Delicious Serendipity

Posted: May 14, 2014 in Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Stop me if you’ve heard this.

My daughter and I are writing an urban fantasy with half-breed fairy-tale creatures that only our 12-year-old female hero can see.

OgreOne of the first people she meets on her quest is a nasty ogre-born man in her neighborhood. According to her ancient guidebook: “The ogre is brutish and strong and always hungry, but easy enough to trick. They especially like to kidnap children, who are less clever and less likely to fight back than adults.” The drawing shows a large hunched man with a hook nose, sharp teeth, and a bulging belly, covered from head to foot in scruffy hair. He has extra-long arms, and he clutches a terrified child in one hand and a huge cooking pot in the other. Armed with this delightful knowledge, she knocks on her neighbor’s door….

The door jerked open, and the awful smell hit me like a punch in the stomach. Standing in the shadows of his dark doorway, Mr. Perrault towered over me, glowering. It took every bit of my strength to keep from screaming. He wore a blood-stained apron and had bare arms covered in black, curly hair. In one greasy fist he gripped a huge butcher knife with bits of red meat clinging to it. His nostrils flared as he sniffed me.

Cat, our hero, soon learns that he makes sausages (out of whom what she does not care to guess), and he is in fact the head chef at La Maison d’Entrailles. At this point I was essentially done with this character. He had served his purpose of introducing our innocent hero to the dangerous hidden world to which she is an unwitting guest.

Cut to present. In the chapter we’re working on now we’ve decided that Cat and her family are going out to dinner. So it occurred to me, why not have them go to La Maison d’Entrailles? After all, only Cat knows Mr. Perrault is the chef there, and that he is part ogre.

Have you ever looked at the ingredients of some of the more … interesting French dishes? I did as part of my research for this chapter, and what I discovered delighted me beyond all expectation. You few loyal fans of this modest blog will be the only people to know that I did not plan this utterly brilliant turn of events, but that I stumbled upon them quite by accident. Imagine a home-schooled and slightly sheltered 12-year-old girl sitting down in her first French restaurant, faced with ordering food prepared by her sausage-making, ogre-born neighbor. The menu is filled with beautiful studio pictures of the exotic meals, and the names of the dishes are all printed in French, with small English translations beneath:

Escargots (snails)

Foie gras (fat liver)


Tripes à la mode de Caen (stomach cooked in cider)

Andouillettes (intestine sausage)

Canard à la presse (crushed duck in blood sauce)

Pieds paquets (feet and stomach dumplings)

Cuisses de grenouille (frogs’ legs)

Ris à la Gusteau (pancreas with anchovy licorice sauce)

Chevreau rôti au vin (roast kid with wine)


Norman Tart

Crêpe Suzette

Her little brother happily orders Mac and Cheese from the kid’s menu, and Cat sincerely hopes it isn’t pieces of some poor slob named Mac covered with cheese. After all, they’re serving tarts made out of some guy named Norman. And they are roasting kids and serving them with wine!

If you’ve ever taken a young person to a fancy restaurant for the first time, you’ve no doubt heard the plaintive request for a plain cheeseburger and some ordinary fries. You may have said to them, “Just give it a try! You might like it.”

Perhaps now you’ll see their squeamishness from a slightly different perspective.



NEWSFLASH: We’re getting close to finishing the first draft of The Last Princess.  If you would like to sign up to be a beta reader, please use the “Beta Reader Sign-Ups” tab at the top of this page.



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