NVDT #60 – Fruits, Pumpkins, and Story Food

PART OF OPEN LINK BLOG HOP

Prompt – What is your favorite fruit dish? Can you share a recipe for it? Do you include food in your stories? While we’re talking about food, pumpkin, yea or nay?

My favorite fruit dish is pictured above. Not just apples, but lots of different fruits. In that format. You see fruits and I are at an impasse. I don’t like to peel and slice and do all that. Like I lived in Hawaii one summer and man, I loved the fruit bowls. That someone else prepped. And the easy ones, like strawberries, I enjoyed those as a kid, but now they gross me out. Same with all the little blue ones. Used to pick those with my grandmother and turn my face purple. No more. Thesis – My idea of good fruit is the juicy, chunky stuff that someone else has to prep.

Pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice cake, whipped cream, and buttercream icing? Hell yeah.

Do I use food in my stories? Yes. Sorta. Only as scene vehicles to get dialog driving. No recipes or shopping trips with the recipe list. Hey, wouldn’t be me without a coupla half chapters!

Two examples –

Bobby B II

The two-story overhead door to the backlot at Monterrey Mick’s Mad Mods was open most of the way. Warm, haze filtered Mid-Afternoon Saturday in L.A. sunshine flooded the area on both sides of the French drain that ran the width of the door. Bobby faced the sun on one side of the drain, Bernie on the other, each perched on one of the red and white Coleman coolers the jumbo shrimp had shipped in. They had a lazy rhythm working as they pulled shrimp out of a pile of ice on an aluminum cart for a slice and devein before they rinsed them under a propped-up garden hose and tossed them into a big pot of ice water. The sixteen-gallon shrimp-boil pot Bobby had rented, full of Bernie’s Trinity and spice, pearl onions, and baby Yukon Gold potatoes simmered on a propane burner in the corner like a giant diffuser full of an aroma called “home.”

“This shrimp’s not too nasty for the Gulf, Boudreaux.” Bernie squinted, held one up and tossed it into the bucket of ice water, reached for another.

“Farm-raised tigers. They shoulda been deveined before they left.”

“Farm-raised explains the short on nasty. Deveined would drive the price way up. Think about paying you and me right now in Hollywood dollars for all the Sunday afternoons we did this for free when we were coming up.” She held up a hand sealed in a stainless-steel mesh glove. “You order the gloves with the shrimp?”

“Asked Senior to pick these up when he bought the knives.” He held up his own gloved hand, wiggled his fingers. “I knew he’d send the sharpest ones he could find. Told him I’d like to keep my thumb.”

She shook her hair out of her face, not looking at him in the midst of a shrimp toss. Whatever was gnawing at her, the smell of home, the Trinity she put together from memory in her sink, the easy talk, the familiarity of place, the laughter over roach coach breakfasts on the set with this kid… She couldn’t put her finger on it, but it forced out “Mick’s looking for a way into your money, Boudreaux.”

“So are you. You workin’ with him, or free lancin’?”

She kept up her end of the one for me, one for you deveining, let three cycles go by. “I’m waiting to see where the eye tracks. How’d you know?”

“I didn’t come out here to learn about cars, I came to learn about people. I figured the place that would take me didn’t see me at all, they saw easy money.” He tossed a shrimp, looked over at her. “I asked a man who does background checks for a boat company I started to run everybody connected to this place. ‘Cause I wanted to see whatever the game was. He said if I saw it once when I could see it coming, I’d understand the scam mechanics and get past feeling like a dumb redneck kid all the time.”

She waited for two more shrimp cycles, built up a little steam. “This man of yours decided, out of all the dime bags of fuck-everybody-and-everything money-grubbing narcissistic Hollywood assholes in this place that I was the one?”

“No.” He wasn’t sure he could tell her yet that she was the only star in the sky at Mick’s Mad Mods. Or that he knew she’d spent every dime she made as a suntan oil and bikini model on UCLA and a diction coach to get her voice out of the bayou. “He said you had a degree in entertainment marketing, had told these people you were ready to rob a liquor store to get some investment money together for anything to get you out of TNA work, and they pulled you in.”

 ***

The Great Kerrigan Bank Robbery

“I don’t like helicopters.”

She hooked my arm with hers. Hooked. A perfect word.

“Why?” She would always look better in one of my shirts, crazy morning hair, inquisitive eyes and all than I ever would.

“I was flying before I could drive. I’m probably alive today because of my deep and abiding distrust of helicopters. Besides, in the Cub,” I flipped a custom three pepper omelet the size of the twelve-inch skillet, “with good weather I can be airborne in 75 feet, maybe less, so…”

“Who needs one, right?” She furrowed her eyebrows. “You do know the only reason it flipped with such ease is the pound of butter.”

