Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes
Each month, I’ll share the magic of a good Foodie Lit read and one of its recipes.
Cooking and recipes in novels or memoirs take us into the mind of the character or narrator and brings us into the book’s kitchen to see, smell and share the lives within.
Here’s to cooking and reading t
Lauren Rico Steffann
Challah French Toast Casserole
“To do real damage, you have to know where they [the victims] are and how to push them to achieve maximum destruction.”
And Jeremy, the psychopathic character author Lauren Rico creates, aims exactly for that in her novel, Reverie, the first in The Rhapsody Trio.
Ready for a creepy romance for Halloween? Try Reverie by Lauren Rico. Set in a music conservatory in New York City (warming my heart as that is one city where my husband studied violin for many years), we see competition, hard work, romance—and ok, it’s Halloween—a creepy boyfriend, sabotage and murder.
Jeremy, a talented horn player and manipulative psychopath, is put into an international competition.Author Lauren Rico told me about how she developed this character. “So, my thought process was, if you were to put someone with Jeremy’s psychological profile into that kind of pressure-cooker environment, how far might he go to get what he wants?”
Julia and Matthew grew up together in foster care. Whereas Matthew came from a loving family killed in a car accident, Julia’s mother left her with an abusive father. “That’s when he [Jeremy] started to study her very carefully, to find out what made her tick….Abandonment issues, desperate for love, abused as a child… Jeremy couldn’t have found an easier target.”
The reader wants to wake Julia up as she sinks into the dysfunctional and dangerous relationship with Jeremy. Lauren writes from both the alternating perspectives of Julia and Jeremy, so that we know what is going on in the totally empathy-less mind of Jeremy and the unsuspecting mind of Julia. But fear and pain were her childhood normal and so the danger somehow is able to slip into her life.
“Where that becomes really dangerous–and rare– is if that individual knows how to wield that information as a weapon. It’s not enough to know which buttons someone has. To do real damage, you have to know where they are and how to push them to achieve maximum destruction.”
Interspersed with this disturbing relationship, we learn a great deal about music. It is clear that Lauren loves music, and if you go to her web site, you see her musical background helps her write with knowledge about her setting and characters.
Psychopaths “have to learn to study and imitate the appropriate responses from the people around them because they don’t know what certain emotions look like or what’s considered socially acceptable in specific situations. It’s not hard to see how someone who is wired like that would have no qualms doing, saying or being anything to get what he or she wants.”
Julia has more resilience than Jeremy gives her credit for and with the help of Matthew—well, you’ll have to read this to get to the ending. The drama continues in Rhapsody in which Brett, Jeremy’s brother, and his girl friend and social worker, Maggie become the narrative voices observing and analyzing Jeremy. The third novel, Requiem, is not yet published but promises to be as unsettling as the first two novels.
Lauren shared with me one of Julia’s favorite meals. “I gave my main character my love of breakfast foods, especially French Toast. Mmmmmmmm.” Go to Chef Lisa’s fabulous French Toast Casserole.
Challah French Toast Casserole
1 loaf challah
1 stick butter, unsalted, softened
½ tablespoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
¾ cup sugar
3 ½ cups half and half
1 tablespoon vanilla
¼ cup orange marmalade
- Cream the softened butter with the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- Slice the challah into 1-inch slices, so it yields about 8 slices. Spread the butter over one side of each slice.
- Shingle the slices in a 9×13 dish
- Whisk the yolks and eggs together with the sugar and set aside
- Heat the half and half and the vanilla in a pot until hot but not boiling. Slowly ladle the hot cream into the eggs. Whisk in between each pouring so the eggs do not scramble.
- Pour custard over the bread and soak for 10 minutes.
- Bake covered for 45 minutes at 350. Spread the marmalade over the top of the French toast when it comes out of the oven and dust with powdered sugar.
Susan is the indieBRAG Food Blogger – follow her indieBRAG Food Blog
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