In RETURN OF THE FAE, Book 2 of The Council series, Parris and Ty take off on a road trip to Cincinnati, Ohio to the stay at The Riverglen, the only magical specialty hotel in the downtown area. Even though the hotel is warded against a guest using their magic to keep warring factions from using the facility as a hot zone, the staff members are skilled in the hospitality craft. Including those in charge of preparing the food guests ordered from the room service menu.
Parris brought road food along on the trip, munching on peanuts and Skittles during the drive up from St. Louis, but Ty disappeared before they could order real food. So she went crazy with the appetizers list for lunch and ordered one of each, hoping he arrived before the food either cooled or she ate her way through the trays of yummy-ness. The chicken fingers were to die for, but Parris loved the onion rings, their crispy outside reminding her of food from the best drive-in back home, The Hungry Onion.
Later, the couple ordered dinner and Parris had one of my favorite entrées of all time. Shrimp and grits.
With my recipe, I add crumbled spicy sausage, onions, and a touch of garlic to the mix before adding in a cup or so of whatever wine is open in the fridge. Then I let the shrimp steam on top while the grits are cooking. I just use the recipe on the box to cook my grits, with maybe just a tad more salt. Then as they’re finishing, I add a cup of various types of shredded cheese and a quarter cup of sour cream mixing until smooth.
Line a deep soup bowl with the grit mixture, then ladle the shrimp and sausage mixture into the middle with a lot of the pan drippings.
I’m sure the version the hotel gave Parris was just as yummy. And as fattening. Of course, as a witch in training, the one thing she’s realized is she never-ever has to worry about calories again. Now that’s one magic trick I’d love to learn.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lynn!USA Today and New York Times best-selling author Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.
You can find Lynn here:
Return of the Fae – Book 2 of The Council series
A witch in training, a hunter on the prowl, and a world in jeopardy. Learning the rules of being a witch takes years, but Parris McCall needs to master them in only weeks. Ty Wallace is going mad with his desire for Parris, but she’s a distraction in his quest to find Coven X before they take The Council and everyone he knows down. The couple searches for Ty’s missing mentor. Their only clue comes from a banished witch. Upon returning, a new life hangs in the balance.
When Bree Sunderland went with her scientist father to Ireland, she thought it would be a vacation to study bog bodies. She never expected to fall in love with a mysterious young Irishman and certainly not to become the kind of monster her father said only existed in nightmares. Everything changes when Dr. Sunderland discoers that lycanthropy is not a superatural curse but rather a gentic mutation. When they return home, Bree's dad contiues his research, but the military wants to turn that resarch into a bio weapons program and rogues soldiers want to steal the research to turn themselves into unstoppable killing machines.
It should be a bright spot when Bree's boyfriend Liam surprises her with a visit to the United States, but there are darker surprises in store for both of them. As evil forces hunt those she loves, Bree must become an even more dangerous hunter to save them all.
While food doesn't play a huge role in my novel (I try to avoid scenes that involve food unless a key story element is revealed in that scene), there are several scenes in PREDATOR where food sneaks in just to help engage the senses: a smell of something sweet—caramel or maybe vanilla, cinnamon and chocolate ixed with the thick aroma of coffee.
The one truly significiant use of food involves Bree's visit to Liam's house before she flees Ireland with her dad to return home to the safety of the United States. Liam's mom offers Bree cold minerals and crumble (or biscuits, if Bree would prefer). She goes for the crumble, and Liam tells him mom to give Bree blueberry because it is Bree's favorite. This scene provides an opportunity for Bree to truly realize just how much she's lost in life, as well as gain information from Liam and his mom about the Benandati, a race of werewolves who fought against evil. If I tell you any more about the Benandati it will give away too much of the plot, so I have to back off there, sorry!
Perhaps most telling of all is that food only appears early on in the novel. As tension and suspense and action increase, food is the last thing on anyone's mind...
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Janice!
You can find Janice here:
When eight year-old Storee Wryter wants to convince her parents that it’s a good idea to adopt a puppy she has her work cut out for her. She already has an opinionated cat named Critique and a full schedule of after schools activities. Will she have time to properly care for a boisterous puppy?
To complicate matters, Storee’s friend and neighbor Kyria who brought the puppy over, not only wants Storee to adopt the puppy, but asks they train her as a therapy dog as well.
Uh-oh added work and added expense. The Wryter family needs to know a lot more about what they could be getting into before making a decision. So, they invite Kyria’s father over for a meeting.
Like many meeting involving family decisions this one take place around the kitchen table. Understandably, Storee is nervous and her parents are skeptical when Mr. Henry arrives. He hopes to convince the family that taking on a new pet and one with a job at that, can be done without too much disruption.
Mrs. Wryter wants her guest to feel welcome without conveying too much weight to the visit. A bowl of chips and some coffee do the trick. It’s the type of finger food one offers a neighbor who happens to drop by. It’s easy to prepare, easy to eat, and easy to scoop away to signal the end of a visit.
Once the decision is made and Storee begins to train Addie, she uses puppy snacks to show approval when a lesson goes well. Dogs and people understand that treats are a sign everyone is happy and when Critique watches and begins to follow commands too the pets begin to bond in unexpected ways.
In the end, when Addie is trained and Storee takes her into a school for the first time to work with children having trouble learning to read, Storee and her family celebrate what Addie has learned and how well Storee has met her new responsibilities. When Kyria drops by she is invited to stay and enjoy a piece of warm apple pie and a merging of family and friends dedicated to helping others.
In this simple story for young readers the food could seem like a very minor element. But, it turns out to be just as important in creating bonds within this family as it does in ours.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Bobbi!
You can find Bobbi here:
When you are raised in an America Italian Family home life is full of traditions. Two of the most traditions are family gatherings and food. Trust me, I was raised in one. Seems life was centered around food and family. And maybe more food. Christina Ciccone, the main character grew up on her mama’s spaghetti and meatballs. She loved Sunday dinners which consisted of spaghetti, hot garlic bread and salad.And of course there was always Neapolitan Ice Cream for dessert.
I mention Pizzelle cookies in the story. These fancy waffle cookies were served up for Christina’s elegant high school graduation party. Her mother and her Aunt Linda made them in the waffle iron the morning of the party. These are her favorite cookie.
Helen Ciccone, Christina’s mother learned the craft of making great spaghetti sauce from her mother. It was a recipe in the family for generations. The secret was to put pork into the sauce for great flavor and add a little bit of sugar to sweeten the sauce and take out some of the sour taste from the tomatoes.
Now, Darien Russo, the young man obsessed with Christina is hooked on fast food. When you are a paramedic and on the run all the time it’s just about the only option. His favorite fast food is a footlong Subway turkey sandwich and chips. He once ate four bags of chips while sitting outside of Christina’s house hoping he’d see her.
Jade, Christina’s BFF loves to come over at night and hang out with Christina in her room searching for paranormal topics on the internet. She loves to munch on Caramel Corn while chatting.
Mysterious Mrs Silva, retired school teacher and chaperone on the trip to Rome with Christina’s history club is a very refined lady. She loves her Chardonnay with a fresh Caesar salad. She’s been known to throw a hissy fit it lettuce is wilted.
Mr Frescelli, Christina’s history teacher and bachelor is not much of a cook. His evening meal consists mainly of a frozen dinner and a beer. One of his favorites is the Hungry Man Meatloaf Platter. He watches the History Channel while trying to grade papers.
For the Vestal Virgins, their specialty is making the famous ‘mola salsa’ cakes. These were a special wafer like cakes made of pelt flour,water and salt, then burnt in the turibulum which was a type of incense burner. The cakes were brought to special events and crumbled up and sprinkled over areas as offerings for the gods.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lorraine.
You can find Lorraine here:
When I agreed to write a post for But What Are They EatingI must admit I was a tad overwhelmed. I am working on three different series simultaneously, and all three could easily have a post. So, how did I make my final decision? Well, there wasn’t any deep, thought-provoking way I went about it. To be honest, I did eeny-meeny-miney-mo.
*hangs my head in shame*
I suppose I really shouldn’t. I mean, we all have those moments, right ...... right?
Regardless of how I made my decision, I chose my short story Redemption from the series The Legacy of Ilvania. Because it’s a short story, I didn’t delve into what the main character Jae is eating. Nevertheless, what he eats, more specifically what he doesn’t eat, plays a crucial role in his life and greatly influenced what he is today.
At the age of sixteen, Jae’s parents sold him to the Mé’Draak.
A fighting force able to wield powerful magic, the Mé’Draak are Ilvania’s most revered defenders. Having a son chosen to join their forces is considered a high honor. But in the College where the recruits are trained, it quickly becomes apparent that the Mé’Draak are nothing to be commended. For the young boys aren’t students. They’re slaves.
Put in tiny, cramped cells and given thin rags to wear, they spend their days huddled against the damp stone walls, dreading the moment a key turns in the lock and they are taken to their session. Unlike a normal school, the boys don’t learn to call upon their magic through instruction. They learn through pain.
Twice daily, each student is taken to their session. Their trainer attacks them with lightning, the most common spell of the Mé’Draak. The boys quickly learn to raise their magical shields in defense, or they die. For those who survive the first onslaught, the attacks increase in strength until the pupil falls unconscious from the strain or they are driven to the point where anger and resentment take control. Defending is no longer an option. They turn their energy around and attack. They’re broken. They’re a Mé’Draak.
So far, I haven’t talked at all about food, but you can probably imagine what I’m about to say isn’t going to be pleasant. As I mentioned earlier, the food given to the boys at the College plays an integral role in their Breaking. In order for the method of training to work, they need to be completely demoralized. They aren’t given any kindness or compassion. They aren’t given time to socialize. But above all, they aren’t given food.
