Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tempting Tasty Tidbits Anyone?

Even though I enjoy watching programs like "Top Chef", I'm not in any way a gourmand. I'm very basic about what I cook and what I eat, and more chocolate is better than less. When in doubt, add bacon. So this week's topic isn't too near and dear to my heart. I honestly don't recall ever being reduced to hunger pangs by a description of any foodstuff in a book.

I remember that the Nero Wolfe detective series featured a lot of fine dining, the allegedly perfect scrambled eggs and a lot of orchids (to admire, not to eat). There was even a Nero Wolfe cookbook issued, I now find out.

I used to really enjoy the Diane Mott Davidson Goldy Schultz mystery series, about a caterer who split her time between the kitchen and crime scenes. No criticism of the series intended - I just drifted away from reading mysteries at some point.

(Interesting that the only books which came immediately to mind as having food are murder mysteries. Hmmm.)

Can I be really candid? If someone includes recipes in their novels, I skip that part. I appreciate their efforts but I'm not going to be making any dishes after I finish the book. I admire people who do, everyone has their own hobbies and fun things, and cooking isn't for me.

I tried to find a passage in one of my own novels where I'd discussed food in more than a sentence or two in passing....this excerpt toward the end of Escape From Zulaire (on sale for $.99!) was about the best I could do. Andi, the heroine is speaking:

“What time is it?”
“Still the middle of the night, I fear. Come, I have some food if you’re hungry.” Rahuna walked over to the couch.
Starved. You must be my guardian angel.” When was the last time I ate? “Any coffee?”
Rahuna tugged her to her feet with elaborate caution while she clutched at her side. Matching his steps to her halting pace, he supported her as she hobbled out of the office. She picked the closest chair at the first table in the restaurant. Like a waiter at a fancy restaurant, Rahuna pulled the seat out for her with a flourish. “There’s coffee. The soldiers said since this was our last stop before the capi­tal, we might as well finish the supply. I saved two cups for you.”
Before she could thank him, Rahuna hurried out, returning with a large tray from which he spread a bountiful meal for her, including an omelet, fruit, breads, preserves as well as the promised coffee.
“Where did all this come from?” she asked around a mouthful of fruit.
“South Amri was abandoned by its owners in a great hurry. The power was still on when we arrived. There’s a big generator out back, behind the buildings. Corporal Rogers wouldn’t let us use many lights when we got here, but we were able to cook. Well, I was able to cook.”
Andi took a bite of the omelet, which was tasty and, although not hot any longer, still warm enough to eat. “Where is everyone?” Taking some of the toast, she made a sandwich with the omelet in the middle and munched happily.
“Lysanda and the boy are asleep in a small, private dining room over there.” Rahuna pointed vaguely to the other side of the restaurant. “She wasn’t comfortable to be left alone in this big, open space. Abukawal is on guard on the roof, watching the off-ramp. The soldiers are outside behind the restaurant, working on the truck and the other vehicle you brought in.”
“It was Gul Tonkiln’s car.” I still can’t believe he might be dead. Assaulted by memories and the pang of sorrow, Andi closed her eyes for a moment. Yet another person who didn’t deserve to die in this insane Clan war.
“Andi?” Rahuna laid his hand over hers. “Come back from wherever your mind is roaming.” He handed her another triangle of toast. “It would seem Lord Tonkiln has lost his firstborn, as well as the others who perished at the summer compound.” Voice low and hushed, he said, “Tonkiln’s paid a high price for refusing to take the early warnings seriously.”
“You don’t think there’s a chance the rebels might be holding Gul for ransom?” Appetite gone, Andi set the toast down, untouched.
Rahuna shook his head, lips pursed, eyebrows drawn together. “This doesn’t seem to be the rebels’ pattern. I fear poor Gul has passed to the next world, murdered no doubt. I continue to give thanks to Sanenre your captain intervened on my behalf, to spare me a similar fate.”
“Mmm, my captain.” Andi felt like purring. “Has Tom said what he’s planning to do now? How do we get to the capital from here?”
Picking up a ripe fruit and contemplating its bruised skin, Rahuna shook his head. “Not to me. He and his men have been modifying the two vehicles. The captain wouldn’t even take time to eat, nor let the sergeant have a break. I brought them food out back, in the garage. The men gulped bites here and there as they worked. So, I believe we’re going to take the vehicles.” Rahuna bit into the fruit and munched on it, giving a small sigh. “The comlink here at the station was inoperable, by the way. A severe disappointment to the captain. Rogers said several vital parts were missing.”
“Tom hoped to call for an air evac.” Andi sipped her coffee then devoured the last two bites of her omelet, which now tasted like cardboard. 

The story:
Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.
Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.
That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, 

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

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