have even recognized thirty-seven-year-old me. Time and life experience has a tendency to change a person, but even I marvel at the jarring contrast between myself now and myself then.

I would describe myself presently as a liberal, feminist, trying-to-be-woke, supporting-marginalized-people, almost-socialist. Then, I was a conservative, small-town-living, born-again Christian, raised to believe the world needed the message I carried in my heart. This impelled me to go on summer mission trips at 18, 19, and 20; this story concerns the mid-summer after my junior year at Iowa State University.

I, along with about one hundred other students and leaders from across the United States, spent a month in southern Africa. We prepared in Maun, Botswana, camped outside a small village called Nxamasere for the bulk of the trip, and finished up with a couple days in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. We built huts, ran a week-long Vacation Bible School for local children, and helped teach locals how to stop the spread of AIDS.

Guarding Angel


Any words I might choose seem overwrought, cliché, or both. It is exactly as you see on TV, only more real, tangible, and beautiful than a picture can convey. Merely seeing the landscape changed me; interacting with the locals sent me on a path toward who I am today.

My most memorable meal happened on the last night we were in Victoria Falls. Our leaders took us to a buffet with a spread of many different kinds of breads, meats, and desserts. I filled my plate with kudu, warthog, and ostrich. My fellow missionaries urged me to try their signature dish: Mopani worm.

I did it. I put the worm in my mouth. I bit into it. It squished apart, and I swallowed it.

I even kept it down.

The meal was a culmination of the whirlwind I’d been through those past few weeks. Yes, people exist who eat insects was a concept that encapsulated my experience. Before then, I knew people like that existed. But I didn’t know know. Eating the worm was as much to solidify the reality in my mind as it was to do something I would not normally do. If I hadn’t eaten it, I was certain, I would regret it for the rest of my life.

But eating a bug wasn’t the most life-changing thing that happened that week. As I sat around the table with the strangers-turned-friends I had made, my thoughts returned to one small occurrence that morphed my entire worldview.

Nxamasere had no electricity. The villagers lived in dung huts and hauled water from one of two wells at opposite ends of their town. My mission group slept in tents about a mile away. One of our projects was to build a latrine for them—with no running water, mind you. Our bathroom was just north of us, a giant sandbox that looked no different from where we pitched our tents.

At night, I sat under the stars and marveled at how brilliant the Milky Way was. Once again, words fail me: we’re all jaded by television and movies, surround sound and IMAX. But something about truly seeing the sky and breathing the African air touched my soul, straightened out my crinkled corners, and gave me new life.

The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé

The children who came to the Vacation Bible School ranged in age from three to eighteen. Their skin was obsidian, their hair cut short. They were curious and shy, most of them both at the same time.

During downtime, our translator would allow questions from them to us. They’d heard stories of the Western world, but they’d never been outside their small villages. Where would they go, and how would they get there? As a village, they owned an old jalopy of a car that they would use for emergencies—I never asked where they got gas nor where the car itself came from.

A little boy about seven years old was bursting to ask a question. The translator, who seemed mostly bored by the entire experience, was half-heartedly translating. The boy was bouncing, his hand in the air, so I pointed at him.

He talked animatedly to the translator, who waved a dismissive hand and gave a curt answer in Setswana.

“Wait,” I said before the translator could move on. “What did he say?”

The boy’s eyes were shining. The translator said, “He wanted to know how many water pumps are in your village.”

“What?” I answered.

The translator had been there to pick us up at the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was a modern, if extremely foreign-seeming, city. He was clearly not impressed with the wide-eyed naivety of the children. He sighed. “He’s very proud because Nxamasere has two water pumps. Most villages only have one.”

My mind stalled, and before I could think of how to explain, the translator had moved on to another child.

Reaping Angel

That was the moment my world opened up.

How do you explain to a proud child that in your house, you had more “water pumps” than all of his surrounding villages combined? One room in our homes has three, including one to flush away waste.

It was such a small and apparently easily-dismissed question. Sixteen years later, I still think of it with wonderment. It isn’t about the technology or the living conditions—it was never about that—it was about how different the world can be. The Batswana I met were happy. They didn’t want to live in the Western world. They didn’t seem to feel that anything was missing in their lives. When I looked at them, I felt something missing. But when they looked at me, I saw curiosity, not longing.

For the first time in my twenty years of life, I realized that the world could never fit my preconceived notions. What I had been taught in subtext was wrong. I didn’t need to go out and force the world to fit into my conservative, small-town-living, born-again Christian beliefs. I didn’t have the word for it at the time, but imperialism irrevocably shattered for me.

The night of the dinner, the culmination of the exotic experiences I was finishing, that memory played over and over with me. It simmered for months. It still simmers.

Such a small, innocent question.

Such world-changing ideas behind it.

Thanks, Samantha. That was some transformational meal. The metaphor that comes to mind is right out of Genesis, only instead of taking a bite out of the apple, you bit into the worm inside that apple.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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.