Jae grew up on a farm. He was used to hearty, simple cooking. But he was also one of eleven children and a poor family. Meals need to consist of a few cheap ingredients and feed a lot of mouths. Soups and stews were what his mother cooked most often. Potatoes, squash, and root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips transformed into hearty stews that somehow always managed to taste different. Sliced cabbage, potatoes, and carrots made a light soup which was one of Jae’s favorites. Squash pies were his favorite food in the fall, and for the hotter summer months, he enjoyed lightly fried squash and zucchini tossed with rice. Once a month, Jae’s father would trade some vegetables grown on the farm for meat from the local butcher. Jae looked forward to that time of the month with baited breath.
Jae was never hungry, but he also never truly knew what it was like to be full. Nevertheless, when he arrived at the College, he quickly learned what it was like to starve.
The Master doesn’t want the boys to be healthy. He doesn’t want them to be strong. The quicker they become weak, both mentally and physically, the quicker they will be Broken. He wants them to have no willpower left to resist.
Part of how that’s achieved is by feeing the boys next to nothing. Jae thought he was hallucinating when he was served his first meal—if you could call it that. A tiny wooden tray smaller than an average plate was plopped in front of him. On it was a half a slide of bread and a small cup of light yellow broth. No vegetables. No rice. No meat. Broth.
Jae devoured the food in seconds and spend the rest of the day reassuring himself the next meals of the day would be more substantial. To his dismay, he received only one more meal that day. And it was exactly the same.
Still, the Master realized there needed to be some concession on his part, otherwise the boys would die of starvation before he’d even have a chance to break them. Once a week, he let the boys receive three meals. The first two were the same as every other day; bread and broth. The third consisted of a slice of roasted meat, boiled potatoes, and a roll.
When Jae arrived at the College, he was fit and muscular. Five months after eating the Master’s prescribed diet, he was emaciated beyond recognition. If not for that one special meal a week, he would have forgotten the taste of food.
Food is an essential part of our lives. Many of us take it for granted and fail to recognize how much we depend on it mentally and physically. Redemption reminds us how easily that can change. How easily something affects us when it’s wrenched away. Does Jae learn how to survive the torture of the Mé’Draak? Can he continue to hold on to who he is before it’s too late?
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Andi!
You can find Andi here:
My protagonist, Dr Eva Ross has had a scare; her husband has finally revealed himself to be a man of highly questionable moral judgement.
Checking in at a hotel, she gets directed to Moynagh’s, a bar on Exchange Street in Worcester, Massachusetts. The barman indicated several taps. “Ales, from the motherland. Guinness, if that’s your thing. Several Irish whiskies. Most of this lot only drink Jameson’s. Not a lot of calls for anything else in this place. The only new drink we have introduced in the last ten years is the ‘Passion Plunge’”.
Eva could not help the grin that spread across her face at hearing the name. “Sounds perfect. What’s in it?”
“Sour mix, orange juice, ice, dash of soda and of course a double shot of Irish whiskey. I made it in honour of the charity event we always send a team to.”
Several elements here are important to me. First off, I love real places, and Moynagh’s is such. Second, I love a good cocktail, and so I had fun creating this. Third, Eva has just experienced emotions that are going to severely deplete any chance of passion, and is laughing at the irony. Lastly, I love to learn things. Did you know ‘whisky’ is from Scotland and ‘whiskey’ is from Ireland?
Food (or drink) for thought…
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Matt!
Matthew W. Harrill lives in the idyllic South-West of England, nestled snugly
in a village in the foothills of the Cotswolds. Born in 1976, he attended school in Bristol
and received a degree in Geology from Southampton University. By day he plies
his trade implementing shareplans for Xerox. By night he spends his time with his wife
and four children.
You can find Matt here:
Kingfish in coconut cream, pigeon in pineapple, stewed plums. The delicacies that populate the picnics and pantries of Oh are as sweet and spicy as the island itself. Just ask Trevor Rouge, proprietor of Trevor’s Bakery, whose cold drinks and warm buns loosen the locals’ lips; or Captain Dagmore Bowles, who plies his one true love with cool cabbage salad to win her heart. Talk to the anonymous man (if you can find him) who placed an ad in the island paper for a girl with cooking skills worthy of marriage. All of them will tell you that guava tarts and macaroni pie wield the same kind of magic as Oh’s gossipy winds and fool-making moon.
In Away with the Fishes, the second— but standalone —installment in my Island of Oh series, it’s precisely the preoccupation with fish and fowl that drive the drama. Rena Baker, known for the culinary attentions that she lavishes on Madison Fuller, her boyfriend, goes missing. All the signs (when bent and twisted) seem to suggest that Madison has done her in. How else to explain the classified ad for a bride who can bake? Surely Madison seeks Rena’s replacement, and the Island Police are swift to deliver him his just desserts.
Then again, mightn’t Madison be telling the truth when he says he knows nothing of Rena’s whereabouts or of the ad? Mightn’t the ad, instead, be designed to ensnare Madison’s own sister, May Fuller, whose fish chowder and Christmas cakes are reputed island-wide?
Questions like these are just the sort of salt and pepper that add flavor to the workaday world of Customs & Excise Officer Raoul Orlean, who has yet to find an island riddle he can resist unraveling (though resolving them is sometimes a different matter). Raoul has no need for bakers’ buns or classified ads; his wife Ms. Lila’s fare is fine indeed. But mysteries, he cannot stomach. Lucky for him, thismystery doesn’t want for clues, and the clues want Raoul to investigate one cook to find another: old Mrs. Jaymes, cook and housekeeper to the long-dead Dagmore Bowles, might just hold the key to the Rena riddle. Now normally Raoul wouldn’t battle wits with a ghost, which is what old Captain Dagmore must by now be, but in the interest of island justice—and his own plain-as-noses-on-faces philosophical school—Raoul eats up the Captain’s tale. Exactly what answers lie therein, Raoul will have to sniff out. And with a pinch of island luck, he might just do so before poor Madison’s goose is cooked.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Stephanie!
You can find Stephanie here:
The year is 1577. Our unlikely hero, Peregrine James, is a young cook sentenced to a lashing for the crime of being an unwelcome suitor to his master's daughter. Despite the stripes on his back, however, Perry convinces the charismatic sea captain, Francis Drake, to accept him among his crew. Soon he is aboard the Pelican
, the flagship of a fleet of five small vessels ostensibly bound on a trading voyage to Alexandria—although everyone is sure their real destination lies elsewhere, wherever there were Spanish or Portuguese ships to rob.
As the assistant cook, Perry is the “least boy” aboard the Pelican
. Unfortunately, he is disliked by his immediate superior, Lancelot Garget, who assigns him every menial duty—scrubbing pots, “shifting” salted meat, plucking chickens, fetching ingredients from the orlop, mucking out the livestock pens—and much chopping and dicing and scraping. There are sixty-seven boys, sailors, men, and gentlemen sailing with the Pelican
, and each is entitled to a full pound of beef, pork, or mutton per day, with cod or ling served on Fridays, not to mention equal portions of vegetables and biscuit. The work is never ending.
This is the natural of things in any kitchen or galley, of course, and Perry never thinks of complaining. What irks him, however, is that Garget “cannot abide foreign flavors, particularly the stink of garlic” and insists on food plainly cooked in the style “my mother taught me, God rest the good woman.” Growing ever more tired of Garget's signature dish, boiled beef and onions, Perry is overjoyed when he is transferred temporarily to the Benedict
, the smallest ship of the fleet. Finally he has a galley of his own and may cook as he likes. His welcome, however, is not warm …
Benedict was commanded by Tom Moone. He was a hulking giant several inches past six feet in height, with placid brown eyes and a stillness of expression that encouraged you to believe him to be slow-witted although I knew him to be a professional killer of high intelligence.
“Where is Garget?” he asked Bartelmyeus Gotsalk.
“Drake would not part with the man.”
“No surprise there. Lancelot is too fine a cook to surrender.”
“Drake swore the lad here would do as well. Let us take heart, captain, at least he is not Artyur.”
“Truer words were never spoken. I have been experiencing curious intestinal twinges since breakfast and I am not looking forward to supper. Artyur! Artyur! Where the devil are you?”
“This is Peregrine James, who is to be your superior until Hogges is back on his feet.”
“Let him return to the Pelican,
kapitein. I need no assistance.”
“You have it wrong, Artyur—you are to assist Mr. James, do you understand me?”
Artyur was a Hollander of about my own age. His head was almost perfectly round and he cut his hair in a line above the ears and shaved his cheeks and neck clean, a style that emphasized the globular nature of his cranium. Artyur’s features were in constant motion and he could not keep his hands still and he was always worrying the joints of his fingers.
kapitein,” he muttered sadly, “I understand all too well,
ja. You did not appreciate the morning porridge.”
“Pepper does not marry easily with oatmeal.”
“And what of the
“In the future remember that the flavor of sugar should overpower that of salt in sweet pastry. Now no more argument, Artyur. Provide Mr. James all courtesy.”
My first challenge, I realized, would be to find Artyur harmless work since he was sure to do me injury through incompetence, if not through malice. It was plain that he resented my presence aboard the
Benedict and coveted my station.
“Be so kind as to peel twenty onions,” I told him, “followed by an equal number of carrots. Wash a couple bunches of celery. Cut each vegetable into pieces the size of your knuckle.”
Ja ja. Which knuckle? The first one or the second?”
“The knuckle does not matter. The point is for the pieces to be uniform, so that they cook evenly.”
Going below, I found a haunch of beef that had been rinsed of salt and was ready for cooking. I butchered it into square chunks and began browning the meat in bacon grease as my mother had taught me, guiding my hand with her own as we turned the sizzling cubes with a wood spoon, murmuring, “
Mira, mi hijo. Pay attention so that all sides receive equal color.
