Gail Talks About Food: Her Perfect Meal

A little while ago, Gentle Reader, I threw the door open to the Parasol Protectorate Fan Group for questions and Amber asked me a doozy.

If you could assemble an ideal x course meal, what would you want it to be? And if you had to prepare it, would it change significantly?

So, first of all I answered part of this for Lawrence over on his:

Eating Authors series

My Best Meal Ever

The best meal I ever ate was in Monterosso al Mare, (one of the five tiny towns that make up Cinque Terre on the Italian Riveria). I was there on the four day break we got in the middle of excavation season (July 1995) with three other archaeology undergraduates.

We wandered into this little restaurant, I don’t recall the name. All I remember is we walked down, so the windows were at street level and we got a view of everyone’s shoes as we ate. We started with prosciutto e melone (which was more amazing than any before or since) and then we ate this risotto seafood dish ~ fruite de mar. It was as if they had taken a net and scraped it across the sea floor ~ crayfish, clams, mussels, oysters, white fish, salmon, and fresh veggies scattered over this amazing rice. The seafood was cooked perfectly, fresh and glistening. The onion and tomato rice was gooey in the center and backed crisp and crunchy on the top. We had a bottle of cheap Chianti to go with… magic.

My Comfort Meal

My all time favorite comfort meal is the peppered alpaca stake at Cafe Manu in Cuzco, Peru. Alpaca is like the Kobe beef of the pork world. It is amazing when cooked correctly. This is a non-traditional preparation, served wrapped in bacon with a French peppered cream sauce and a simple baked potato. I ate it with a pint of maracuja juice (passion fruit) and life was good. Anytime I excavated near Cuzco I always tried to visit to eat this dish.

This would be what I asked for as my last meal.

My Desert

Layered Raspberry Pavlova at the Lord Nelson in Topsham, Devon. Meringue cooked the British way, crisp on the outside and gooey in the middle, with fresh raspberries and clotted cream sandwiched in between the meringue layers and a raspberry sauce reduction drizzled about. With a nice pot of tea? Heaven. Pure heaven.

My 4 Courses

  1. The prosciutto e melone from Tuscany with a glass of prosecco.
  2. Appetizer portions of the rice and seafood from Monterosso with cold fresh water.
  3. Alpaca pepper steak, wilted chard, and papa rellena with passion fruit juice.
  4. Raspberry pavlova to finish with a perfect pot of tea.

As I told Lawrence, there are some who speculate I chose a career as an archaeologist so I could eat my way around exotic locations. Now I often decide whether I should visit a city for a book event based on the local food scene.

Would this meal change if I had to cook it myself?

Absolutely. I can’t get many of the ingredients and I accept no substitutes. Generally speaking I already cook for myself the things I want to eat and have the time to make (excepting deserts) so yeah…

I’d rather eat out, tho.

I love eating out.

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for July is The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.}

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Posted by Gail Carriger

2 Responses

  1. MadameDoVary said:

    You share this trait with JK Rowling: your writing makes me hungry. Have you ever come to Lyon in France? The View when you are at the Roman theater near the basilica at sunset when the streetlights starts popping against the almost night ( “between dog and wolf” as we say) is just the perfect spice to the most simple meal. I always feel that the taste of the food depends on the mood and Lyon really has the perfect mood going on for me. Very good food, never overly formal, sunny, friendly and beautifull with this little Italian renaissance warmth…

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