Saturday, September 14, 2013

Shared History--In Fantasy and the Real World

As an author, it is so fascinating to see a developing story lead me in directions I never intended. This is especially true with fantasy. Not only do the characters tell me what they should be doing and correct me when I do something stupid, but I see an entire world develop right in front of my eyes. I see rich vistas unfold before me—landscapes and villages and races. It is such a joy to behold.

With Whispers from Forbidden Earth (soon to be released by Helping Hands Press), there are two vastly different worlds: Earth and Eversong. One is familiar to the reader, Earth, but terrifying and strange to the protagonist, the young elf Strum stranded there. The other world, Eversong, is fantastical place to the reader, with its ancient races of trolls and pixies, elves, and gnomes, its lavender trees, its dragons and magi. But it’s Strum’s world, a world he fights to return to.

The worlds are vastly different but there’s a shared history hinted at within the story, a shared history more fully revealed in the sequel. That’s exciting to me as the author and totally unexpected. It is so exciting to have the story reveal itself to me, to share stories it wants me to know.That shared history caused me to start thinking recently about my own history. 

I’m a proud 2nd generation Italian born in America, both my mother’s and father’s family coming to this country in the early 1900s. To me, it’s so important to keep the old traditions alive, to follow the old recipes that my mother uses and her mother before her.

It’s that identity, tied to the old world, that I want to keep alive here, not only for me, but for my children and the generations to come.  I love the Feast of the Seven Fishes celebrated Christmas Eve. I love Soppressata and Capicola, Prosciutto and Fontinella cheese.  Here’s a recipe for a northern Italian dish called Bagna Cauda (translated: Hot Bath). We make it on special occasions, and anyone who loves dipping Italian bread into oil and garlic, will LOVE this. I guarantee it . . . or I’ll send my cousin Guido to your house to educate you on the finer points of Italian cuisine. :-)

Bagna Cauda
Cover bottom of pan or skillet with olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
Simmer garlic in oil until brown
25 oz sardines (in olive oil)
18 oz anchovies (in olive oil)
(We follow the rough ratio of 1 oz anchovy to 2 oz sardines)
1 stick unsalted butter

I prefer using Roland's sardines and anchovies

This sauce is served in a pot for everyone to dip vegetables into. Serve it with chunks of crusty bread and your favorite  raw vegetables.

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