Es muy importante.” Without Garget breathing over my shoulder, I was also able to skim off the impurities that would impart a bitter aftertaste if allowed to remain in the liquid. Frying together some butter and flour until golden, I employed this mixture to thicken the broth instead of using a paste of water and flour, which was quicker but brought nothing to a dish except a raw taste and a muddy color.
“I am done,
ja,” stated Artyur, giving the last carrot a couple chops before sweeping it from the cutting board into a bucket with the edge of his knife. “What now?”
“Fetch eggs, sugar, milk, raisins, and stale bread. A cup of sack, too. We will have pudding for dessert.”
When Artyur left to get the required items, I carried the bucket of vegetables to the iron pot in which the stew was simmering. Some premonition, however, prevented me from tossing in the contents all at once and instead I added the ingredients handful by handful.
This allowed me to intercept the dead rat hidden among the carrots, onions, and celery before it fell into the stew.
Artyur’s strategy was obvious. He planned to publicly discredit me before Tom Moone and the rest of the men.
More saddened than dismayed by this evidence of perfidy, I tossed the rodent overboard without advertising that I had discovered it. I figured my silence would lead Artyur to suppose his intrigue remained undetected, and it did. He shot me a couple sideways glances and then began whistling happily while stirring the pot, no doubt anticipating my upcoming humiliation and his consequent elevation to my position once I was disgraced. I did not doubt he was composing a rousing speech to recite when the rat was sighted in the stew.
“How is the flavor?” I asked as I finished kneading the old bread with the sugar, eggs, and milk and began to press the dough into a greased tin. “Is more pepper necessary?”
Nee, nee,” Artyur answered. “I believe there is ample.”
“Taste it to be sure.”
“I have done so, ja. All is good.”
“Lift your spoon, Artyur.”
“Lift your spoon from the stew, place it to your lips, and tell me whether additional seasoning would be appropriate.”
Artyur regarded the spoon as if he had never encountered such a utensil before and had no inkling why the thing was in his hand. Finally he brought it to his mouth, hesitated briefly, and flicked out the tip of his tongue. “Very good,” he said, obviously relieved that his unwelcome addition to the recipe had not soured the dish. “Excellent. Now, Artyur, please take a generous helping, chew it thoroughly, and inform me if the meat is tender.”
Thanks for stopping by to share you food for thought, David!
You can find David here:
Maggie Vaults Over the Moon retells the story of Maggie Steele, a gritty farm girl from tiny Grain Valley, Kansas, who pours her broken heart into the daring and dangerous sport of pole-vaulting. Kirkus Reviews says the novel “…exudes sweetness; in some ways, it feels as if it takes place in another era, as it lacks the dark edge seen in other popular YA stories…”
A morsel of this story’s other-era sweetness can be tasted in a nostalgic food scene in which the stressed and grieving Steele family takes a break from a long day’s harvesting to savor a fresh, home-cooked dinner – transported from the farmhouse kitchen to a half-cut Kansas wheat field.
I chomped the buttery corn and chewed the fried chicken clean off the bone, wiping my hands on my napkin. Looking out from where we sat, I could see about a third of the wheat field had been cut.
“We still have a lot of work to do before dark, but we’ve made a good start of it,” Dad said.
Mom and Grandma took our empty plates and put the leftovers back in the basket. There was easily enough food left over for a hungry teenager, but if anybody else was thinking about Alex, they didn’t say so.
Even as full as I was, I still felt empty. But I kept the feeling to myself.
Now just before that scene, heroine Maggie Steele, for the very first time in her life, drove a fully-loaded grain truck from the wheat field to the Grain Valley Elevator, eight miles distant on the county blacktop. Driving the huge truck was a chore that her older brother, Alex, had always done, but that was before Alex and his friend Caleb had both been killed in a car crash one month before.
On the way to town, Maggie made a driving mistake and barely managed to keep the fully-loaded truck from overturning on the highway. She arrives at the elevator shaken and frightened about taking her brother’s place on the family farm, but sits down to dinner with family members who seem to believe that if they don’t acknowledge who’s missing, everything looks, tastes, and smells as if all is okay. Maggie indulges her sense but isn’t fooled. After what she experienced on the highway, she knows everything has changed. And even a heaping plateful cannot fill the empty space she feels inside.
My years spent as a newspaper reporter in Kansas wheat country provided most of the scenes in the story. And while I'd heard-tell about harvest field dinners like this, I'd never seen one. Today, even the smallest towns have a place where Maggie could pick up some hamburgers and fries on the way back to the field, and so they do. Womenfolk like Grandma who felt compelled to fix such big dinners are mostly gone. Moms like Maggie's now work in town or drive the big grain trucks themselves.
I heard from an older reader who especially liked this scene because he'd experienced field dinners just like these, with clean linen napkins, cold metal tumblers and everything. He said Maggie touched him so deeply that he cried when he finished reading it, because he didn’t want the story to end.
As for me, I felt like I needed to write this scene into the story because I wanted an eating event that went beyond the kitchen table and took on the feel of a mythic meal. I wanted you to taste the goodness, and believe that there really is a place called Grain Valley, Kansas, with a golden wheat field like this one – where your Grandma still fusses and fills your plate with fried chicken, potatoes and gravy, and Oh! fresh-baked bread, buttered with love. Where you, too, can taste the sweetness again.
Thanks for sharing your food for thought, Grant!
Former Miami Herald Sportswriter Grant Overstake is a lifelong participant in the sport of track and field who competed in the decathlon for the University of Kansas Jayhawks. A multiple award winner for excellence in journalism, Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is the author’s premiere work of sports fiction, and is now available in paperback and e-book at Amazon.com.
Would you eat a Half Creature?
Guest post by Katherine Roberts
If you’re not a strict vegetarian, then you’re probably fine with eating animal flesh and maybe a bit of fish. But how far would you take that? Would you eat a horse? Would you eat your dog? Would you eat a mermaid?
Although I’m not vegetarian myself, I think I would find that last one difficult (I’d find the other two difficult, too – though if I were starving and someone served up the meat in a shrink-wrapped package, maybe I could do it!) On the other hand, mermaids don’t exist so that’s okay.
But I write fantasy! And one of the tricks of writing a realistic imaginary world is to ask this kind of question. So let’s suppose for a moment that mermaids do exist…
In my Echorium trilogy, you’ll meet several types of half creature: merlee (half fish, half human – our mermaids and also mermen), centaurs (half pony, half human),
quetzal (half bird, half human) and naga (half water snake, half human). Most people respect the Half Creature Treaty that forbids exploitation of half creatures. But at the start of the first book Song Quest, unscrupulous hunters are netting the merlee for their eggs and gutting the females to extract this delicacy before casting their bodies back into the sea. Think caviar, mermaid-style.
My imaginary world is policed by human Singers, who live in the Echorium (a bluestone castle on the Isle of Echoes) and use Songs of Power in the place of weapons. Alerted by the merlee’s cries for help, they set out to investigate taking with them two young novices – Rialle, who can communicate with half creatures, and Kherron who cannot. They follow the hunters’ trail high into the mountains of the Karch, where they discover the small green merlee eggs are destined for the young Karchlord Javelly, who is chronically sick… the eggs are supposed to cure him. In the Karch, the Singers discover another violation of the Treaty – quetzal are being kept in cages, waiting to be plucked and boiled for the lord’s table. This looks like a direct violation of the Treaty by the people of the Karch. But things are not quite as they seem. When Lord Javelly’s priests are discovered injecting the merlee eggs before delivering them to their young lord, the Singers must use their Songs of Power not only to protect the half creatures but also to save the life of the young Karchlord.
The half creatures in my Echorium books are based on creatures from our own myths. I gave them limited intelligence along with their animal instincts, and was fascinated by the question of whether they should be treated as low-intelligence humans or highly-intelligent animals. If human, then obviously eating them would be considered cannibalism and wrong. If animal, then maybe it’s more acceptable… provided you’re not vegetarian, of course! The equivalent squirm-factor in our world might be eating a chimpanzee (that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when our hero and heroine are served with a dessert of frozen monkey brains inside the original monkey heads has always freaked me out!)
In the end, I decided the half creatures in my fantasy world should be protected species and are not to be eaten under any circumstance. Do you agree?
The Echorium trilogy was first published by Chicken House/Scholastic. The first title Song Quest won the Branford Boase Award for best debut novel for young readers in 2000, and all three books are now re-available:
Song Quest - paperback (Catnip Publishing, UK), ebook coming soon.
Crystal Mask - Kindle ebook (special offer this weekend 99c / 99p)
Dark Quetzal - Kindle ebook (special offer this weekend 99c / 99p)
Katherine Roberts writes fantasy and legend for young readers. Her latest series is the Pendragon Legacy about King Arthur’s daughter (which also contains a mermaid, although they don’t eat her!)
Meet Katherine here:
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Katherine!
When I turned fifteen and started reading adult chapter books (Oh no, there is no way I’m telling you the year to show my age LOL), I always found myself asking the same question:
When do these characters eat, sleep, use the restroom, etc.?
There always seemed to be unanswered questions left by authors, those little things that we all do, but that rarely get mentioned in books. It’s not that I want the author to go on and on about a character’s eating or bathroom habits, but some small mention would suffice.
So when I first contacted Shelley Workinger about a possible blog post, and she told me what her blog was all about, I thought it was a great idea. She was really on to something when she mentioned to me that a fictional character’s diet can really tell the reader something about that character. Some readers want to know these minor details.
My debut novel, DEAD MAN’S HAND, is an International bestselling crime-thriller that was released in October 2012. The novel takes readers inside the head of Calvin Watters, a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector, who was once an NFL rising-star prospect, now a fugitive on the run.
