Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who Eats What?

Guess what this is? It's a BOOK LAUNCH!

My fantasy novel, EEL'S REVERENCE, has been re-issued by Echelon Press, and is now available from Amazon's Kindle store and in various other eformats at OmniLit.

To celebrate, I'm running a contest (details below) and I'm also on a blog book tour.

Since this is Fatal Foodies, I feel compelled to talk about how food figures into my novel.

One of my best reference books is Reay Tannahill's FOOD IN HISTORY--my go-to reference when I'm filling in the details of a world. What kind of country do the characters I'm working with live in? What kind of hunting/cooking technology do they have? For EEL'S REVERENCE, I placed the action primarily in a coastal area known as The Eel. Technology is basically late Middle Ages. Most people eat locally and frugally, but the wealthy can import foods and spices and culinary expertise from, as Terry Pratchett's characters often put it, "forn parts".

As has been said on this blog before, food sets the scene and time and is one way to characterize people or situations.

In EEL'S REVERENCE, the first meal Aunt Libby eats is served to her by Muriel, owner of a restaurant near the harbor. So what else would the food be but seafood and sea weed? Well, it could have been lots of things, but that pegged the restaurant and Muriel--food that's local, cheap and fresh. Aunt Libby even notes the cooking smells, and approves of the oil smelling clear. So Muriel, in addition to her other attributes, is a good, clean, honest cook who doesn't cut corners if it compromises quality.

When Aunt Libby goes into a farmhouse basement, she finds herself in a storeroom filled with preserved garden produce and home-made cheeses. The family is industrious, self-sufficient and plans ahead.

She dines with a rich merchant and says, "Servants in saffron and scarlet offered us dishes of rice, fruit, seafood and savory meat. Personally, I could have done with some vegetables, but Theofric wouldn't have had anything so common on his table." Another meal with the same merchant is even worse: "Everything was imported, which means nothing was fresh. If it wasn't smoked, it was dried or potted. If it wasn't creamed, it was sugared, sometimes both. What wasn't swimming in overspiced gravy was spread with overspiced nut paste. Even the fruit was stewed in brandy. The only vegetables in sight were those cut into cunning shapes or bordering the dishes, to make these costly messes look appetizing. I took as little as I could of the 'food', and made my meal by crabbing bits of garnish." When someone subsequently gives her an orange, it seals their friendship.

Chapter 1 of EEL'S REVERENCE is posted on my web site. "Line of Descent", a short story set in the same world, is free at Smashwords.

To enter the contest, just comment on my posts at any of my Blog Book Tour stops or on any of my posts at my web site AND mention EEL'S REVERENCE. Prizes are:

  • Free copy of EEL'S REVERENCE or FORCE OF HABIT, my upcoming sf/farce. (2 separate prizes-1 of each)
  • Free softback copy of SWORD AND SORCERESS XXIII, with my story "Undivided" in it.
  • Free softback copy of DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, with my story "Team Player" in it.
  • Your name in the story I'm going to write to promote FORCE OF HABIT.
Hope to see you on the tour!

Marian Allen


Abhishek Duggal said...

http://www.marianallen.com/novels/eels-reverence/comment-page-1/#comment-699 is the link to my comment.

Thanks for the opportunity!

forsurveysonly at gmail dot com

Marian Allen said...

You're entered! Thanks for dropping by. :)

Robin Spano said...

What a blast to kick off your tour! What a creative and cool sounding story! And you've inspired me to start looking at food in fiction in a whole new way.

Jo said...

Saw this mentioned on KindleKorner and thought I would stop by and see what is happening. The book EEL’S REVERENCE sounds interesting.

Carol Preflatish said...

Good luck with you blog tour and congrats on Eel's Reverence release.


Marian Allen said...

Thanks for all the good wishes!

Please follow me on the tour. Every blog that's hosting me wanted a different slant, so I think it will be interesting. Hope so, anyway! :)

Marian Allen

Inanna said...

I love this blog's picture at the top and the name. Awesome!

Eel's Reverence sounds interesting - love that an orange would seal the deal. Of course it would! :)

N. R. Williams said...

Food is important to the time period. Sorry I was a day late here but this sounds so interesting. I will check out your food source.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Marian Allen said...

I had the link wrong. Should be http//www.amazon.com/Food-History-Reay-Tannahill/dp/0517884046 . I fixed it in the post, too.

Marian Allen

The Yard Bard said...

Aunt Libby sounds like my kinda gal! Are there paper copies available for purchase, or should I look into Kindle? :)

The Yard Bard said...

Aunt Libby sounds like my kinda gal! Are there paper copies available for purchase, or should I look into Kindle? :)

Marian Allen said...

EEL'S REVERENCE is not in print, but you don't have to buy a Kindle to read it! It's available in .pdf, which you can read with Adobe's free Adobe Reader program, and Amazon has a free Kindle For PC program, too. :)

Marian Allen

sarAhhhhh said...

Poor, poor trees. They're giving me the saddest sappy-eyes, begging me to reconsider my comfort levels with reading on the screen for long stretches. Eel's Reverence here I come!

Marian Allen said...

Sarah, what other kind of eyes would a tree have but sappy?

Marian Allen

Jim and Karen Overturf said...

Very nice! I like the example of the way you described the food references. I am looking forward to reading EEL'S REVERENCE!