FOODIE INFLUENCES

I enjoy reading a wide range of books and things.  It could be mysteries, romance, biographies, adventures, thrillers, sci-fi, cozies, cookbooks and even advertisements. I especially enjoy reading stuff that includes tasty descriptions of fantastic meals and desserts—definitely desserts.

Recently, I read a short story about this detective, on the search for a mysterious killer who targeted short, bald men with bad taste in ties.  Throughout chapters 1 and 2, the detective was also seeking the perfect cinnamon pecan roll. By the time I reached chapter 3, his search for this tasty coffee treat far outweighed my search for the killer’s identity.  I had the perfect recipe for cinnamon pecan rolls and didn’t waste any more time reading about it. Within the hour, Hubby and I were inhaling the nutty cinnamon aroma and enjoying a plateful of warm pastry wrapped around buttery brown sugar, cinnamon and roasted pecan bits.

The next book was an entertaining historical thriller set on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf in the 1920s. The main character owned a bar that attracted a number of dubious characters. The main attraction at this bar was a beautiful jazz singer who was also a fabulous cook. Her seafood platters were works of art. Her ginger, garlic seared rockfish was indescribable. The same could be said of her legendary sauteed lemon prawns and the fresh lobster meat tossed in a hot wok, sizzling with sesame oil, ginger and hoisin sauce. The sound of her singing and the aroma of her cooking brought the crowds in—after all, these were customers who appreciated a happy chef and great seafood along with their beer. I can’t remember what the villain was doing, but there were 2 days Hubby and I enjoyed every morsel of our “seafood diet.”

The book after that was a gentle cozy—nothing violent or gory or bloody. It was set in England and was a tale of a misunderstanding between two wealthy families. That was the period when I whipped up teas worthy of serving in a proper English manor: dainty salmon and cucumber sandwiches;  light-as-air scones served with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam; petite cheese and/or baby shrimp quiches; miniature lemon or almond tarts.

Once a month, I would meet with my critique and support group of 3 other writers. Over the years, we each evolved into our own niches—mine usually involved quirky characters and food of some kind. It was my turn to read a bit from one of my on-going stories:

Mina’s thoughts of why Bayley was killed,  flew out the proverbial window, when she smelled peanut butter cookies baking in someone’s kitchen. She had been actively searching for the perfect peanut butter cookie and this smelled like it might be the winner. She could practically taste the peanut butter in a cookie that was crisp on the outside, slightly moist and tender in the inside. It would be a simple, unadorned, pure peanut butter cookie that would not be dressed in chocolate chips, sprinkles, peanuts or anything else. And best of all, the cookie would not be ‘flavored’ with peanut butter but have plenty of that ingredient in the dough. The scent of baking was drifting from the nearby ‘Koffee Kupp’, the perfect place for coffee, cookie and thinking about a killer.

“Well, what do you think?” I asked my group.

“Hope you brought along a supply of those peanut butter cookies ’cause I’ve suddenly developed a real craving for some!” and the others simply nodded in agreement.

Val’s book, set in the Old West, told of the hardships that pioneers went through, traveling to their new homes. Her description of hunting buffalo or deer was very detailed including graphic how-to’s  of skinning the animal and cutting the meat into pieces that could be roasted or stewed. Val’s  diligent research on this didn’t appeal to me as much as the thought of apple pies, baked with cinnamon and brown sugar; hot buttered biscuits served with strawberry jam and warm, crusty bread, eaten with the roasted meat.  I think that was when I made my pot of beef stew, served with hot bread and enjoying a slice of warm apple pie for dessert.

My current book, written by Vivien Chien, is an entertaining mystery involving a smart and sassy heroine, who manages her parents’ Chinese restaurant. I’ve enjoyed reading both her books, “Death by Dumpling” and “Dim Sum of All Fears,” and definitely looking forward to the next Lanna Lee mystery, “Murder Lo Mein.” And of course, I’m ready to tackle my share of shrimp dumplings, pork sui-mei, rice rolls filled with prawns, barbecue duck, stir-fried broccoli with shitake mushrooms, egg custard tarts and so much more. After all , this is the beginning of Chinese New Year and food is always the main event along with family and good friends. I found myself making shrimp dumplings and steamed barbecue pork buns.

I honestly didn’t think that what I read, affected what Hubby and I ate–at least, not until Hubby peered over my shoulder to ask, “What are you reading?”  And then, very casually, “What are they eating?”

 

 

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