But for this post, I wanted to write about the new novel I’m currently working on, specifically the main character, detective Charlene Taylor.
To put it lightly, Charlene Taylor is a self-hating, alcoholic, one-night standing, tough but broken individual who never knew her father. She was the “boy” her father never had, and has decided to follow in his footsteps as a member of the LAPD.
So in order to demonstrate the kind of character Charlene is, I needed to really sell it with her diet and eating habits.
Charlene is an “eat-on-the-run” kind of gal. Grab a muffin or fruit on her way out the door. Living a fast-paced, almost carefree single lifestyle, she has take-out restaurants on her speed dial, and the local neighborhood sushi bar is familiar with her frequent post-sex phone calls for delivery. I felt that having a sushi restaurant on speed dial, where they are used to her “dinner for 1” orders, shows Charlene’s age (I think of sushi as a more youthful meal), health concerns (obviously sushi is a very healthy food), and her loneliness (ordering always for one and having it on her speed dial).
To me, this was the ultimate form of using food and diet to show who a character really is and allow a reader to make his/her own judgements and conclusions.
Food/diet is a very important tool that can be used by authors to “show” instead “tell” readers about a certain character and his/her traits.
My newest novel is still in the editing stages, but it has been a fun project.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Luke!
Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, three daughters and pug.
He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).
Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.
Catch up with Luke at these sites:
Back cover text for DEAD MAN'S HAND
What happens when the deck is stacked against you…
From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.
…and the cards don't fall your way?
When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.
What if you're dealt a Dead Man's Hand?
Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.
"You may want to give it the whole night, just to see how it turns out."
—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lincoln Letter
"Dead Man's Hand is a pleasure, a debut novel that doesn't read like one,
but still presents original characters and a fresh new voice."
—Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Flower
"Part police procedural, part crime fiction, Dead Man's Hand is a fast, gritty ride."
—Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Hush
One of the readers of my novels pointed out jokingly that my characters love food and wine and drink copious amounts of coffee. She is right! I enjoy reading food descriptions in novels and many of my characters like to eat and drink.
Food, the preparation and enjoyment of it, can be a powerful device in a novel. Eating is a very sensual thing and in our writing, we try to convey sensual experiences with words. We want our readers to be involved with the story and one way to do this is to let them perceive the world through the senses of the characters. Let them smell, hear, see, and taste. It brings the story to life and makes for much more interesting reading.
In addition, the way we eat, what we eat, like any other activity, can say something about the rest of our lives and hence, in a novel, about the lives of the characters we create. Here are a few examples of my novels where food plays a role in the Family Portrait trilogy.
The first book, An Uncommon Family, starts with six-year old Karla, eating an ice cream cone:
Karla licked the crispy cone, trying to catch the sliding droplets before they hit the ground. The raspberry ice cream was a dark purple, her favorite color. … She turned around and peered through the window of the art shop, where her aunt was picking up two framed pictures. When she looked back at the sidewalk, her breath caught.
“Mama?” she whispered.
She saw the woman only from behind, but the bounce in her step, the long, reddish-blond hair flowing down her back, swaying left and right, the tall, slender figure—it must be her mother. She tossed the rest of the ice cream into the trashcan, got up, and ran after the woman.
The above “ice cream scene” encompasses one of the books main themes: Karla’s longing for her mother. When a young girl tosses her favorite ice cream cone into the trash to run after someone, that someone must be critical to her life. The child’s action startles us and we are eager to know what happens. Seeing a woman who reminds her of her mother turns the peaceful enjoyment of her sweet into a heartbreaking chase after a phantom. As we find out a little later, Karla’s mother is in fact dead and the child hasn’t been able to fully accept her loss yet.
Later in the book, Karla tells her painting teacher and mentor, Jonas, about a dream that scared her and made her sad. Jonas knows just the thing that would bring some relief to Karla: comfort food or drink—a cup of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream—which he lovingly prepares.
Jonas poured the milk into the mugs, shook the bottle of whipped cream, and squeezed a dollop out of it. “Try it.” He handed a mug to Karla.
Karla took a sip and licked some of the whipped cream off the top. “Good,” she said.
They sat on the couch in the living room, sipping hot chocolate. Karla put her mug down on the table and walked over to the wall to look at a photo of Eva. She stood in front of the picture, seemingly absorbed, then turned around. “She’s very pretty.”
Jonas nodded. “Yes, she was beautiful.”
Karla came back to the sofa and picked up her mug again. After she took another sip, she gazed at Jonas with her large dark eyes. “Do you dream about her sometimes?”
“Yes, quite often.”
The scene shows us something about Jonas’s kindness and love of his student, and it introduces us to his own heartbreak.
Other food scenes in the book provide information about the environment and the seasons in Switzerland. The scent of roasted chestnuts in the old town of Zurich, a restaurant that serves fondue in winter, or, in summer, the refreshing taste of ice-cold gazosaor lemonade.
In the second book, Love of a Stonemason, Karla invites Andreas, her new boyfriend, a stonemason and sculptor, for dinner. It is raining and Andreas builds a fire in the fireplace. The scent of burning wood and the smell of cooking mingle, creating a sensuous atmosphere which leads to their first lovemaking. In the morning, they wake up hungry and Karla prepares a rich breakfast of eggs, bacon, bread, butter, and jam.
Andreas scraped up the leftover egg with a piece of bread and licked his fingers. “This is excellent, by the way.” He pointed at his plate. “I could get used to this.”
“I’m glad you like it.” Karla was amused by his appetite.
Here we get a glimpse of Andreas’ character. He is a sensuous man, somewhat unpolished but compassionate. He enjoys food and Karla, who is a talented painter and an excellent cook, knows the saying, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and prepares some outstanding meals. Another dinner scene gives us some insight into the characters of Andreas’ family, when Karla meets his mother, his aunt and uncle for the first time.
It was only now that Karla noticed a third person in the room, a thin, quiet, unassuming woman, probably in her fifties. Andreas introduced her as his mother. She greeted Karla with a shy smile. After saying hello, she seemed to disappear among the other people. Karla was amazed how little mother and son resembled each other. Aunt Maria had prepared a typical dish of the area for lunch—coniglioand polenta, rabbit stew with slices of corn mush fried in olive oil and topped with parmesan cheese—as well as vegetables and salad. It was a very tasty meal, but Karla, who by nature wasn’t a big eater, constantly had to stop Maria from putting more food on her plate.
“Cara, you’re much too thin, you have to eat.” Uncle Alois tried to put another piece of meat on Karla’s plate.
“Leave her alone, for god’s sake,” Andreas finally intervened. “You know, Alois, not everybody can eat as much as you do. You could actually do with a little less yourself. You must be twice as fat as when I saw you last time.”
“Don’t be fresh, young man.” Uncle Alois grinned. “Here, have some more wine.”
In the above scene, we get to know the family by the way they behave at the table. We see Andreas’ unassuming mother, we witness his kindly aunt and boisterous uncle showing their old-fashioned hospitality and we experience the playful bantering between Andreas and his uncle and we realize that Karla despite her cooking skills is a slender woman and modest eater.
In Emilia, the third book of the trilogy, a meal at a grotto in the south of Switzerland (grotto is a special kind of country restaurant), Andreas and his children eat out, since Karla, the mother, was visiting her ailing father in Peru. The youngest child, Emilia, wants to eat her spaghetti the same way her older sister does, rolling the strands on her fork.
He (Andreas) scrunched his forehead and glared at Emilia. “What are you doing? Stop playing with your food.”
Emilia, who had been trying to roll spaghetti on her fork, which kept sliding off, looked at him with big eyes, which quickly filled with tears. She was obviously shocked at her father’s unusually harsh tone. So was Laura.
An otherwise loving father, Andreas also has a temper and the tension that has been building between him and his wife brings out his angry side. The conflict in the family is made even more obvious during a meal, which is normally a time of sharing and relaxation.
In all these examples food is used both as a way to enrich and enliven a story as well as showingunderlying themes and giving us insight into the characters.
Thank you for stopping by to share your food for thought, Christa!
You can find Christa and her books here:
Darling Shelley invited me to guest post on her blog about food. Food my characters eat. Curiously, in my first trilogy, SIREN SUICIDES, there is hardly any talk of food except human souls, which is what sirens sing out of people, for, well, nourishment. But in my second novel ROSEHEAD a 12 year old American girl, Lilith Bloom, and her talking whippet Panther, travel from Boston to Berlin for a family reunion, and there they pig out on hearty German food, which is partially inspired by my own memories of traveling from Moscow to Berlin (I was 11) and marveling at the abundance of food unlike what I have ever seen in my life, considering the fact that while I devoured fat German sausages, most Russians had to get food by coupons.
Upon arriving for the first time for breakfast, Lilith approached it uncertainly:
She expected breakfast to be the usual American fare, but what she saw made her gasp with glee. The table offered all kinds of jam, marmalade, syrup, and nugat-crème; plates of rolls, bowls of yoghurt, and trays of freshly made waffles that issued a delicious smell.
In contrast to this, Panther tells Lilith that he eats mastiffs for breakfast, as a joke. You see, there is a vicious mastiff in the mansion, and, of course, there is an immediate rivalry between the two, although later Panther primarily eats raw steak, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, because both Lilith and Panther very much like Holmes and Watson, investigate the cause for the rose garden surrounding the mansion to behave strangely, and suspect it to be carnivorous, there are also many instances when Lilith is close to losing her breakfast, although she never does. She often skips lunch, her and her dog, traversing in the midst of foul smelling greenery, hoping to find the cause for both the stink and the noises the flowers produce. If it were me, I certainly would prefer to do said activity on an empty stomach.
