Sunday, January 3, 2010

Luck is finding at least one friend who can cook

Good luck is getting to eat what they cook.

Our critique group hostess, Pam, tasked our members to dig deep into our artistic talent and create a food that represented our novels for an end of the year potluck. I knew it would be a good event, tasty even. I also knew I'd bring something that wouldn't be tasty, whether I baked it or not.

The night of the event, Ginger flounced a plate of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—the lunch served at summer camp—on the buffet table and launched into a story of how she had to convince her two-year old they were not meant for her. Two-year olds are not easy to dissuade when they are intent on a goal. I can say in complete admiration, Ginger succeeded in keeping teeth marks out of most of the sandwich squares.

Peggy entered with a shy giggle and waited for us to notice her blond locks had been sheared into a cute bob. Peggy's holiday dishes magically appeared out of her Nordic themed, fantasy YA novel. I checked carefully to see what delicious magic might be lurking inside her serving dish and was not disappointed—Swedish meatballs with a jar of pickled herring thrown in on the side.

Melanie proclaimed she'd brought the essence of good taste: rat turds (formally known as rum balls that require a breathalyzer before carting yourself home). She'd shipped them directly from the brigantine that sails the Atlantic Ocean in her adventure novel. I will include a picture, but you must sign an affidavit that any damage this does to your chocolate-loving-psyche will not be blamed on Pearl of Carol.

3..2..1.. Quick peek. You okay?

Sharon, our newest member, was a bit overwhelmed, she had not met a couple of our members who have been on hiatus due to family responsibilities. She nobly placed her black-eyed pea corn bread at the end of the table with a large serving spoon, which was an excellent idea (the big spoon), because the dish was GOOD. Her cornbread was a staple during the Civil War which her female protagonist is currently fighting.

Of course, I went back for seconds of everything, and if I'd thought ahead I would have brought take-out containers, especially for Pam's stew. Pam delved into Lillian Parsley's cookbooks, one of her characters who operates a restaurant in a fictional town along the Columbia River.

Pam is an unbelievably generous friend who actually hosts our group in her home every week. Anyone who has tried to organize a diverse group of women will know that consistency is the key to success, i.e., meet consistently at the same time and the same place. If we have to stop and think, where are we this week, the plan will fail.

Pam is the only member able to keep her house clean each week. We like to think that is because she is RETIRED, but she may possess other organizational skills that I don't. (I swear, as soon as I finish writing this manuscript I'll clean again. Really. Well, I want to believe that will be occur, so let's pretend).

Pam's generosity knows no bounds. She has offered to leave her door unlocked for us when she goes out of town, which we appropriately decline. Her neighbors keep a close eye on the condo grounds (which means they report on me if I drive through too fast), and they would surely chase us all us out should we appear while Pam is away. In fact, one would delight in calling the police in revenge for a broken Japanese maple branch that we were blamed for, but honestly, heavy rain, wind, snow are way more powerful than women who write. Okay, that's debatable, but we didn't do it.

At the party, while everyone was busy chatting, I slunk over to the stove and peeked in Pam's pot. I was comforted by fragrant aroma of Stred Soup, a stew of beets and sausage.

Precisely because I don't cook I was required to purchase my dish. I wasn't sure if one offering would be enough for the potluck so I did bring something completely edible, cheese and crackers arranged just the way my character does in The Inbetween Pearl, "triangle ends pointed to the edge of the plate."

The other dish I brought was the event of the evening. You don't find this food everywhere, or anywhere for that matter. You have to know someone Korean to procure it (both of my novels follow a University of Washington sophomore who marries a Korean-born California real estate developer). Second, you have to insure the product will be available. I visited Oriental Fast Bowl on Monday to confirm my order for the Thursday event.

The nice Korean proprietor smiled and nodded her head when I posed the question, "Will it be available?" Someday, when I am brave, I will tell her she is the person I describe when I created my protaganist's mother-in-law, but it will have to be when her English speaking son is helping in the restaurant so he can translate, and it will have to sound like a compliment, because in A Single Pearl, it is not a compliment.

The proprietor and I agreed on a pick-up time, and I didn't worry the rest of the week about the dish...just the reaction to the dish.

Although it was in protective plastic container I smelled it during the entire drive to Pam's house. Garlic. Fire Colored. Pickled Vegetables. I wanted to have enough for everyone, and although I'd asked for a large portion, Mrs. Korean-Restaurant-Owner shook her head no and refused to sell me anything except the smallest portion, asking, "You like?"

I assured her that I did, "Every once in awhile." She raised an eyebrow in disbelief but took my money.

Kimchi. It's not bad. It's different.

Leave a comment if you would like me to post recipes!



Melanie Sherman said...

Hey, I brought Hot Buttered Rum too! At least it didn't look like rat turds.

We are lucky to have such diverse novels, because it afforded the opportunity for such variety for our party. Next time, I'm going to figure out a way to bring the cheese, though.

(I took some of the cornbread dish home. Don't tell Sharon.)

The First Carol said...

Oh my gosh! I can't believe I neglected to mention the rum, I even imbibed in my usual thimblefull.

Yes, we are unbelievable lucky, not only for the diversity of our manuscripts which always leads to a lively evening, but also how our love of the writing craft has created a wonderful friendship circle. Lucky, indeed.

Jars of Giggles said...

Everything was delish I must admit!

First_Local said...

Bring on the recipes! Let's cook :-)

PLA Anderson said...

So much fun! And yummy!

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