Cooking the Books

Cooking the Books with C.L. Polk

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


Today’s guest is C.L. Polk, talking to Aliette and Fran over at the main kitchen, about Witchmark her fantastic debut novel from


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?

C.L. Polk: There’s a certain dinner party in the middle of A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold. It is a complete disaster. Miles wanted the dinner party as a chance to woo a shy, skittish widow named Ekaterin, but because her previous marriage was awful, she doesn’t want to be married again. If you know Miles Vorkosigan, you know that his great gift is to set up elaborate plans and strategies to solve problems or complete missions, and then when everything goes horribly wrong, we find that Miles’ real gift is for rolling with the punches and improvising.

So too with the dinner party. The seating gets tampered with. The menu’s not quite what he’d asked for, what with the bug butter and all. And then there’s the butter bugs themselves, with the Vorkosigan sigil marked on their elytra–genetically bred to bear those markings across generations. But if that wasn’t bad enough, a guest (the same one responsible for the butter bugs) makes an indelicate remark that deeply embarrasses Miles’ brother Mark and Kareen…in front of Kareen’s family. But if that wasn’t bad enough, an adorable kitten successfully hunts down a butter bug, which has escaped from an improperly secured lab, and parades it through the dining hall.

And with that raft of disasters only halfway battened down, a guest attempts to make conversation by revealing Miles’ plan to court Ekaterin before Miles is ready to reveal it. When the whole table cringes, Miles tries to make the best of it, and proposes on the spot.

On the bright side, the bug-butter ice cream was delicious.

The Book Smugglers: Let’s play Marry/Kiss/Kill, but with food.

C.L. Polk:

Marry: cheesburger deluxe. my favorite food.
Kiss: sushi. I’m fond of sushi. I’ll eat a hill of it, especially with friends.
Kill: beef liver. no. just no.


And here is the audio snippet:

Go over to the main kitchen to check out the full episode and to listen to the whole interview!

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