There remains the case of dinners. On most days, exhausted and scratched all over (remember, this is a rose garden we're talking about), Lilith and Panther usually came back to the mansion to eat dinner, and, funny enough, Lilith requested breakfast for dinner, nostalgic of American food:
“Can I please have breakfast for dinner?” She said to the housekeeper. “I’d like an omelet with cheese, American style, with bacon, sausage and blueberry pancakes on the side. Oh, and a bowl of steak for Panther.”
They do, however, eat the typical German sausage, the bratwursts, and rostbratwursts, blutwursts, bockwursts, knckwursts, leberwursts, and, of course, potatoes, fried potatoes, potato salad, potato pancakes and the like, with mustard. Well, now my mouth is watering from just writing this. Panther manages to steal the sausage right off Lilith's fork, all the while telling her (he is a talking dog, after all) that he would prefer squirrels, that he even dreams of squirrels:
“It was the most beautiful dream I’ve ever seen! I was chasing squirrels, a dozen fat juicy squirrels.” He rolled up his eyes. “Then I caught them, they tasted like—” (He gets interrupted and sadly we never find out what exactly they tasted like.)
There are also macabre and grotesque references to unusual food images, like this one:
“Whatever happened to your beret?” Gabby asked suddenly. “I thought I saw you put it on this morning."
Lilith inhaled, exhaled, and resorted to the only defense she had against her mother’s wrath. “Wild elephants ate it, mother. They thought it was a gigantic strawberry from Mars. In fact, the garden was full of them. Elephants, not strawberries. I’m dreadfully sorry we missed dinner. We watched them do a private ballet performance for us. In tutus. Right, Panther?” Panther raised his ears and flashed her a look that could only mean, Did you really say, elephants in tutus?”
I think in all, I had fun writing in food choices into ROSEHEAD and playing with them. And now I will go make myself some German sausage, because all this writing about German food made me hungry. So thanks for reading, and bye. *opens the fridge*
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Ksenia!
You can find Ksenia and her books here:
In my world-building, both aliens and humans love food. But that shouldn’t be surprising—food is the sustenance of life. But it is much, much more than that!
Cyn-Tia Silverthorne wakes up to find herself stranded on an alien planet. She finds seven other teenaged humans and they are as confused as she is. To Cyn’s delight, and some apprehension, twenty-four aliens (all teens on their own planets) have also been deposited: eight Temman, eight Irandi, eight Reannone. Every day, supplies and instructions are delivered to their village for pickup by the managing committee—which consists of Cyn, Stire, Frakis A Kirba, and Tine Jana—one representative from each race. After a time, the four races create a working collective, but they soon decide to rebel. The Guardian appears and sends them on a series of quests, but the grand purpose of the experiment still eludes them.
In this novel, many of the plot points are triggered by food.
For example, cooks from all four species gather in the new community building to prepare the first meal:
I turned back to the kitchen. Stire was listening to a discussion. The stances of the participants indicated a disagreement. I walked a little closer.
“I am not going to let some alien watch me cook our food. Cooking is a private matter. We have many rituals we perform while we cook. It is part of our religion,” said an Irandi.
“That is indeed a problem,” agreed Stire. He looked at me. Was I supposed to come up with an answer? Probably, since the other cook involved was a human.
My motivation for this scene was to point out the first of many battles the managing committee would encounter in their attempt to get the four races to work together. I also wanted to introduce the notion of uniqueness of culture, and food rituals were a not-so-obvious place to begin.
Just then, a male Reannone walked up to our table. “You wanted to see me, Frakis?” he asked.
“Yes, Gree. Where have you been all day?”
“Oh, I took a day off. I’ve been working too hard at these menial tasks. It was some alien’s turn.” Gree seemed quite defiant.
Frakis tapped the table. “It doesn’t work that way, Gree. We all need to pull together and get our village running. We don’t know why we’re here, but we need to make the best of this situation. And making the best of it means everyone contributes. This is our life, for the time being. We’re all taking turns at the tasks and, while I agree that most of them are menial, they’re necessary for our survival.”
“Well, I’m not going to do any.” Gree straightened his posture.
Frakis glance at us before she replied, “Then you don’t get any food or housing. That’s what we’re all working for.”
Gree stared at Frakis for a moment, and then walked away.
I used this scene to plant my first seed relating to rebellion. I wanted to show that while the members of the managing committee were working well together, not everyone else was having an easy time of it—which put further pressure on Cyn, Stire, Frakis, and Jana. Would the eventual large-scale rebellion lead to loss of food for everyone? Find out in AN ALIEN COLLECTIVE.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Roxanne!
by Chantal Boudreau
Food isn’t necessarily the first thing that you think of when you think of fantasy... or the second thing... or the third or fourth thing. In fact, superseded by monsters and magic, warriors and weapons, it may be ignored altogether in the typical fantasy novel.
Understandably, food isn’t likely to play an integral role in the usual fantasy plot, which is why there is little focus placed on what and how things are eaten in many fantasy stories. But considering world-building is the cornerstone of fantasy fiction, and food is often a factor of ceremony, culture and social interactions, it makes sense that the concept of who tends to eat what and when be addressed as part of the backdrop of the tale. Fantasy writers often describe religions, political systems, architecture and flora and fauna. Food is just another way of flavouring the fiction.
This can be an especially useful tool if the fantasy in question is based on existing myths or cultures, as a means of highlighting this connection. For example, if the fantasy touches on the Middle East, one might expect to see figs, goat cheese and falafel, or if it is a northern tale, the writer might have characters feasting on seal or caribou meat (or the fantasy equivalent.) In my novel Magic University, which finds its basis in medieval Europe as is common to many fantasy novels, the typical fare is ale, bread, smoked meats and cheese, and fruits or vegetables one could expect to see growing in the average European garden.
Researching this component of a story is not that difficult in today’s day and age. You can even find books that specifically discuss what might be eaten in a fantasy setting, such as What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank by Krista D. Ball. There are also cookbooks available that are based on existing fantasy series, such as Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home (Otik’s spicy fried potatoes is a favourite of mine) based on the Dragonlance series or Nanny Ogg’s Cookbookbased on the Discworld series, just to give you a few ideas.
It also makes sense to include examples of food and drink as part of both plot and character development, giving the writer another means to an end. For example, in the opening scene of Magic University (the first book in my Masters and Renegades fantasy series), there is a small skirmish between Reid Blake’s imp, Stiggle and the dwarven competitor, Shetland, which is instigated by food. The function of the scene is two-fold. It creates a tension between Stiggle and Shetland that persists throughout the novel, allowing for later scenes of discord that exist mostly for comic relief. It also introduces Shetland’s obsession with food and drink, part of his character development which shows itself again several times in the story.
Food can be used to distinguish one setting from another, as well. A grubby pub for commoners will have very different items on the menu than an upscale tavern intended for higher-class patrons. Along with a description of decor and existing customers, a description of the food and drink being offered and served can help set the tone of the establishment. In Magic University, each competition Way Station is being hosted by a different wizard, who provides refreshments that match their personality. The variety of food and drink found at each Way Station not only tells readers something about the Way Station attendant, but also adds to the particular ambiance of the Way Station.
Along with general plot and character development, food can also provide an opportunity to flush out the more unusual plot elements and distinct characters. A fantasy novel may contain characters with very particular feeding needs, something that adds to the novelty and fantastical nature of that character. One of my characters in Magic University, Ebon, is a person who exists trapped between two dimensions due to an accident that occurred when he was apprenticed to a Renegade wizard. Rather than feeding the way most people do, he draws his sustenance from magical energies, draining power from magical spells or items in the process. As he puts it: “I still appreciate a good meal, on a purely aesthetical level. It is just something that is unnecessary. I draw my energy from other sources.” I even include one scene where his feeding needs interfere with his goals.
As you can see, there are many reasons a fantasy writer would want to incorporate food into a story. If you’ve never really contemplated the role food can and does play in well-written fantasy, you may want to give it a go. Consider it food for thought.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Chantal!
Chantal Boudreau is an accountant/author/illustrator who lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband and two children. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she writes and illustrates horror, dark fantasy and fantasy and has had several of her stories published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines. Fervor, her debut dystopian novel, was released in March of 2011 by May December Publications, followed by Elevation, Transcendence, and Providence. Magic University, the first in her fantasy series, Masters & Renegades, made its appearance in September 2011 followed by Casualties of War and Prisoners of Fate.
You can find Chantal and her books here:
Food. Such a small word, but holds a lot of meaning. When I wrote Stolen Gifts, I didn’t start off with food in mind. It is a paranormal mystery and romance after all. However, as I plotted, food started to play a role in some scenes giving me a path for character development.
Food played a role in building the characters in the novel.
Writing in a first person POV presents several challenges for an author.
Readers are only in touch with the lead characters thoughts and actions.
They see other characters through the leads eyes, leaving a lot to interpretation.
The trick for the writer is to convey the true characteristics of secondaries through their actions.
Vanessa is the main character, but what novel is complete without a lead male? In this case it’s Caine. Since Stolen Gifts is in Van’s POV, I had to find ways to show readers Caine’s personality. Van’s insecurities show through in how she views Caine, therefore distorting him somewhat.
I used food and touch to let Caine shine through. For example:
I must have made a sound as Caine turned around. “Do you need any help?” I asked looking away quickly.
“Nah, I got it under control, and it isn’t much anyway. Have a seat and make up your tea. The half and half and sugar are over there,” he said as he pointed to the counter. Now I knew he remembered, I drink my tea with half and half, not milk. It was a habit I picked up when I was eleven, visiting the UK with my family.
“It smells good. You made bacon, my favorite.”
He piled on three pancakes and several slices of bacon on a warmed plate from the oven and placed it in front of me. He then moved the syrup and butter closer to me, then returned to the stove and made a plate for Garrett and placed it in the oven.
