Me and Food and Stuff

The lovely and talented Fran Wilde interviewed me about food and particle physics except without the particle physics.  I talk about Vlad as a cook, about the way we use food in The Incrementalists (with Skyler White, Sept. 2013 from Tor), and other things.  Not particle physics.  I made that up.  Just drop it already.  Sheesh.  If I’d known it would be such a big deal, I’d have talked about particle physics, except I don’t know anything about it.

Oh, right, there’s a recipe too; for traditional Hungarian fra diavolo sauce (see what I did there?  That was funny because traditional fra diavolo is Italian, but I called it Hungarian.  That was the joke.  It had nothing to do with particle physics).

The interview can be found here:

A good introduction to particle physics can be found here.


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Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

26 thoughts on “Me and Food and Stuff”

  1. “Anytime you give a guy a hand wound, you’ve got to be really careful of the imagery of stigmata. You’ve got to either intend it, or not bring it up.”

    I’m not going to ask anything you can’t answer. I just wanted you to know I noticed. (And I am definitely not your most on-the-ball reader.)

    Also, I like the idea of food scene as break in tension. I do wonder about the idea that a sex scene “has to be transformational” in the way you described — i.e., that it has to signal a change in the relationship between two (or, I guess, more) characters rather than serving a more pedestrian pacing or world-building function. You can see how cuisine and conversation might be more conducive to world-building than sex, but I’d have thought a sex scene could be uniquely eloquent about aspects of culture that might otherwise be hard to expose, even if the relationship between the characters doesn’t change. There’s a writing prompt in there somewhere, I think.

  2. Fiona could totally have brought out a fondue, but she’d have been very lucky to get to eat any of it.


  3. I don’t know if you remember me; we met a couple of times in the early 90s at some cons in the Midwest. Anyway, I’m a particle physicist. If you need help with particle physics for the next Vlad book (in which Loiosh has to deal with the stochastic energy loss of muons inside hadron showers), please let me know.

  4. For example, do you know about the Battle of Antietam? Lee’s orders, wrapped in three cigars, were lost. How ever could that have happened? It’s that sort of thing.

    Too bad they wound up in the hands of perhaps the only general in the entire Union Army who would fail to act on the information.

  5. “… and the secret to making a divine Töltött Paprika is to make sure that the protons in the paprika are all rotating in the same direction. The direction itself does not matter, as long as they’re consistent.”

  6. I’ll admit it, I cheated. *hangs head in mock-shame*

    I did a search for Hungarian cuisine, and this was the dish that made my eyes jump out, possibly because I recall my grandfather making a variation of this a few times when I was growing up. Unfortunately my grandmother was very English (Grandpa was Romanian/Latvian) and had an aversion to food that had ‘too much spice’ (a barbeque potato chip for example).

    That recipe looks excellent, though I think I’d stick to green bell peppers. I feel that red and yellow peppers get overwhelmed by all the other goodness, and there’s already enough sweet in the dish.

  7. Sounds good (although I’ll probably skip adding sugar to the tomato sauce for just the reason you give). Thanks.

  8. SKZB: The hints of modern physics that you have put into your books seem accurate enough, I’m surprised that you don’t have much of a notion of particle physics.

    On a related note, you should totes get at least a preliminary understanding of Quantum Mechanics. It is an extremely fascinating subject. Just don’t delve too far into it, or your head might explode, or at least tranfer through a wall.

    Particle/wave duality, descrete energy levels, supersymmetry, matter/anti-matter collisions and spontaneous creation, position/speed uncertainty, multi-path transference, particle entanglement, one particle in two places at once,…it’s all good stuff.

  9. Chrif F.: Oh, you know. I’ve read the popular stuff: some of Steven Hawkings popular work and so on. I’m not really totally ignorant; just ignorant compared anyone who knows anything.

  10. PD@3, I see raclette more likely than fondue for Fiona. Dainty already, and she could really do some cool stuff pulling just the right femto-metricfuckton of an ingredient from a shadow to give each morsel the superior ZING!

    On a whole ‘nother level, gotta say I like the idea of egg salad being a vegetarian dish

  11. JP: “On a whole ‘nother level, gotta say I like the idea of egg salad being a vegetarian dish”

    Uh, are there people who believe that eggs are meat?

  12. SKZB: Um, yeah. I know this because I’m one. Or, rather, I was.

    Actually used the google (thank you forever, John McCain, for the definite article) to find out what vegetarians say. From a content standpoint, eggs are an animal byproduct like milk, though the vegetarian-because-killing-animals-is-mean school won’t eat them for other reasons. But even this last group does not call eggs meat.

    Who knew? Thanks for the enlightenment.

  13. Eggs/Meat – I believe this is because eggs are extremely high in protein. They could easily serve the body’s need for “meat”.

    Or, at least, that’s what I think Alton Brown would say. Though there would be a great deal more research, science, and geek references were he to say it. :)

  14. So, in case anyone is interested in how the hungarian stuffed peppers turned out, I shall report. We used the recipe linked above and modified it by adding diced mushrooms, omitting the sugar from the tomato-y bit, and using 1/3 lb each beef, pork, and veal instead of the beef/pork mixture. We reduced the rice somewhat as well.

    It took twice the cooking time to get the meat up to a safe temp, and the rice was still undercooked.

    I view it as a construction issue – the meat ought to be browned first and then the filling mixed and simmered, and *then* stuffed into the peppers.

    The flavor was still quite tasty. Coulda used more garlic and paprika.

  15. Apropos of nothing you have mentioned here I can report that the only ebook of yours available for sale in England is Brokedown Palace. I have therefore gritted my teeth and hit the ‘ask for this on Kindle’ button on all the rest of your books on Sadly Kobo doesn’t have a similar function, though it would probably sell a lot of Paarfi’s porn if you added some whips, but if you have any suggestions as to how to persuade your publishers that we have computers, and money, on this side of the Atlantic then I should welcome them.
    That way you get to eat, and I get to read, which is as close to a perfect example of a win-win scenario that this imperfect world provides…

  16. I’ll check into that, Stevie. My understanding is ebooks should be out soon or now or something.

  17. @jenphalian 19

    “…and the rice was still undercooked.”

    Grandma taught me (after several whacks of the wooden spoon) that the rice has to be partially cooked before putting it into the meat for stuffed cabbages and stuffed peppers. It finishes cooking in the meat. Also remember to add 1/2 to a cup of water into the meat mix. I foget the term, but it similar to partially cooking a vegetable before putting the veggie into the freezer. She was very contemptuous of those who didn’t know this, and had crunchy rice in their stuffed cabbages. No offense intended from me, but she was a crotchty old gal.

  18. @Majikjon – Yes, that’s blanching. :)

    @gunglegym – Yeah, exactly. The stuffed pepper recipe I make all the time does all that so I thought this construction was weird, y’know? But with a new recipe, I try to give it a chance.

  19. @Majikjon and @jenphalian

    That’s the word I was thinking of. Blanching. Also, I am pretty certain I would have done the same thing first time around. I remembered this afternoon though that the word should have been parcook, or maybe parboil. However, I am thinking that someone who posts a receipe like that without mentioning the parcooking should be severelly punished, and no weak taps to the wrist like stoning, tarring and feathering, or dipping slowly into boiling oil. No, suitable punishments, lasting a year and a day, include the following:
    1) required to drink one 8oz cup of plain black coffee per morning. No sugar, no cream, etc.
    2) No meals may be prepared using garlic.
    3) Onions cannot be used.
    4) No chocolate.

  20. Jenphalian@19:Thanks, I was wondering how the rice would do. Partially cooking the rice and/or adding water should correct the crunchy rice problem.

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