I’m so pleased to be invited by author Uvi Poznansky, author of Apart from Love, A Favorite Son, A Peek at Bathsheba and other great books to participate in Wined, Dined and Read Blog Hop, which offers the notion that nothing goes better with a delicious meal and a fabulous wine than a good read.
If your main character were a glass of wine, which one would they be? Pamela Smith from Babylon, Long Island, the protagonist in my Pam of Babylon series, would be a bone-dry Provençal rosé from New York. Allowing the dark grape skins to remain on the grapes during crushing is what gives a rose its color, not left in the mixture during fermentation as they are with red-wines. Pam has experienced devastating losses; the deaths of those closest to her, betrayal, illness. With each experience, wisdom has increased along with strength and she is truly becoming a woman of substance.
Describe your book in one meal: In The Greektown Stories, it would be a simple repast of Greek salad with feta cheese, Kalamata olives, Michigan tomatoes, cucumber, anchovies and sliced hard boiled eggs, accented with a olive oil, lemon, oregano and garlic dressing. A crusty loaf of freshly baked Greek bread on the side would invite soaking up the yummy goodness. For dessert, crisp, lightly sweet sesame seed cookies.
What candy would your book be? Again, in The Greektown Stories, the candy would be a selection of Halvah. A short excerpt from The Princess of Greektown describes it best. “….sweets filled shelves; cookies in colorful tins lined up with those baked in the store. The Zannos family specialty was a confection the English called Greek Wedding Cookies but in Greek, kourabiedes. Jill’s aunts and great aunts came from across the state of Michigan and over the bridge from Ontario to assist in Christmas-cookie baking and kourabiedes were most important. Jill’s job was picking the broken nut pieces out of a bag of walnuts her father had smashed with a hammer. Each batch of cookies required an entire cup of roasted, chopped and ground walnuts. After baking, the cookies were sprinkled with orange scented water and rolled in powdered sugar.
Several different kinds of halvah lined the counter. Some types of halvah were displayed in a glass case; traditional firm, chewy halvah made of ground sesame seeds and honey, dotted with whole almonds or frosted with chocolate tempted the most disciplined. A pudding-like dessert made with semolina stayed in the glass-front cooler. Jill’s favorite, halvah from the Farsalon region of Greece, was more like caramel custard, with a jelly like consistency. Her grandmother prepared it often, using it as a ploy to get her fussy granddaughter to eat.
The pastry shop across the street provided ready-made Greek baklava for the family’s gatherings. However, if her yia yia, (grandmother in Greek) Eleni wanted to prepare something special, she made her own, stretching huge sheets of paper-thin filo dough across the marble counters. Jill would carefully brush melted butter over the entire sheet under the watchful eye of Eleni. She directed Jill to brush more butter as she placed another thin layer of dough. It resulted in an inch high pile of buttered filo, fifteen sheets or more. Eleni would spread finely ground walnuts over the pile, and on top of that, four more sheets of buttered pastry dough. She repeated the layering process until she was satisfied with the height. She made syrup of sugar, water, vanilla, honey, cinnamon and cloves, and poured it over the baked baklava. Eleni also made a traditional pastry in which she would fill rolled tubes made of baked filo with semolina-based custard, and then cover the entire tray with a sprinkle of the syrup. After Eleni died, Jill never had the confection again.
The modern Greektown was less a necessity for the Greeks who remained in Detroit and more a tourist destination. For Jill and her father Gus, it was a just a place where they lived.”
What does your book smell like? In the Pam of Babylon Series, it would be the ocean. An excerpt of the soon to be released Soulmates describes it best. “As Pam walked north, she concentrated on the specific details of the beach. The sound of the waves crashing on the sand, the fine line of brown foam left behind when the wave retreated, the tiny sea creatures burrowing into the wet compacted sand at the water’s edge. The smells of sea weed and beach roses, of salt-water and open spaces. The wind blowing sand against her face, the sun overhead, blue sky, ships out to sea.”
Your book’s snack would be: In the Pam of Babylon Series it would be pizza from Shore Pizza. In the Greektown Stories, baklava.
Describe your most memorable meal: That is so easy; definitely from my childhood, a catered meal from a combination of my parent’s most favorite restaurants. We’d have an awesome lamb and rice pilaf from Christoff’s, unbelievable spaghetti from Angelo’s Pizzeria. It had everything but the kitchen sink in it, olives, chicken, homemade marinara sauce. And of course, from Greektown, fresh bread, baklava, cheeses, taramasalta, (a Greek style caviar) and giant hunks of halavah. But what made it memorable was the company. My dad hovering around the table, making sure everyone tried a little of everything, while my mom sat at the player piano, trying out the newest piano roll. Relatives, friends and neighbors seemed to know when we were eating, and they would show up in droves. Thankfully, there was always plenty of food for everyone.
One food word to describe your writing style: Contrast. I’m compelled to switch back and forth between action and characters. Readers either love it or find it too confusing.
What will someone find you eating/drinking when you’re really into a good book? In my youth when I could snack, I loved eating nuts while I read. An old friend called me one evening, laughing because while reading a hardcover book she’d borrowed from me, skins of pistachio nuts were in between the pages. Now approaching old age, a can no longer mindlessly snack because I have no metabolism and boy, do I miss it!
Sweet or Salty? Both!
I hope you are enjoying this blog hop, which will continue next week with fabulous author Joan Donaldson. Joan Donaldson and I met at a book signing in Saugatuck several years ago and since then, knowing her has made me want to be a better writer. Joan is the author of Wedded to the Land: Stories From a Simple Life on an Organic Fruit Farm, On Viney’s Mountain, The Secret of the Red Shoes and other stories. You can follow her post here.