There's something magical about books and films, most often based on books, that take readers and viewers outside their vanilla world to delightful, undiscovered oases of tastes and aromas. Exotic and familiar fares able to transport us to a place we didn't know existed. Smells tantalize our taste buds and linger a lifetime. Like curry. One whole continent has perfumed the air with this spice. Travelers from India have confessed that once back home, the smell of curry lingers in their psyche even after years back in the UK or even Cleveland. In fact, incredible story, a client of mine admitted he had tried a curry hotdog at the Indians old stadium. There are extremists on both sides of this issue.
Adding spice to a dish is like. . . . well, how can I put this politely? Without a sprinkle of zest, a dish is like sex without an orgasm. Really. That's why since man started searing the hairs off his rodent main course, he's been looking under every bush, scaling every tree, burrowing into every snake hole to find something, anything, that wouldn't taste as bad as his charred entree.
There are so many books that have awakened me to the many nuances of international cuisine. Raised in a generation of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and boiled peas, it's a miracle my taste buds didn't dry up altogether. Julia Child saved me when I was reborn at the library reading about a strange, new world. Without liver loaf and Jello molds. Here's a list of some great books to whet your appetite and imagination: "Joy Luck Club", "Delicious", "Little Beach Street Bakery", "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Chef". My top choice is "Babette's Feast." The film is tantalizing. I felt as if I were hanging out in the kitchen and consuming the meal, inhaling the waft of Potage a la Tortue (turtle soup with sherry). The First Course.
Second Course: Buckwheat pancakes with caviar and sour cream. Champagne
Third Course: Quail in a puff pastry shell with foie gras and truffle sauce. Pinot Noir
Fourth Course: Endive salad
Fifth Course: Rum sponge cake with figs and candied cherries. Champagne
Sixth Course: Assorted cheeses and fruits. Sauternes
Seventh Course: Coffee. Grande Champagne cognac
Before the roll credits were done, I was fantasizing about my own kitchen and wondering where I would find the quail, and if it might be better to get chickens already slaughtered to spare my sensitivities. But the delicious aroma of Babette's kitchen won me over. The film was set in the late 19th century in Jutland, a region known for survivor-mode cuisine. Namely dried fish soaked and pounded into a disgusting paste with nary a smidgen of taste. Imagine if Babette had arrived as a French refugee and ordered Door Dash pizzas. Probably a gastronomic revolution.
Anyhow, it's time for lunch. All this talk about fantastic food has got me wanting to get outta here and find the nearest Arby's. Just for today, of course. The point of all this foodie focus is to show my appreciation for the contributions of chefs, growers and food lovers who have added gusto and refinement to the literary world. It's not only sex and horror that become erotic best sellers but Cuisine Art books with exotic, erotic flights of fanciful tastes, textures and aromas that form our perception of the world and its many cultures. Maybe I won't ever get to Nepal or Burkina Faso. Look it up. It's in Africa. But I can cozy up with a cookbook and discover Dal Bhat, Lentil soup and rice with all sorts of yummy sides and Riz gras. That's African Rice stew that masquerades as plain fare when one bite forces you to take another and another and delight at how common ingredients can explode with such addictive flavor.
Such a fortunate alliance—food and fiction. All you scribblers just be certain you have a sandwich or a Tex Mex takeout handy. And by the way, the recipes and dishes that spring up in my fiction are really tasty.