Van doesn’t see Caine for what he’s doing. Even after an eight-year separation, he still remembered her preferences. I wanted to show Caine’s provider nature. I also wanted to show his attentiveness to her. Van doesn’t see any of his actions as true to whom he is, but determines his actions as that of a caring brother.
Food can also play a sensual role in scenes. Who hasn’t used food to win someone’s affections in some way? The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, is a commonly-said phrase. But what if the reverse was also true? What if a man used it to gain…for lack of better word…entry?
Van misses Caine’s small hints, even though he is continuously dropping them. In this scene things heat up between the two of them:
The boy’s dinners were aroma infused and looked so good that I couldn’t resist taking some bites from Garrett’s Basil Chicken stir-fry. Enjoying a stolen bite I closed my eyes and was lost in flavor. I detected a new scent and opened my eyes to see a fork filled with Lime Green Chicken Curry.
Caine held up the fork. “Do you want to try some of mine?”
“Sure.” I wrapped my mouth around the offered bite, while he watched me, his eyes never leaving mine.
“Is it not too hot for you, Van?” Garrett asked.
The moment was broken. I looked to Garrett and mouthed a silent thank you. Caine was intoxicating, and if he continued this way I doubted I could restrain myself. All I wanted to do at that moment was jump across the table into his lap and kiss him. Garrett’s presence would not have been a deterrent. But we have work to do and Caine was not interested.
It’s too bad she didn’t see it for what it was. Caine definitely communicates his desires and demonstrates his personality through these small moments. Food is part of our everyday lives, but with a twist is also part of relationships. Dinner with a man or woman can be the lead to a great or horrible relationship. We spend time talking over our plates, getting to know each other. Lunch with the girls can be a soul building experience. And food shared on one fork can be an invitation for so much more.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Rasha!
You can find her at:
Blog Tour for STOLEN GIFTS by Rasha Selim
May 26th – 30th, 2014
Sponsored by Gliterary Girl Book Tours
Back cover blurb: Whoever said you can’t go home again was right. My name is Van, and my life isn't exactly going the way I'd expected. I moved far from home, away from everyone I know and love to avoid having to reveal my Gift...a Gift so strong it scares me. A Gift so strong I know people would try to use me for their own gain, regardless of how much it may hurt me. A dear friend from my youth is getting married back home, and while I'm thrilled for her, I know what waits for me there--disappointment from my parents, and concern from my brother and friend. But worst of all, I have to face Caine, a man I have loved for as long as I can remember, who just doesn’t feel the same way about me. Somehow, Caine and I find ourselves in the middle of investigating the mysterious disappearances of other Gifted people. When the two of us are abducted, I have to decide if I am willing to use my Gift to save us, even though doing so will reveal my abilities to Caine. Little did I know that using my Gift is exactly what the villain is waiting for…putting both our lives are in jeopardy.
Having a Gift is hard. Keeping the ability to read and manipulate minds a secret from family and friends is torture.
Vanessa (Van) Lyons is terrified of her very powerful Gift of Mind, and has been hiding it from her family since she was a child. Her Gift troubled her so much that she moved away from everything and everyone she knew to avoid the possibility of the truth being discovered. She's stayed away for a long time, making excuses for staying put in her charming little cottage in a small town far enough away to be a comfortable buffer. But an invitation to the wedding of her childhood best friend Kelley brings her back home...and forces her to confront all of her fears and emotions. It also forces her to be face-to-face with the man she has loved since they were young.
Caine Moore is a handsome journalist with a playboy reputation. Seen frequently about town or in the tabloid pages with a different beautiful woman on his arm, he has become a completely different man from the boy Van grew up with. Tension builds between them as he sends Van mixed messages throughout the pre-wedding festivities, confusing her and making her yearn for things she's spent a long time convincing herself she could never have.
Caine has been working on a story, and has seen things he shouldn't see. In his desire to protect Van, he inadvertently pulls her into an intriguing but deadly case that puts her right into the killer's path...
Excerpt for Paranormal Fans
My Gift is a part of me. It lays dormant, wanting to be used and I have deprived myself for so many years. On the rare occasions when my control slips, and I use it, I feel whole. Denying it for so long was splitting my soul into two. I realized that I would have to learn a new kind of control. Instead of complete dismissal, I would have to use it on occasion to keep my mind and soul intact.
As the guard approached the door of our prison, I placed a Suggestion in his mind that he would believe what I told him. I wasn’t changing the way he behaved, just what he was going to perceive at that moment. He opened the door and stood in the archway.
Buy Links for STOLEN GIFTS
Bio for Rasha Selim
Author Rasha Selim was born in Cairo, Egypt and was raised in both Cairo and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She moved to the U.S. to attend college and pursue a career as a Forensic Psychologist. She left criminology behind to become the mother of three wonderfully active boys. Rasha has spent her life engaged with books and as stories of her own began to develop she knew that she had to get them down in print. She is extremely excited to be sharing her stories with the world. Rasha lives in upstate New York where she is blessed to be surrounded by her loving and supportive husband, children, great friends and incredible books.
What do my characters eat?
That is a good question. Well they certainly all have an appetite but food is not what they are really after.
They have a deeper hunger, one that drives them to do the unthinkable, the impossible… what they must to survive.
This kind of hunger gnaws at your belly, a constant reminder of something you crave that is just out of reach.
Yes within each of us, there is hunger, but is this hunger ever satiated with mere food?
That is the case with the Gargoyles in my book…they hunger as well but it is a different kind of hunger, one that fuels a need for vengeance, spurred by a centuries old betrayal. The hunger they hold inside torments them, shapes them into the creatures that they have become, and inevitably drives them to do the unimaginable to satisfy that very hunger.
If I were a Gargoyle, what would I eat? Interestingly enough I am sure that very same question has been asked for centuries. Unfortunately, it would seem there is still no accurate answer. But if I were a Gargoyle, awakened for a short amount of time, I guess I would eat whatever I could get my hands on. And in my Gargoyles' cases, since they are residing/awakening in New England they would probably enjoy the local fare, such as lobster rolls, clam chowder, or maybe even a Fluffernutters sandwich before they turned back to stone.
That’s what I would be doing. ;)
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lorraine!
You can find Lorraine and ALL of her books here:
Food, like water, is life, but how many eat simply to stay alive? Food does more for us than simply sustain life, and in fantasy fiction it can do the same.
When my coauthor and I set out to write The Duchess of the Shallows
, we knew instantly that Duchess' past life as a baker was important. She is a baker by trade, because bread is food that is enjoyed by both commoners and high born, even if the food itself isn't any different. The "presence" of that food gave Duchess an air of being in two worlds at once, which factored heavily into the outcome of both that novel and the series in general. As bread is a food eaten throughout the real world we know, so it is eaten throughout the fantasy, fog-bound city of Rodaas. The selling of that bread took Duchess all along its winding streets and alleys, setting up a potential network of allies and contacts she would need to help her with the heist she planned. Finally, but how better to help readers connect with the hero than to have her triumph by the small knowledge of flour and yeast?
An unwritten rule of fantasy is that the details of the world-building must be "realistic", which among other things means that the food the characters eat must be something you'd expect to find in medieval Europe. I have never quite understood why it's "realistic" for a medieval-style world to contain dragons but not, say, coffee. Yes, yes, I know that particular beverage didn't make its way to Europe until the 16th century at the earliest, but dragons never got there at all and no one complains about that. So I ignore that rule because why not.
In my second novel, The Fall of Ventaris
, two characters who are anything but wealthy buy and share an orange. Although one could argue that such a fruit was an unaffordable treat in their world, I liked the idea of two people walking through a crowded marketplace, tearing wedges from an orange they passed back and forth. There was a certain camaradarie inherent in that image, one that trumped any sense of "realism."
Food is an experience we all share, and there is something comforting about both the way food is prepared and the way it is served. Duchess uses bread-making to calm her nerves and clear her mind before braving the dangers of the estate of Baron Eusbius. Later in the series, a feast is a welcome interlude before the climactic events in the imperial palace, events Duchess herself has secretly engineered. Some of the food she eats there – ripe pears and spicy sausage – is familiar, and the some – like the exotic bataya – is beyond her experience, but all of it helps ground her before the dangers to come. She eats this meal with persons of power, and yet the ritual of eating together makes her feel a part of a group that, under normal circumstances, would not deign to be in the same room with something they think so ignobly born.
Fiction, to me, is as necessary to life as food, and food is as much of an adventure as fiction. The two together – well, for me they make something truly fantastic.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Neil!
You can find Neil and his books here:
Strangely, Incredibly Good…Food!
Can your relationship with others affect your relationship with food?
Absolutely. For better, and for worse.
In my novel, Strangely Incredibly Good
, the main character Katherine “Cat” Glamour is an emotional eater. Now, don’t assume that the book is all about women dealing with weight issues - no way. It’s one of the subjects the book covers, but it’s by no means its only theme.
By the time you’ve hit 40, I believe you’ve read & seen enough messages about how to eat and exercise right to last you three lifetimes. Enough, already! This book is meant as a fun escape for men and women of all ages. Okay. Glad we cleared that up.
At the beginning of the novel, Cat is unhappy with her life, and her weight, and the two - pardon the pun - feed off eachother. Cheesies and chocolate milk are her favorite snack.
Why did I choose those? They are my nine-year-old daughter’s favorite snack, besides candy. When I’m writing, I write what I know, and then make it about ten times larger than life.
So, Cat has been up snacking the night before, and when she decides to try to pull herself and her life together and start exercising on a Wii, it’s only natural a genie would appear from out of the Wii, right? Told you I like to make my stories larger than life.
