Food is rooted for me in my memories of my maternal grandmother. She died just a month before I turned 30 and I still miss her everyday. She's the one who made me feel beautiful and special even though I know I wasn't. She kept her hair dyed a vibrant red color and when she walked into a room everyone knew she was there. I felt so special that she loved me when everyone clearly loved her.
When I started writing my "food" books for Blaze I thought of my grandmom and my mom as I wrote. The main character Staci in SIZZLE learned to cook from her grandmother. In my head this woman was a melding of my mom who didn't think we should eat anything with artificial ingredients and my grandmother who was always entertaining and cooking for everyone. After my grandmother passed away and we went to clean out her house my mom, sisters and I gravitated to the kitchen instead of to her jewelry box. We cherished her pots, pans, and cookbooks--those were the keepers not only of her memory for us but of the dishes and the love she'd had for us.
Here's a snippet from Sizzle:
“Maybe. You seem very comfortable surrounded by luxury,” she said.
“Yes. This is probably the nicest car I’ve been in unless you count the limo I took to prom. I don’t think that’s the case with you.”
He laughed. “Who did you go to prom with?”
“A boy who thought he loved me,” she said.
“Why did the boy think he loved you?” Remy asked.
She was not about to start talking about her rocky past and the loves that might have been. “Don’t avoid the question.”
“What was the question?”
She frowned at him. “You’re difficult and cagey. What exactly are you hiding, Remy Stephens?”
“I believe that some things shouldn’t be spoken of. But you are right, I did grow up in a comfortable home financially. However, that’s not as interesting as a boy who thought he loved you. Didn’t you love him?”
“I’m not talking about that,” she said. She hadn’t allowed herself to really care about anyone when she’d been younger because she’d had big dreams of leaving California and going to Paris. She was going to be the next Julia Child.
I wanted to be Julia Child as well. I had a few things from my grandmother that increased this longing. One was her copy of Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. The other is a post card book that my great-grandmother brought with her from Marseille when she immigrated to the US in the early 1900s. I don't know if these things influenced me or not but I've always loved French cuisine and felt an affinity for France.
Do you have a tradition like that in your family? Tell me something that links you to your past--it can be something that links you to it like cooking is for me or something that motivated you away from it. I'm giving away e-copies of Sizzle today to three lucky blog participants.