Jun 17 2009

Food, Glorious Food!

THE PUF REPORT: Part 4 of 5

MRE - Unpackaged to reveal contentsSome of you may have heard me mention that I often travel with an MRE in my luggage. An MRE being: Meal, Ready to Eat. Yeah, cooked to death, preservative ridden, irradiated, vacuum packed, shelf stable for 99 years, food sort of stuff. The very same scientifically balanced glop they feed our men and women in uniform. Some MRE’s are perfectly edible. Not 5 star dining, mind you, but edible nonetheless. Others are oddly horrible mystery foodstuff that doesn’t even vaguely resemble the description on the outside of the watertight packaging. But, you can still choke it down, and it is scientifically proven that you can not only live on it, but it isn’t likely to kill you either.

Those of you who have never heard me wax prophetic about MRE’s are probably wondering why I would bother carrying such in my luggage. Well, you see, it’s like this – When you get booked in at a festival, you never know what you’re going to get in the way of eats.

Yeah. I know it seems like a no-brainer, especially since it says right there in my contract that you have to feed me. However, I have been flown in to far away cities, picked up and hauled out to the middle of nowhere for a fest, only to have the organizers say, “What? You didn’t bring your own food?”

Of course, those are few and far between. Still, they have happened.  Right there with them are the fests where they feed toddler portions to grown adults because they don’t know how to plan meals. Three chicken nuggets and 5 french fries does not a meal make for a 47 year old fat guy like myself.

However, I think what may be worse, in fact I know it’s worse – and unfortunately these happen way too often – are the festivals where they serve you something virtually inedible. For instance:

raw-eggsI have been served raw eggs. Yes raw eggs. Not runny, not overeasy, not sunny side up. R… A… W… Raw.

I have been served spoiled pork chops. Spoiled as in gone bad folks. Salmonella and all that good stuff.

Rancid, rotting potatoes. I mean, come on… If I wanted my potatoes that far gone, I’d buy a bottle of Vodka, okay?

Unidentifiable mixtures of who knows what, cooked so far beyond tastelessness that they have moved into the direction of making you gag, so that even Oliver Twist wouldn’t ask for seconds.

And, in one instance, my wife and daughter (along with several other attendees) contracted food poisoning at a festival. Severe enough that paramedics were involved.

But, fortunately, there are other fests. We’ll call them, those fests. They are the festivals and conventions that live on the other end of the spectrum. They feed you so well that the best restaurant in the city can’t hold a candle to them. There are some stores that fall into this category as well, such as Violet Flame Gifts. We will call them, those stores… But, right now, we are talking about fests…

And, PUF is one of those fests

You see, at PUF I have my Rachel. Some of you may even have read about my Rachel in one of my novels, namely Blood Moon. She was the character Aileegan.

Now, the thing is my Rachel is in Ally-bammer, and she’s  actually Doug’s Rachel. Doug is wayyyyy bigger’n me. Doug could break me in half with his little finger. Fortunately, however, Doug likes me (the feeling is mutual) and he lets me borrow Rachel.

No… Not for that you dirty minded monkeys… E K would kill me and stuff. In fact, I’m not sure if she’d kill me first, or just stomp on my corpse after Doug killed me, but the effect would pretty much be the same. I’d be all corpsified and gross.

You see, what Doug actually does is he loans Rachel to the VIP’s at PUF. That is to say, he and Rachel are at PUF every year, working their tails off. But, more specifically, Rachel is the one and only, lifetime designated, Chef to the guest authors. Sometimes Rachel runs the whole kitchen, sometimes not. But, you can always find her there. And moreover, she ALWAYS cooks breakfast and various other goodies for the VIP’s.

Take for instance this year. We arrived to find the following resting on the table of the common room in the cabin -

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some kind of pizza meatball things (I want MORE of these!)

carrot-cake-ii_6726_450These were just a bit of comfort food on which we could nosh if the mood struck.

Now, I would be horribly remiss if I didn’t mention something else we found. This, however, was from our good friend Tracy -

Carrot Cake

And, not only was it Carrot Cake, it was probably the best freakin’ carrot cake I have ever put in my mouth (Sorry, Mom)… The only problem with it was that it was so big we couldn’t finish it. But, let me tell you, I had carrot cake every day, and I even brought a piece home with me.

