Have you ever noticed how novels in the Fantasy genre normally have a wealth of food in them? I have, and I’m not the only one who has. A quick Google search gave me the following:
I gleaned all four of the above from the first page of my Google search results. Interesting. I read about spiced cakes, cucumber sandwiches, specially prepared eels, dried meats, fancy candied and preserved fruits… all your typical Fantasy novel feasts and… Wait. No.
Okay, there are a few cool Fantasy-novel-based recipes out there. Harry Potter’s butterbeer comes immediately to mind, but most Fantasy genre foods… seriously, who eats that stuff? And at the gut-busting volume Fantasy characters seem to? I guess if you’re rich or attending a fancy medieval court-style dinner… perhaps.
None of that appears in Cleaning House.
Not. One. Bit.
Cleaning House falls into the Contemporary Fantasy genre so the food isn’t just contemporary, it’s familiar, especially if you’re from the Southern United States. It’s poor people food. It’s often homegrown, home-canned, homemade.
And there’s junk food in there too.
But it’s more…
It’s soup beans and cornbread.
It’s home-grown vegetables, potted meat and mustard sandwiches, roast chicken with wild mushrooms and garden-fresh herbs, potato chips, PB&J, McDonald’s, and, oh yeah, it’s Cheddar Rounds and Big Pals from Pal’s Sudden Service.
It’s Aunt Tess’ Crock Pot chicken and dumplings while you watch the Wee Fairies fly around the trailer’s kitchen.
And it’s Aubrey’s family recipes too. His grandmother was Filipino, so he’ll cook you bibingka or sinangag with an over-easy egg over the top.
Here’s the thing about food. It’s a social activity, or at least it should be. Mealtime is for family, for laughter, and for sharing.
Oh, it’s sweet iced tea too.
And coffee. Lots of coffee.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, My Hunter Fae gorge every night in their Great Hall, but it’s southern style. Deer steaks, soup beans, greens, fried potatoes, and biscuits (or something very similar). There’s not a delicate cucumber sandwich to be had. But Hunters only eat once a day, generally speaking, and they load up on coffee and Pal’s sweet tea during business hours and moonshine and beer at night.
Yeah, my fae are horribly-behaved, often queer, liberal rednecks and no, those last two terms (liberal rednecks) do not create an oxymoron. The Hunters are central to Keeping House, the second novel in the Appalachian Elementals series, so expect to delve into their mixed up, anachronism-filled, backassward world very soon.
More on them in later posts.
This post didn’t start out as a Fantasy genre food journey, rather, it began with Aunt Tess from Cleaning House whispering in my ear that she wanted to share her recipe for Crock Pot chicken and dumplings. It obviously went awry so let’s get back on track.
Here’s Aunt Tess’ recipe. It’s amazingly similar to my own, but I don’t add peas and carrots. I do, however, sometimes add mushrooms. Yum.
Enjoy. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
All images in this post, aside from the recipe, come from either Unsplash or Pixabay as Free for Commercial Use.