Today I am so pleased to welcome Laylah Hunter to Joyfully Jay. Laylah has come to talk to us about her latest release, Gabriel’s City. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Laylah a big welcome!
A Warm Meal
I love attention to food in sci fi and fantasy—it does so much for my sense of immersion, for my ability to imagine the sensual pleasures of the world. It also helps with worldbuilding, to give a sense of the economics and climate: what thrives locally? Who can afford imported luxuries, and what are they? (I’m not even a GRRM fan, and I have a copy of A Feast of Ice and Fire anyway.) So with that in mind, here are a few of the meals in Gabriel’s City.
The fish stew that Colin gets in a dockside tavern early in the book is inspired by Portuguese caldeirada de peixe: simple to prepare, flavorful, and making the most of the protein source that’s easiest to come by in a port city. The tavern would make it in big batches with whatever catch was in season, and serve it up in bowls to the sailors who stay there.
Caldeirada a la Casmile
1 lb each of three different fish, as fresh as possible; pick differing textures/flavors
1.5-2 lb ripe tomatoes (or 2 14-oz cans if it’s off-season and you can’t get good ones)
2 each of bell peppers, yellow onions, and firm potatoes (not baking potatoes)
4-6 cloves garlic
Spices for the pot: this version had salt, pepper, rosemary, marjoram, and a pinch of turmeric to imitate the saffron used in fancier places, but choose what pleases you
1 cup white wine or stock
Chop the fish and vegetables into easily spooned-up chunks. Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot over a medium flame, drizzling in enough oil that it won’t be sticky. Add the rosemary (or other woody herb) and let it infuse the oil for a few minutes. Take the pot from the flame and add the ingredients in layers, sprinkling spices and chopped garlic over each layer before adding the next: start with the densest, oiliest of the fishes, then half the vegetables, then the next-firmest fish, then the remaining vegetables, then the lightest fish. Drizzle on a bit more oil, pour the wine over the top, and return the pot to the flame. Cover it and let it come to a boil. Once it boils, move it to a lower flame to simmer gently for half to three-quarters of an hour. Shake the pot occasionally to discourage sticking, but don’t stir. Once it’s stewed long enough and you’ve sailors in the front room as need feeding, ladle it up into bowls, being sure to provide some of each layer, and serve with a good crusty bread to sop the juices. Serves roughly eight townies or six just-landed sailors.
A few months later, Colin will be sharing a solstice meal with Gabriel and with Deirdre, the woman who’s looked after Gabriel since he was small. The meal she makes for them is a tradition she remembers learning from her mother, as a child in a tiny northern village, and she remembers it somewhat like this:
On the last of the year, which is the day that ends in the Longest Night, go out in the morning and kill the oldest rooster in the flock. Pluck him, clean him, and bring him in for the pot. Cut him in quarters so he’ll cook more easily, and turn the parts skin-side up as you lay them down. Add a bay leaf or three and a bit of salt, then water enough to cover him halfway. Splash in a bit of mead if there’s any left in the house—some of the summer we’re hoping to see again someday soon, mm? Set the pot over a low fire and let him cook down a good long while, to soften up such a tough old bird. When he’s cooked well through and the bones separate easily, chop some shallots and add those, then two handfuls of barley and enough water to cook it through. Keep it over the fire until the barley’s soft, then serve it ’round the vigil fire so all the family can take his strength into the new year.
A few weeks after that, they’re sharing pigeons that Gabriel prepares. But I’ll let him give you that recipe in the book.
For spoiled young aristocrat Colin Harwood, the port city of Casmile is a buffet of easy pleasures. But when he steps into a pub brawl to help a dangerously outnumbered young man, he is drawn into the seedy underbelly of the city the young man calls home.
Gabriel is a cutpurse and a knife for hire, practically an urban legend. His vision of Casmile is touched by a strange combination of faith and madness, driven by fairytale logic and a capacity for love that he often must suppress to survive. He’s always worked alone, but when a dashing dragon who calls himself Colin saves him in a bar fight, he pulls Colin into his world.
Gabriel’s city is nothing like the refined, socialite existence that bored Colin senseless. Colin finds adventure and excitement there—and maybe even love. But with his layers of finery stripped away, nothing remains to protect him from poverty or danger—except Gabriel. So he must choose: go back to the civilized young man he once was, or fly free as Gabriel’s dragon.
Laylah Hunter is a third-gendered butch queer who writes true stories about imaginary people in worlds that never were. Most of hir work deals with queer characters, erotic themes, and the search for happy endings in unfavorable circumstances.
Hir mild-mannered alter ego lives in Seattle, at the mercy of the requisite cats and cultivating the requisite caffeine habit, and dreams of a day when telling stories will pay all the bills.
Connect with Laylah:
- Website: laylahhunter.com
- Twitter: @LaylahHunter
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/Laylah_Hunter
I have the good fortune to be friends with the charming people who run ZOMG Smells (http://www.zomgsmellsshop.com/), who make, as their tagline says, “Fine nerdy scents for fine nerdy people.” They have created a set of perfume oil blends inspired by the characters of Gabriel’s City, and I’d like to give some away at the end of this tour! You’ll get seven 5-ml bottles, one of each of these scents (http://www.zomgsmellsshop.com/gabriels-city-book-smells/), including a nice spectrum of masculine through feminine notes. Leave a comment that includes your email address to enter! The giveaway ends Sunday, November 23rd.
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