Monday, February 4, 2019

Creating Fictional Food

Congratulations to Dianne Casey! You've won the Clicking Our Heels prize of two books by Linda Rodriguez: Every Last Secret and Dark Sister. Please DM your mailing address through the Stiletto Gang Facebook page and we'll send the books to you ASAP!

Judy Penz Sheluk

Let me start by saying I'm a terrible cook. I can make a decent veggie lasagna, and my mac and cheese is better than most, but that's about where my repertoire ends. No one knows this better than my long-suffering husband, Mike (who is, by the way, an excellent cook), but he came into our relationship eyes wide open. The first time he stayed overnight, I asked him what he wanted for breakfast. I expected him to say cereal, or toast and peanut butter, but he asked for scrambled eggs. When he caught me looking in my trusting Betty Crocker cookbook for the recipe—yes I needed a recipe—he could have cut and run. But he stayed, probably thinking my culinary abilities would improve with age.

Fast forward three decades, and I'm now writing murder mysteries. And while I don't write the sort of cozy that includes recipes in the book, food definitely plays a part.

In my latest book, Past & Present, my protagonist, Callie Barnstable makes homemade croutons and a tourtiere (for those of you who don't know what that is, it's a French Canadian meat pie, traditionally served around the Christmas holidays).

Have I ever made croutons? Of course not. There are perfectly good ones available at any grocery story. What about a tourtiere? A pie of any sort? Another no (unless you consider one of those Bisquick Impossible Pies a pie...I've made a few of those with limited success).

Now, you might be thinking, "how can a terrible cook create fictional food, let alone write about it?" Well, the internet helps with the plethora of recipes, but I do have to tweak anything I find to make it my own. And photos...I either have to make it, get a friend to make it (yes, I have resorted to that with Tourtiere -- I don't eat beef or pork), or find a royalty-free photo online (wikipedia commons and morguefile are both good resources). In the end, though, it's mostly about letting my imagination run wild, sort of like creating a fictional town, character or setting. And what can be more fun than that?

Garlic Butter Croutons

PS: you can find my recipes for Easy Peasy Veggie Lasagna, Garlic Butter Croutons, Tourtiere and more on my website's Food & Drink page.

Easy Peasy Veggie Lasagna

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