Literature and food.


At the risk of sounding unlady-like, I will state for the record that I do love my food.

I also like trying out new and unusual dishes (except if it sounds too gross). I will also admit that I am somewhat impressionable when it comes to food, especially if I’m reading about it. What I mean is, if I’m reading a novel and the characters are eating something, I will suddenly have a craving for it or if it’s something strange I will want to try it out.

The constant mention of ‘gruel’ in many old Classics (think: Dickens) has frequently had me cooking up some oats even though it’s never given the most flattering of descriptions.

Now there have been some stranger concoctions that I’ve read and whether these are common where the author is from or whether they are made up, I can’t be certain exactly.

There is one favourite of mine that has raised a few eyebrows.

A few posts back I mentioned Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. The main character travels with her father through Europe. In one country(I can’t remember which) they purchased freshly baked rolls and stopped for a picnic/lunch were they ate the rolls with pieces of dark chocolate in them.
Chocolate on bread? Might sound weird but it is very tasty, people. The reason for Nutella’s existence- although there is a difference, in terms of taste, between choc spread and actual chocolate pieces. I prefer real chocolate pieces so if I have a slab of dark or milk choccie on hand and if I just bought some fresh white rolls, then you know exactly what I’m having for dinner. 🙂

Apples and cheese? Yeah, why not.

For the more health-conscious amongst us, I did come across a new dishy idea after reading the Hunger Games. In the arena, Katniss makes a meal with goats’ cheese and apple slices in a roll. True to my curiosity I decided to try this combination out.
I didn’t have goats’ cheese and since it’s not very common in the supermarkets in my hometown, I used Camembert instead. It was surprisingly good on wholewheat brown bread. I later read that Feta was very similar to goats’ cheese so I tried that as well. I didn’t like it very much, the apple and Camembert made a far better match so lo and behold! I’ve found a new favourite sandwich filling!
As a gourmand, nothing frustrates me more than completely made-up foods that the author makes sound so mouth-wateringly delicious, yet you will never truly know what it tastes like. One example for me was, the Island Of Purple Fruits by Terry Jones(yes, him of Monty Python fame) which describes the said fruits as being the tastiest thing that the main character had ever eaten. As a kid (and even now) I ached to know what those fruits tasted like that. And the same goes for Rowling’s Butterbeer.

Weird dishes/foods mentioned in works of fiction: have you ever been tempted to try them yourself? If you’re a writer have you ever created unique delicacies in your stories? Or what’s the tastiest-sounding foodstuff you ever read about in a novel? Your thoughts are always welcomed.

NM 🙂

I’ve been tagged…twice!


Last month Nelle tagged me in a fun game of ’11 Questions’, and last week I was tagged again by August.  Special thanks to you ladies for choosing me.

The rules of the game are thus:

  1. Post the rules.
  2. In the same post, answer the questions.
  3. Create eleven new questions to ask eleven new participants.
  4. Tag those people and share links to their blogs in your post.
  5. Let them know you’ve tagged them.

 So I’ll start with NELLE’s questions first, and my answers.

1) Do you consider yourself a feminist? Depends. If I’m speaking to a misogynist, then the feminist in me comes out.

2) What is the silliest thing you will admit to doing? Falling for a pyramid scheme years ago and wasting quite a bit of money on it.

3) Favourite pudding. (I assume ‘pudding’ means any dessert in general) Chocolate Truffle Pie.

4) Your foremost vice. Errr, red wine?

5) Fastest driving speed with you at the wheel. I hate driving but I do remember once doing 100km/h on a 60 road. Ha ha!!!

6) Do you play a musical instrument? If so, please identify the instrument. Use to play recorder and guitar in school. Not anymore.

7) Barefoot or shoes? Barefoot…but with socks!

8) Secular or theocratic government? Definitely secular.

9) Would you sail the world alone? Definitely not. I have no idea how to sail.

10) One food you refuse to ever eat. Trotters! And anything that appears on Fear Factor.

11) Soup or stew? Soup. But if dumplings are involved then it’s stew.

 Go visit Nelle at http://nellewrites.net/

August’s questions

1. What did you eat for breakfast? Eggs on an English muffin with strawberry tea.

2. If you could re-live any day of your life, as often as you’d like, which would you choose? Oh dear, I can’t really think of one specific day. I’d like to think the best days of my life are yet to come.  😉

3. Of the books you’ve read recently, which is your favorite? Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

4. You have front row seats and back stage passes for any concert. Who’s on stage? Noel Gallagher, Jax Panik, Nicki Minaj, Goo Goo Dolls or Example. You choose…;)

5. Who’s the last person you hugged? My cat Deucalion.

6. What’s your favorite smell? Kentucky Fried Chicken! Or any food cooked with loads of oregano. LOVE OREGANO!

7. What’s your best bargain-hunting or money-saving tip? I believe this is a God-given talent. The ability to bargain-shop cannot be taught, sorry! Ha ha! Although if you want to spend less, create a shopping list of what you need and calculate what they will all cost. Then just take enough money for those items. That way you won’t buy unnecessary things. 🙂

8. What’s your funniest or strangest high school memory? I hated high school, so can’t really think of anything funny.

9. How do you feel about your birthday? Grrrrr…..that’s all I have to say!

10. What do you not miss about being younger? School lessons and horrible teachers!

11. What about you tends to surprise others? That I hold a Bachelors’ Degree in Archaeology and Classical Culture. Oh and that I’m currently writing a book!