Once Cat and Genie become acquainted (I’m not sharing that part, you’ll have to read the book!) the Genie, Eugene, criticizes her food choices: “These are awful for you, you know.” He holds up a cheesie, carefully inspecting it. “I can’t believe you eat this crap. I lived on a farm when I was a boy, and one of my chores was making cheese. This is not even remotely close to how that tasted. This is so full of artificial, I think it could fly to Mars, visit the surface on one of those fancy rovers, return to Earth, and still look and taste the same as it did the year before.”
Eugene, as you’ll discover, is sweet, charming and funny. He’s no jerk. In that scene, however, I wanted to underscore how even nice people who “mean well” can make people who are struggling to lose weight feel small. Cat had just begun an exercise routine. She’d begun. That’s what matters, and yet, she was still met with criticism. When all that criticism builds up, it can immobilize and damage a person like clogged arteries.
Thankfully, Eugene soon realizes how he can help Cat, and becomes one of her greatest allies in her journey of self-discovery. Too bad he didn’t show up before her series of very bad dates, and very bad shakes. Cat is set up by her sister, Cici, on one of those dates, but the date is a total bust. I’ll let Cat explain the rest: I didn’t think dating could go downhill after that. How much more hill was left bottom at that point, right? Wrong. Later that night, Cici apologized profusely by text. <So sorry. Jeezus. Didn’t know he was such a jerk? Forgive me? xo>
<Know you meant well. Pls dnt bring anyone else 2our Cosmo dates. Want to drink in misery of being old and fat with sister.>
<Hey, I’m not fat! Or old! Bitch.>
I laughed out loud. I could handle talking about my weight with her, and it was never a competition. Though she was at a healthy weight, she’d been supportive, a participant, in fact, of all my attempts to lose weight, including the week I asked her to follow the latest craze and drink Spinach and Chick Pea Shakes with me for two whole weeks. She was such a sport, even buying the groceries for our little adventure, because I couldn’t afford everything. Such a sport, until 3 p.m. on Day Three, when I received this text from her:
<In crucial business meeting. Boss making presentation. Am filling up room with atrocious fart smell. Do I stay or do I leave?>
< Be heroic. Tell them to get out while they’re still breathing!>
I put my phone down on the kitchen table, threw my head back, and had the biggest belly laugh I’d had in ages. Tears were streaming down my face. Then Gram came in.
“What’s the joke?” she stood at the counter, making tea.
“Oh God, Cici and I have the farts. It appears these shakes make us fart.”
“I coulda told you that. Shit Shakes. That’s how they taste, and that’s what they make you do.”
“You think we’re actually going to lose weight on these?” I push my half-empty green shake glass away, feeling a little nauseous.
“I think you’re gonna poop a lot, get sick of the Shit Shakes, and fill up on all your favourite foods next week. That’s what I think.”
I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.
“Yea. I hate to say it but you’re probably …Ewww.” I’d let another big one out. They just kept coming and coming. I’d lost all control!
“I’m outta here, Fartsy. You’d better get a handle on that before you bed another man,” she raised her tea mug and nodded, as if to wish me luck.
This scene is one of my favorites from the book, and was inspired by some of the crazy diets I’ve tried with my sister. No, I’ve never had a Spinach and Chick Pea shake, and I never will. “Diet” is a four letter word for me now. I try to limit sugar and desserts instead of dieting. You’ll probably notice, though, that my characters have a love for milkshakes, and ice cream with sprinkles. Now you know my dessert weaknesses. Add some hot fudge, and I’m yours!
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Heather!
Heather Grace Stewart is best known for her poetry, which includes: Three Spaces
, Carry on Dancing
, and Where the Butterflies Go
In 2012, she published the screenplay, The Friends I’ve Never Met
, which has been well received on both Kindle and Kobo.
Her two non-fiction books for youth are part of the Warts & All educational series on Canada’s Prime Ministers.
She has written for a wide range of magazines, including Reader’s Digest and Canadian Wildlife magazine. Her regular column in the Queen’s Alumni Review magazine, Grace’s Grads, was created in September 2005.
Heather’s poems have been published in Canadian literary journals, newspapers, and magazines, Canadian, British and South African school textbooks, audio CD's, online journals, international print anthologies,
and in the British small presses.
You can visit Heather here:
So, today on But What Are They Eating? we are going to change things up a bit:
But What Aren’t They Eating?
In my Emi Lost & Found series, there is one thing that the heroine Emi absolutely will not eat: chocolate.
You’re probably thinking, “Is she really a woman? Is she even human?” The answer is yes to both questions.
In the three main novels, it’s mentioned on a few occasions that she doesn’t like or want chocolate. It’s offered a couple times, but the reader never really knows the reason behind her distaste.
On a side note, here’s a little tidbit about my series. The three novels that make up the bulk of this contemporary (yet atypical) romance series – Lost and Found, Time Stands Still, and Never Look Back – were released in the spring of 2011. After readers finished them, one of the most common questions I got from people was about the chocolate.
A little over a year later, I got this crazy idea to write a prequel and release it in chapters on my website. In Not Today, But Someday, everyone finally discovered Emi’s reason for avoiding the delectable treat.
First of all, it’s not an allergy. When Emi was younger, on what she thought was her first date, she indulged in Raisinettes after the boy who took her to the movies dropped her off at the theater with his step-sister and continued on–by himself–to an arcade.
Later in the book, sixteen-year-old Emi has run away from her mother’s apartment, and has begged her new friend, Nate, to let her stay at his house for the night. Confronted by his mom, Emi opens up about her own:
“She’s leaving my dad,” Emi says. “I honestly don’t know how to deal with this.” She takes a bite of the apple and chews it slowly, tracing the marble pattern of the countertop.
“I’m sure it’s not easy, Emily.” Mom leans on her elbows on the island, attentive to Emi. “Sometimes it helps to talk about it.”
I don’t want to make her uncomfortable. “Mom–”
“He cheated on her. I caught him,” Emi continues. I look at her, biting my lip, allowing her to speak. “He took his mistress to this restaurant. I was there with some friends, and this woman’s laughter rose above the noise of the entire place,” she says evenly. I can tell that emotions lie just beneath the surface, but I admire her strength as she continues. “I watched her for a few minutes, thinking it was sweet how her date was feeding her fruit dipped in chocolate. They had a fondue pot between them. He held a cherry up by its stem, covered with chocolate, and fed it to her. The chocolate dripped down her chin, and he stopped her from wiping it off with her napkin. I was entranced. It seemed so intimate. I was imagining that being me someday. I even nudged my friends and got their attention, showing them what I was watching. And then her date leaned in and licked the chocolate from her face, eventually meeting her lips with his. He kissed her for a long time, and one of my friends said, ‘That looks like your dad.’”
Mom has a distinct frown on her face, and she puts her hand on Emi’s arm. Chocolate.
It’s all in her head, essentially. No amount of craving for something she once liked will make her set aside the association of chocolate with her father’s infidelity.
Well, there are two cravings in my series that do, but… well, you should read the books to find out what they are!
The prequel, Not Today, But Someday, is no longer on my website, but it is offered for free for your Kindle, Nook or iPad. It is also part of the four-book Complete Emi Lost & Found series! And if you read these and like them, there is a spin-off series available, as well.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lori!
You can contact Lori here:
And find her books here:
I asked the wonderful Shelley if I could do this write up and she graciously said yes. Ten minutes later I wondered, Dude, what are they eating? In The Cistern the main characters own and work at a restaurant, so it should be pretty simple.
I have worked in the restaurant industry for nearly 10 years and have always been amazed at the variety of the characters you find working there, as well as the crazy things that can go on, so I of course wanted to write something that took place mostly in and around a restaurant. I had started a few ideas, mostly dealing with life and love, but none of it was really working. I put the idea in a back file in my brain and went on.
A couple of years ago my wife got a part-time gig cleaning dealing with foreclosed houses. The job was supposed to be simple: take pictures of the building, inspect it, take note of any damage, clean it out and collect the cash. House #1 had been abandoned for a year. Going inside we were amazed at how much stuff was left behind. Shoes, kitchen toys, a dining room set, kids skateboard, family photos, little kids drawings, one kids report card, candles…it was as if the family had to get out of Dodge in a hurry. Right away the story ideas started churning. What happened to the family? Where did they go? As we searched the main floor the ideas were bubbling and preparing to erupt. Then we went into the basement.
If you read chapter #4 in The Cistern, Chrys and Spencer go to what they refer to as “The Creepy House” and pretty much do the same walk-through that my wife and I did. And in the basement they find the same peculiar thing we did.
The hairs on her arms felt electrified at just the way her brother said her name. He was already moving forward.
Spencer felt drawn to walk around these inside walls. There had to be a door or something. There had to be a reason for them to be there. He said, “This is a concrete room. The walls don’t go up.”
“They don’t go all the way to the ceiling.”
Here in Saskatchewan there are many old houses with cisterns in them. They are basically reservoirs for collecting rain water that can be used for many household things that don’t need filtration and all that. The tank at the back of your toilet is a cistern. This one happened to be about 10’ on each side and 6’ high with a trap door on top. The ideas burst through the damn.
I decided to put some old character ideas I had (it was actually a couple originally) but make them a brother and sister. I brought back the restaurant idea and The Alcrest Mysteries were born.
Food is an important part to developing the characters. Yes, I’m counting The Alcrest Gastropub as a character as well as the main ones Spencer (chef and owner) and Chrys (server and constant eater). It starts from Chrys adding hot chocolate powder to her coffee to what Spencer puts on the menu. There are even a couple of bonus recipes in the paperback. What they personally eat has not been completely delved into yet. Restaurant workers are notorious for eating crap. Spencer’s favorite late night snack, for instance, is Chocolate Frosted Pop tarts (toasted) and a bowl of chocolate ice cream. Chrys, on the other hand, is also a dance instructor and jammer for a local roller derby team, so she tends to try and eat healthy. Not to mention she rarely pays for her own food, so eating in their restaurant or others is a constant treat.
