Today my guest is Wild Rose Press author Jennifer Johnson telling us how food and food memories help bring a story to life.
Eating at Granny's House
My granny used to make these fried pies with a chocolate filling. There was nothing better than one of those pies fresh out of her iron skillet. My cousins and I would wrap napkins around them because they were too hot for our little fingers.
We’d nibble on the
edge of the crust trying not to burn our lips in the process.
Another specialty of hers was “Cat Head” biscuits. They weren’t made from cat parts. I think the name comes from the size of the biscuit. Sometimes we ate the biscuits with red eyed gravy, a disturbing name for gravy. I never asked why it was called this. Perhaps because I was afraid of the answer. But, oh, boy, were those cat head biscuits good for sopping up the gravy. When I think of all of these bad-for-you delectable foods, it’s no wonder so many members of my family have heart disease.
If you can’t fry it, it ain’t worth eating. My favorite vegetable? Okra, of course. Chop it, bread it, and fry it. I could make a meal out of it. Now, some people like it boiled. Not me. When you boil okra, it’s disgustingly slimy in a snot sort of way. So, I eat mine fried or not at all.
Granny was also very gifted in frying chicken. I’m a big fan of fried chicken. I’m pretty sure this is because of an incident between me and a young rooster when I was about five. Apparently, I got too close to him and his feathered friends. When he started chasing me, I couldn’t outrun him, and he spurred me from the back of my neck down to my heels as I screamed and cried my way down the dirt road to Granny’s house. My mom claims no one could say the word “rooster” around me for weeks without me bursting into tears, but fried chicken never tasted so good. I guess in my young brain, every time I ate fried chicken, I was enacting revenge on that mean rooster.
For many of us food is more than just food. A taste of home-fried chicken can propel me back to Billingsley, Alabama and my girlhood. In books as well I have found a great medium of creating atmosphere with food. In The Jinx, Ellen makes a chicken casserole for Rick, her love interest. Why chicken casserole? Well, it travels well, and it is a very domestic-type of dish. Though Ellen doesn’t realize it, she’s letting Rick know she’s ready to set up house with him!
So, do you have a certain dish that is more than just food to you?
Jennifer Johnson’s book The Jinx is available now from The Wild Rose Press. Her second book, The Clergy Affair, will be available in July of this year. Come visit her website at http://booksbyjenniferjohnson.com or her blog at http://jennfrancesca.blogspot.com/