Now, getting back to Rachel… Here’s the thing… I’ll put our Rachel up against Rachel Ray any day of the week. Our Rachel will whoop her ass, I’m telling you. Not only can she out cook her, blindfolded and with both hands tied behind her back, she’s really cool too. None of that ridiculously inflated perkiness. Just regular perkiness. So, if the FoodNetwork wants to set up a “cook off death match”, we’re in.

Anywho, of all the festivals where I have been, even the fests that feed you well, PUF and Rachel, feed us like you wouldn’t believe – Apple Cream Cheese “Burritos” with Caramel Sauce, Fresh Cinnamon Rolls, Chorizo Frittata, Little Canadian Bacon Cuplike Thingies with Eggs, Cuban Pork Breakfast Sandwiches… And I could go on… And on… And on…

And, believe me, I am not even scratching the surface of the food that Rachel cooks for us, much less that of the communal feast which has a spread that goes on forever, and variety like you wouldn’t believe (now that the previously mentioned Lasagna Law is in force. See PUF REPORT Part 2 of 5 – Where’s Kat?) And, if that weren’t enough, this year an attendee made Kahlua cake especially for the VIP’s as well… Not just one Kahlua cake, mind you, but two – one of them was diatetic so that two of the VIP’s who are diabetic could enjoy it as well.

Yes… We eat very well… Awww, hell, we eat like friggin’ royalty. And, not only do we enjoy it, we appreciate it as well. If nothing else we know PUF will keep us fed and happy.

However… There was a darkness over our food experience this year. More specifically, over my personal food experience. You see, every year my Rachel makes for me – specifically for me – something called the Sacred Pie. It was mentioned in Blood Moon as well. It is this amazing melange of sausage, apples, cheese, and maple syrup, baked into a wonderful crust… and… wellbtthpppt… nmbbttpp…

Jubba mimmint…

Okay… Sorry about that. I was starting to drool… Anyway, back to the issue at hand. Rachel knows that I will actually hoard Sacred Pie. Often times she will make two. One for the cabin and one for me to take home. She does this because she is well aware that I will parcel out the second pie and have a slice for my lunch every day for the week following PUF.

I love my Rachel…

sausageBut, I’m supposed to be addressing the issue, so here it is. There was no pie this year. Rachel, with much sadness and trepidation, followed by disbelief and anger, informed me that someone had stolen the sausage from the refrigerator in the kitchen. Sausage she had purchased specifically for the purpose of making the Sacred Pie.

Yes… Stolen.

Vanished… Gone… Absconded with, and all that… Thou shalt not steal… Ill gotten sausage… Hot… Looking for a ground pork fence…

I was sad. I cried. I fell down on the floor and bawled like a baby.

I was absolutely devastated…

In fact, my reaction was so startling that E K experienced an uncharacteristic fit of compassion. Yeah, I know… Miraculous, eh? Of course, I think it is tempered by the fact that she still gets to be evil You see, not only did she comfort me, she promised to find and horribly torture for an extended period of time whoever was responsible for thieving the ground up pig leavin’s. Rachel, being Rachel, with a wicked gleam in her eye, offered to help E K with this task.

So what it comes down to is this – There’s a pork thief out there somewhere who is on the run. I’m not sure who it is, but I’ll be looking hard at anyone with grease stains on their shirt and a satisfied look in their eyes. Rest assured if I ever do catch up to this particular scum-sucking, lily-livered, low down wretched cur of a sausage stealer, there’ll be hell to pay.

And, I know for a fact it’ll be hell, because I’m just turnin’ ‘em right on over to Rachel and E K, and they are a hell of a lot meaner than me… Not only that, Rachel has knives, grinders, and other scary kitchen utensils (shudder).

Ya’know… Now that I think about it, I might just have to skip the pie next year unless I provide the sausage myself…

More to come…

Murv

The next installment in THE PUF REPORT: Part 5 of 5 – She Loves Me… She Loves Me OUCH!

14 Responses to “Food, Glorious Food!”

  1. Tracy says:

    HAHAHAHA… These PUF reports are great. Glad you liked the Carrot cake.