Chrys and Spencer are just regular people living regular lives amongst outrageous circumstances. And, if you ask Spencer, amazing food courtesy of The Alcrest Gastropub.
Thanks for returning to share more food for thought, Lorne!
You can find Lorne here:
Finding Lucas centers around Jamie Ross, a 32 year old associate television producer for Chicago’s sleaziest daytime talk show. She’s just about ready to end her toxic five year relationship with her bad boy turned metrosexual boyfriend and head off on a hilarious and life changing hunt to track down the love who got away. And Jamie wouldn’t be the fiery and sassy woman she is without her beloved and holistically nutritious family.
Jamie is a coffee loving carnivore and the total opposite of her health conscious mother, Leah, a crystal healer and colonic herbalist who shuns coffee, meat, sugar and anything chemical. Jamie, on the other hand, craves anything that Leah thinks might be bad for her body.
I created these two diametrically opposed eaters because of my own struggle to eat healthier and make sense of the organic world. I have always believed that everything is okay in moderation, be it meat, cheese, coffee and sugar. However, it’s interesting that my husband and many friends are vegetarians, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law grow their own food and have chickens to lay eggs and most of my loved ones are very aware of what they eat. In Jamie, I created a food rebel.
Growing up in a warm, loving and toxin free environment, Jamie always felt like she didn’t quite belong. And without her daily dose of caffeine, Jamie would never make it through the day. Navigating a difficult childhood with parents unlike any others in her suburban neighborhood, Jamie ate spelt bread and soy milk for snacks (in the 90s!) and distanced herself from her family as much as she could.
Food plays a major role in one of the most talked about scenes in Finding Lucas when Jamie, her stepmother, sister and Leah are all having lunch with Jamie’s boss, Andrew.
"Do you want some tea, Andrew?" Katie asks as she pulls five mugs down from the shelf.
"Do you have any coffee?" he asks.
Four heads swivel to look at him in shock.
"That word is blasphemy in this house. No caffeine, no sugar, no meat. But there is a vast assortment of tea," I tell him.
"Um, sure, tea would be great then. I feel so damn good. I haven't felt this loose in," and he rubs his chin, "huh, years. I haven't felt this relaxed in years."
"That's funny. David does that," Leah says to Andrew with interest.
"Dad does what?" I ask.
"Rubs his chin with one hand when he's thinking about something."
"Oh, that's just one of my little habits. I also grind my jaw like Jamie."
"Do you have a navel ring like Rachel's?" I ask.
"No. But I do have a tattoo on my hip. Katie saw it," he says and winks at Katie who flushes with pleasure.
Where did Mr. Charm come from? Jeez, he is just full to the brim with surprising character traits.
"Could I have some tea too, please?" I ask.
I don't want to sit at the kitchen table and chitchat about Andrew's tattoo because before he knows it, they'll have convinced him to take off his pants to show them.
"Of course, love. Katie, mix in a little of that mulch we bought. Jamie's color needs some perking up," Leah says and peers at my pores.
"Just plain tea, please."
I move my face back so she'll stop inspecting me. It's embarrassing.
How people eat relates to how they see the world and their place in it. Jamie just wants to find hers. And though she goes through a major transformation and comes to appreciate her family more than she ever has, you’ll still never find her without a cup of coffee plastered to her lips.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your food for thought, Samantha!
You can find Samantha here:
And Finding Lucas here:
By Anatoly Liberman
The questions people ask about word origins usually concern slang, family names, and idioms. I cannot remember being ever asked about the etymology of house, fox, or sun. These are such common words that we take them for granted, and yet their history is often complicated and instructive. In this blog, I usually stay away from them, but I sometimes let my Indo-European sympathies run away with me. Today’s subject is of this type.
Guest is an ancient word, with cognates in all the Germanic languages. If in English its development had not been interrupted, today it would have been pronounced approximately like yeast, but in the aftermath of the Viking raids the native form was replaced with its Scandinavian congener, as also happened to give, get, and many other words. The modern spelling guest, with u, points to the presence of “hard” g (compare guess). The German and Old Norse for guest are Gast and gestr respectively; the vowel in German (it should have been e) poses a problem, but it cannot delay us here.
The hostess and her guests
The related forms are Latin hostis
and, to give one Slavic example, Russian gost’
. Although the word had wide currency (Italic-Germanic-Slavic), its senses diverged. Latin hostis
meant “public enemy,” in distinction from inimicus
“one’s private foe.” (I probably don’t have to add that inimicus
is the ultimate etymon of enemy
.) In today’s English, hostile
are rather close synonyms, but inimical
is more bookish and therefore more restricted in usage (some of my undergraduate students don’t understand it, but everybody knows hostile
). However, “enemy” was this noun’s later meaning, which supplanted “stranger (who in early Rome had the rights of a Roman).” And “stranger” is what Gothic gasts
meant. In the text of the Gothic Bible (a fourth-century translation from Greek), it corresponds to ksénos
“stranger,” from which we have xeno
-, as in xenophobia
. Incidentally, by the beginning of the twentieth century, the best Indo-European scholars had agreed that Greek ksénos
is both a gloss and a cognate of hostis
(with a bit of legitimate phonetic maneuvering all of them can be traced to the same protoform). This opinion has now been given up; ksénos
seems to lack siblings. (What a drama! To mean “stranger” and end up in linguistic isolation.) The progress of linguistics brings with it not only an increase in knowledge but also the loss of many formerly accepted truths. However, caution should be recommended. Some people whose opinion is worth hearing still believe in the affinity between ksénos
. Discarded conjectures are apt to return. Today the acknowledged authorities separate the Greek word from the cognates of guest
; tomorrow, the pendulum may swing in the opposite direction.
Let us stay with Latin hostis for some more time. Like guest, Engl. host is neither an alien nor a dangerous adversary. The reason is that host goes back not to hostis but to Old French (h)oste, from Latin hospit-, the root of hospes, which meant both “host” and “guest,” presumably, an ancient compound that sounded as ghosti-potis “master (or lord) of strangers” (potis as in potent, potential, possibly despot, and so forth). We remember Latin hospit- from Engl. hospice, hospital, and hospitable, all, as usual, via Old French. Hostler, ostler, hostel, and hotel belong here too, each with its own history, and it is amusing that so many senses have merged and that, for instance, a hostel is not a hostile place.
Unlike host “he who entertains guests,” Engl. host “multitude” does trace to Latin hostis “enemy.” In Medieval Latin, this word acquired the sense “hostile, invading army,” and in English it still means “a large armed force marshaled for war,” except when used in a watered down sense, as in a host of troubles, a host of questions, or a host of friends (!). Finally, the etymon of host “consecrated wafer” is Latin hostia “sacrificial victim,” again via Old French. Hostia is a derivative of hostis, but the sense development to “sacrifice” (through “compensation”?) is obscure.
The puzzling part of this story is that long ago the same words could evidently mean “guest” and “the person who entertains guests”, “stranger” and “enemy.” This amalgam has been accounted for in a satisfactory way. Someone coming from afar could be a friend or an enemy. “Stranger” covers both situations. With time different languages generalized one or the other sense, so that “guest” vacillated between “a person who is friendly and welcome” and “a dangerous invader.” Newcomers had to be tested for their intentions and either greeted cordially or kept at bay. Words of this type are particularly sensitive to the structure of societal institutions. Thus, friend is, from a historical point of view, a present participle meaning “loving,” but Icelandic frændi “kinsman” makes it clear that one was supposed “to love” one’s relatives. “Friendship” referred to the obligation one had toward the other members of the family (clan, tribe), rather than a sentimental feeling we associate with this word.
It is with hospitality as it is with friendship. We should beware of endowing familiar words with the meanings natural to us. A friendly visit presupposes reciprocity: today you are the host, tomorrow you will be your host’s guest. In old societies, the “exchange” was institutionalized even more strictly than now. The constant trading of roles allowed the same word to do double duty. In this situation, meanings could develop in unpredictable ways. In Modern Russian, as well as in the other Slavic languages, gost’ and its cognates mean “guest,” but a common older sense of gost’ was “merchant” (it is still understood in the modern language and survives in several derivatives). Most likely, someone who came to Russia to sell his wares was first and foremost looked upon as a stranger; merchant would then be the product of semantic specialization.
One can also ask what the most ancient etymon of hostis ~ gasts was. Those scholars who looked on ksénos and hostis as related also cited Sanskrit ghásati “consume.” If this sense can be connected with the idea of offering food to guests, we will again find ourselves in the sphere of hospitality. The Sanskrit verb begins with gh-. The founders of Indo-European philology believed that words like Gothic gasts and Latin host go back to a protoform resembling the Sanskrit one. Later, according to this reconstruction, initial gh- remained unchanged in some languages of India but was simplified to g in Germanic and h in Latin. The existence of early Indo-European gh- has been questioned, but reviewing this debate would take us too far afield and in that barren field we will find nothing. We only have to understand that gasts ~ guest and hostis ~ host can indeed be related.
There is a linguistic term enantiosemy. It means a combination of two opposite senses in one word, as in Latin altus “high” and “deep.” Some people have spun an intricate yarn around this phenomenon, pointing out that everything in the world has too sides (hence the merger of the opposites) or admiring the simplicity (or complexity?) of primitive thought, allegedly unable to discriminate between cold and hot, black and white, and the like. But in almost all cases, the riddle has a much simpler solution. Etymology shows that the distance from host to guest, from friend to enemy, and from love to hatred is short, but we do not need historical linguists to tell us that.
Anatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears here, each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to him care of email@example.com; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.”
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Image credit: Conversation de dames en l’absence de leurs maris: le diner. Abraham Bosse. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
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