Check out August’s blog: http://augustmclaughlin.wordpress.com/

*************************************************************

Okay, now it’s your turn! My questions are ready and I nominate the following people (who are not obligated in any way) to answer them:

Becky Day                       http://beckysblogs.wordpress.com/

Barb Froman                 http://barbfroman.wordpress.com/

Ricky-Lee Cranko        http://littlemisswednesday.wordpress.com/

Michelle Barber            http://loonyliterature.com/

Sharon Hughes             http://figmentsandimagination.wordpress.com/

Jennifer Neri                 http://jenniferneri.wordpress.com/

MJ Monaghan               http://mjmonaghan.wordpress.com/

Kelly Thompson           http://thompsonkelly.wordpress.com/

Katy Hulme                   http://storytellingnomad.wordpress.com/

Martin Shone               http://throughthemagicdoor.wordpress.com/

Widdershins                 http://widdershinsfirst.com/

These are my 11 Questions:

1.       If you attended Hogwarts, which house would you belong to, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw or Slytherin?

2.       I prefer Twitter to Facebook. Agree or Disagree?

3.        Romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant or staying in with pizza and a movie?

4.       If you were forced to marry ONE of the following men, who would you choose and why:

Ebenezer Scrooge, Severus Snape or Heathcliff?

And for the men, who would you marry:

Dolores UmbridgeMadame Bovary or Lindsay Lohan?

5.       Chocolate: white, milk or dark?

6.       Favourite Horror movie?

7.       If your personality were a colour, what colour would it be?

8.       What famous mystery would you most like to know the answer to? (Eg. The identity of Jack The Ripper or whether OJ was guilty.)

9.       If you were about to be executed(God forbid!) what would you choose as your last meal?

10.   Favourite CSI show: Las Vegas Original, New York or Miami?

11.   There are too many reality shows on TV. Agree or disagree?

So my tagged ones, hope you like my questions. The rest of you guys are free to answer any one of them if you wish because as always, I love to hear from you!

NM 🙂

Ps. the link feature on my dashboard is giving me problems, so I was forced to put up the entire URL’s for all the blogs. Sorry about that!

An ode to hot chocolate


I didn’t have anything substantial and relevant to post this week, so I thought I’d head off the beaten track. Again.
As I generally feel cold even in temperate climes, I found the recent change in weather quite unbearable, especially at night. As Autumn merges into Winter in the Southern Hemisphere, I pity those with “real jobs” who have to get up early on a really chilly morning.
There is one big consolation in having to endure cold weather however: an excuse to make a huge mug of hot chocolate and sit by the heater (or fire) with a good book and a nice, warm blankie wrapped around you.

What is it about hot chocolate and chocolate in general that makes life worthwhile? Whether you like it dark, white or just plain milk, chocolate is the ultimate comfort food and hot chocolate is just the thing to, to use a favourite expression I learnt from my mum, “warm the cockles of your heart” on a chilly winter’s night. I dare any health freak to challenge me on the benefits of chocolate. Our ancestors picked up on its therapeutic properties centuries ago.
If you sensed a history lesson coming on, then you know me too well. No tribute would be complete without turning back the clock a bit…
The Mayans and Aztecs began cultivating cocoa trees from as early as 600 CE. They believed that the tree was a gift from the god Quetzacoatl and that its beans and fruit contained magical powers. These ancient South Americans roasted and grounded the cocoa beans into a paste; they would add water and spices (no sugar) to make a thick nourishing beverage that the Aztecs called “chocolatl”.
I’ve noticed that many restaurants are now going back to the roots of chocolate and making very similar concoctions by adding spices and using actual chocolate instead of cocoa powder (when cocoa beans are reduced to a powder, the cocoa butter fat is extracted from it. This butter fat is what gives real chocolate a fuller taste). A few places I’ve been to, serve what I like to call chocolate “soup”. It’s labeled ‘hot chocolate’ on their menus but theirs has the consistency of custard- it’s thick and rich and could be served as a dessert by itself. As much as I love this sinfully richer type of hot chocolate, I would not recommend this late at night as its full-flavoured decadence will send you into a chocolate high that’s worse than a caffeine rush.
Sometimes a simple hot chocolate using good old-fashioned cocoa powder is all you need when you snuggling up in bed. So what makes the perfect cup of hot chocolate? It’s all down to personal tastes really. But here’s MY recipe for what I think constitutes a simple but delicious drink:
1. In a big mug add 3 teaspoons of Trumps Cocoa. Trumps is usually found in the baking aisle of most South African supermarkets, but I think it’s the best as it uses pure ground cacao beans which gives it a stronger taste and darker colour than the other popular brands of drinking cocoa.
2. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar. Add boiling water- fill to a third of the cup and stir until cocoa is dissolved.
3. Top up with hot milk. If you can froth the milk first, even better.
4. Stir in 2 teaspoons coffee creamer for a smooth velvety texture and there you have a simple but delicious cup of choccie goodness.

If this is too boring for you and you want to splash out a bit, add a tot of chocolate liqueur to the drink, then top it off with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce, and sprinkle with loads of chocolate vermicelli or choc chips. Now that’s death by chocolate.

What does all of this have to do with writing a book? Absolutely nothing, but it keeps me sane and happy and that’s what truly matters in the end, doesn’t it?

Have a warm and happy winter, good people. Snuggle up and make the most of it!

NM 🙂