“It’s a skill.”

“Don’t kid yourself. It’s the butter.” She released my arm, ran a pizza wheel through the omelet, held back half while I tilted the pan, let half slide off onto her plate. I moved the skillet and let the other half drop the same way on mine.

“Butter is something I learned from my mother. I hear olive oil is healthier, but I save that for vegetables.”

Tu Madre, eh? Did she die of a coronary?”

“Not yet.”

“Decent genes and you know about vegetables.” She dropped a sausage link on her plate, licked her fingertips. “And you can almost cook.” The cocked eyebrows and smile were for effect before she stepped outside in the morning shade of hundred-year-old cottonwoods and pecan trees that surrounded my patch of planet Earth. “How can it be that a morning so perfectamente maravillosa prefaces the heat of hell?”

Like most people who comment on predictable weather, Cav didn’t expect an answer. She stood barefoot on the pea gravel, her left hip kicked out slightly to the side, forked a small mouthful of omelet and surveyed my landscaping.

“This,” she rubbed her foot on the smooth pea gravel, delivered “It is native to the area?” with a straight face.

“I liberated it from an unsupervised highway department materials yard.”

“The work was difficult?”

“No ill effects.”

Espléndida.” She pointed her fork at the water. “Your lake is lovely.”

“It’s not much, but it’s mine.” I say mine. It wasn’t very big, but stock ponds are lakes in parts of Texas. And I was the only full-time squatter on this one. My nearest neighbor was an ancient black man who grumbled but never spoke, lived off-site and drove up with his dog in about fifteen minutes when someone called from the phone hanging off the back of the gas pump at the marina. Which had happened three times in seven months. I think having a marina or an improved boat ramp makes it officially a lake, even though the marina was a pier, a shack, and a gas pump, and the back-your-boat-in ramp was a pair of muddy ruts next to the ‘marina.’ I stepped out of the ancient Airstream to join her.

“That’s the one?” She nodded at the Cub Craft sitting half-in and half-out of the water, tied off to an old parking lot concrete bar. “She flies in 75 feet?”

“Good weather, medium load, and the floats off.”

“I want to see.”

“Now?”

Pendejo. I’m eating. Hey. You didn’t tell me you had Tabasco.” She tapped my nose with her fork, waited for me to return with the familiar red bottle. “Do you know of Kerrigan, Paro? It’s a town the size of a fly-speck in this Texas of yours.”

PART OF OPEN LINK BLOG HOP

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Published by

Phil Huston

https://philh52.wordpress.com/

26 thoughts on “NVDT #60 – Fruits, Pumpkins, and Story Food”

    1. I feel guilty about a split second until I recall that I’m the only one who seems to know how the air fryer, pressure steamer and grill work. So the fruit and veggie choppers get little sympathy.

      Like

  1. 1. I like people making me fruit salad too because I am too lazy to do it myself. (Actually, I expect all food to be prepared for me.)
    2. What do you do with these chapters or stories you write? Do you publish them somewhere?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t had Waldorf salad since my mom died in like ‘89. So I make do with whatever they have in the buckets at the grocery store.
      I have probably 7 books waiting for a final edit (I’m retentive about slop) and a book of short stories I could arrange and publish tomorrow. Wanna a beta read?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. To me helpful is more along the line of “there’s a hole between x and y. How did we get to here from there?” Or “this makes zero sense. What the hell are they talking about.” My genre is more of the caper or life outtake variety. Not procedurals or witches or dystopias or time warps. There’s more than enough sword fighting handsome underwear models with wings and a few scaly parts out there.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Food is like revenge, it tastes better if you can get someone else to do the cooking. I got V1.0 of the prompt, which never mentioned the use of food in my writing. Andorra Pett can do toast; as long as she has a recipe and a video to guide her.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Always. My education hungry angry young women’s rights advocate would starve without Jackson. Like the old musician joke, he says Whattaya call a feminist without a boyfriend? Hungry and homeless.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The only thing lazier than the way you eat fruit is *my* way: abstinence.
    But I have to say, thinking about a crab boil sure made me hungry for something savory and sloppy! I lived on the gulf only for a short time, but the tastebud memories of that time are strong!
    Now, about those eggs. Reading about those made me jealous for one reason: flipping a 12” omelette is impressive. I’ve only worked my way up to about 8.5” of a 10” omelette. And I’m out of practice on that…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. More butter! Or you can cheat and dump a 1/4 cup of oil in the pan before you start, like the “chefs” at restaurant brunches. I try to flip stuff it ends up somewhere not the pan. Thank God for fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

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