From time to time, I receive this question about Josie Tucker, so I thought I’d address it. Enjoy.
Note: shameless self-promotion alert. This post is part of a massive lead-up to the release of book #3. I’m whetting your appetite for the snarky food critic and her shenanigans.
If you want cookies, make them yourself
I’m a self-taught cook. I started baking when I was nine because I wanted cookies, and my mom wasn’t a cookie-baking kind of mom. (She’s more of a double-olive martini kind of mom, but that’s another post.)
Baking is just basic chemistry. If you can read and follow a recipe, you can bake. Assemble the ingredients in the correct amounts, in the right order, and add time and heat. Of course, baking is also crafting—creating something attractive and functional—which appealed to my little origami-loving fingertips at the time.
Later, I moved to starches, like potatoes and pasta—you really can’t screw up a pasta salad. Then, fried rice. (I’m Chinese.) From there, I went to casseroles because most of my parents’ cookbooks were from the 60s and 70s, when pimentos were pervasive…hard to know when you’ve failed, actually.
Veggies were next. I mastered artichokes by high school, though I hadn’t made a decent hollandaise yet. Parmesan-encrusted zucchini sticks, sautéed summer squash, mustard-sauce cauliflower. From plain veggies, it was a small step to add meat or seafood for stir fry.
Then I moved to Texas, and I blew the doors off the meat barn. Brisket, ribs, and anything grilled. I was in my twenties at that point, so my metabolism could take a beating.
After meat, I went back to baking. Breads—yeast and quick breads—muffins, and lots of pie. When I felt truly demented, I made candy (like a short, tanned female Willy Wonka…I guess that’s an Oompa Loompa).
Food deprivation & lust
There’s a reason why “food porn” is such a well-used term. More than a third of adults in the United States are obese, while the other two-thirds are starving themselves in a panic, trying not to be obese.
When you’ve had some ups and downs with your health—especially when it affects your weight—your relationship with food changes. For various health reasons, I can’t eat a lot of salt anymore. I also can’t eat dairy. And, as recent diet studies are saying, sugar is the devil. So basically, that leaves…I don’t know, kale. Don’t mock me. It’s a painful topic.
Deprivation of a favorite food (or pastime) creates a craving for it. A lust, if you will. Hence, the “porn” part of the phrase. It’s human nature to want what you can’t have. Beautiful, horribly flawed human nature.
Eternal appreciation (mine & yours)
Choosing a food critic as a main character means I’ll never run out of ideas. When we stop eating, we stop living. And for some reason, we humans have created an endless variety of options. How could I run out of source material? At least about food. Murder, maybe—though I hear love, money, and revenge never go out of style.
Non-science or nonsense
TL;DR: I like food, but sometimes I’d rather write about it than eat it. Because even I, occasionally, am full and I need to occupy my time until the next meal.
Murder. Mayhem. Dumplings. A new Josie Tucker mystery is coming soon. In the meantime, have you read the others?