Cooking the Books

Cooking the Books with Ruthanna Emrys

Happy Wednesday and welcome to a brand new monthly feature in partnership with Fran Wilde and Aliette de Bodard’s Cooking the Books Podcast!


Today’s guest is Ruthanna Emrys with whom Aliette talks about her novel Winter Tide over at the main kitchen.


Here at the extension kitchen, we have bonus Q&A content and an audio snippet!


The Book Smugglers: What’s your favorite food scene from (an SFF) movie, tv show, or book? (e.g. Imaginary Food becomes Real Food morphs into Food Fight in ’90s classic, HOOK)

Ruthanna Emrys:

Becky Chambers’s The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet undermines all the tropes about future space food. The Wayfarer has an extremely enthusiastic, extremely skilled ship’s cook with an excellent kitchen garden. When we first meet Dr. Chef, he’s grilling red coast bugs, which are kind of like lobster but apparently extremely common–except that the newcomer to the ship has never had them. Her family is Martian upper crust, and they’re so rich and decadent that they actually imported cows from earth. So right away you get food as caretaking, and food as class marker, and all the little ways that a cross-cultural family handles making sure everyone is fed and happy. It’s a microcosm of everything I love about the book, and it makes me want to eat space food, which is certainly not a reaction I’ve ever had to Star Trek’s replicator meals.

The Book Smugglers: Let’s play Marry/Kiss/Kill, but with food. (e.g. Marry: Thanksgiving Turkey/Kiss: McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets/Kill: EGGS.)

Ruthanna Emrys:

Marry: For our wedding feast, we had roast venison. This was one of our absolute requirements, and it was tricky because not many places will roast venison for a hundred people. The hotel we eventually chose, the chef talked with us and said, “I’ve never done that but it sounds like fun.” That seemed like a good omen. And indeed, the venison roast with a red wine reduction was absolutely perfect.

Kiss: Stereotypically you’re supposed to eat something minty before kissing, but I would pick truffle oil every time. It has this amazing earthy aftertaste that just gets more complex and interesting the more attention you pay it. I ate at one of my favorite ridiculous sushi places a couple of days ago. They have the most romantic single dish I’ve ever tasted: beef tartare nigiri with truffle oil mixed into both the beef and the sushi rice, and a little pile of black truffle paste on top.

Kill: Soda is among my least favorite smells, and we won’t even discuss the possibility of tasting it. I’m somewhat chemical sensitive, and every time I catch a whiff of this favorite drink of Americans everywhere, my hindbrain starts blinking giant red lights: CLEANING FLUID CLEANING FLUID BRACE FOR HEADACHE.


And here is the audio clip teaser of A Book Smugglers Question(TM): “What monster would you want to be eaten by”:


Go over to the main kitchen to check out the full episode which includes a discussion about food and memory, Lovecraft, snarky aliens and more Book Smugglers questions.

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