  2. DS says:

    The new motto for thieving at PUF is: Those that steal at PUF, stay at PUF. (This came from Doug)

    I have a nice place all picked out for them. One where no one will hear them scream while EK & Rach have their way with them.

  3. Marcia says:

    Muah, now I’m hungry! But, you know, the REGULAR food that the REST of us PUF-goers get to eat is really good, too, just prob not as. Do you authors ever mingle/eat with us at all? Not one author came to the concert – missed some great music. Just saying. Loved your Options workshop, btw!

    • Oh yeah, all the food is wonderful… As to the other questions, we authors are always right there in the dining hall for supper. I cannot count the number of times I’ve signed books while my mouth is full…

      However, herein lies the problem – When doing workshops and such we end up visiting with folks afterward, in between, etc… Signing books… Attending handfastings, having pictures taken with attendees, talking to people from other fests who want to book us, doing the potty dance because we haven’t had a chance to pee for 8 hours, and a million other things. Therefore, we often end up FINALLY getting to eat supper at right about the time everyone else is sitting back, burping, and gnawing on a toothpick.

      Same thing for lunch… In fact, there are some pics out there on Facebook from this year that show Morrison and me gulping down our lunch as fast as we can while sitting in the back of a pickup truck, because we had just finished a workshop, signed books, and then had to go straight into doing the parade. Fortunately a staff (staph) member brought our lunches out to us at the truck or we would have missed them entirely. (Which, by the way, is not at all an uncommon occurence.)

      On the concert, I’m absolutely positive I missed a great time… But, that is once again an unfortunate side effect of being an author at ANY festival or convention. We are working all day – from the time we walk out the door of the cabin, until we walk back in that evening – so we are beat. And, by the time said evening rolls around we will often just sit and stare at one another around the table at the VIP cabin for a while, then wander off to bed while the bulk of the attendees are still partying. :(

      I’m not complaining, mind you, just explaining. It’s all part of the job. A lot of folks don’t realize that when you go to a festival as an author, it is just like going to the office to work. Festivals ARE our office. VERY COOL Office at which to work, but you still get worn out by the end of the day. :)

      Glad you liked the workshop! I think I’ll have to present that one again.

  4. Lovely says:

    i can’t believe you mentioned violet flame. i love it there. I’m actually hoping to see you there next week. heather is amazing. whenever I’m in newark visiting family when she has the shop open i make sure to stop by, even if I’m only in town for the day. hopefully this visit i’ll get to finally meet you, along with visiting my favorite pagan shop.

  5. Cari says:

    Man I’m already having a bad day, and finding out someone stole food for that awesome-sounding Sacred Pie makes me want to thrash upon someone with the most unholiest of vengeance. >:- (<– the cari bear stare chicken face of doom)

  6. Lisa says:

    Oh my God! When I finally quit laughing… I’m sorry I haven’t quit laughing. After Rachel and E. K. are done with the thief, please send them my way. There is no excuse for stealing pork products! And I really, really, really need the recipe for Sacred Pie. I am so not kidding! I love pork, cheese, and the other stuff too. Thanks for such a wonderful story from PUF. ;)

  7. Gina says:

    I will never ask for your Sacred Pie recipe (understanding how secret recipes are hoarded throughout eternity… and not being a dyed-in-the-pigskin pork fancier) but I’d LOVE to have the recipe for the carrot cake! Any chance you can share that one, Tracy?

    Great stories, Murv!

  8. Schueyman says:

    Clearly, my friend, you should be looking for a Piper’s son named Tom. He has a record.

  9. You write with such good humor – after food poisoning, even. ;) That is some seriously good looking food.
    ~jon

  10. Jill says:

    I was in the kitchen when the sausage was discovered missing. I must say, I have never seen Rachel so heartbroken. She loves to make that special pie for you also, just so you know.

    I have worked in the kitchen during PUF several times. It is really the only job at PUF I feel comfortable doing–and without Rachel it would simply not be the same.

  11. Man, my grandmomma was from Sicily and she made the most delicious meatballs I ever tasted, like you had died and gone to meatball heaven. Sadly, she didnt leave a single recipe for me so I’ve been trying to work it out on my own… slowly working my through the meatball recipes here, I still cant figure out what her secret ingredient was though!!!

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