My Most Memorable Meal: G. Wells Taylor
Halloween.Some would say it’s the perfect holiday.You get to play dress-up, people give you candy and you don’t have to drive three thousand miles to spend the day with your family.But some would say that the day’s events, now mostly celebrated by children, are the remnants of darker times and reminders of darker places—shadow realms where evil lurks patiently to pounce on the living and the dead rise and walk. Places like the World of Change where Canadian author G. Wells Taylor sets his genre-bending horror novels,He’s releasing the second book of his Apocalypse Trilogy, Forsaken,on Halloween and talked to GFG in the midst of preparations for the book’s launch.
GFG:So you like to scare people.What scares you?
GWT: I am always on the lookout for movies and books that will scare me because I’ve grown a high tolerance to the usual suspects: werewolves, ghosts and vampires.
But political correctness terrifies me. When you think about it, there’s not much difference between that and criminal profiling, except you’re guessing what might offend someone, rather than wondering which someone might offend you. Cloaked in good intentions as it is, PC is much more dangerous to freedom.
As fear relates to food, I was afraid of Green Peppers when I was a boy and called them: “obscene.” I quite like them now but back then, they really set me off. I think it was the alien seedpod thing they’ve got going.
GFG:It’s Halloween.Will you be handing out tricks or treats at your door?If so, what will you be handing out?
GWT:Actually, I avoid drawing attention to my downtown penthouse apartment. (It’s the entire top floor, so I get to call it that.) At night, the alley outside my building sounds like something from I Am Legend. However, I do not sleep in the bathtub.
If I lived in a neighborhood more conducive to American gothic traditions like Trick or Treat, I would hand out cans of pop. I remember how exciting that was for me as a kid. In fact, I remember the news flying quickly from ghoul to pirate to princess any time a Halloween house was discovered that was giving away pop. We all ran for it.
GFG: Have you ever celebrated finishing a book with a festive meal?
GWT:I constantly bribe myself to do things: go to the gym, finish tasks, complete projects, tie my shoes, etc., usually with pizza slices—sometimes with potato chips. When that doesn’t work I will do anything for an action figure.
As we all know pizza slices are only edible about twenty percent of the time. So when I finish a book, I do something special and celebrate by ordering a whole pizza with the works on it. I then eat the pizza until it hurts.
On such important occasions, I’ve been known to sweeten the pot with a bottle (or two) of an Argentinean merlot by Trapiche.
GFG:You live near Toronto.Where do you like to eat when you go out?
GWT: In Toronto, I enjoy breakfast at the Queen Street Restaurant. For $3.99 you get three eggs, marinated hash browns, toast, with the entire meal covered by three slabs of peameal bacon. People race to get the hash browns before they sell out.
(Note:Peameal bacon is a Canadian favorite.According to the bbqtalk.ca web site: “Peameal Bacon is cured but not smoked …made from pork loins weighing 12-14 pounds. They are trimmed of all the fat and the bones are removed. The term peameal comes from the ground yellow peas with which the bacon was originally coated. This ensured better curing and shelf life and avoided bacterial problems. Over the years this tradition was changed to cornmeal, due to the availability of corn.”)
For dinner I enjoy Cedars, a Lebanese restaurant that has an exquisite combination plate in its far-ranging and exotic tastes, featuring grape leaves and hot pickled turnips that make your eyes roll back.
In Owen Sound, I enjoy Jazzmyn’s Tapas and Taps. I frequent this pub because my Friday after work beer goes perfectly with their special Jazzmyn’s nachos that include plump chicken strips and a wide spectrum of veggies delivered on a bed of multi-colored tortilla chips. God I’m easy to please.
GFG:It’s getting towards winter.Any cold-weather foods you particularly enjoy?
GWT:Being a full time teacher with five kids, my mother had to come up with treats and comfort foods that were easy on expense and quick to make while still being attractive to an unruly gang of squabbling children.
On cold mornings she would make us Welsh Rarebits before school. I should point out that they weren’t real Welsh Rarebits.I think she just grabbed a name we could remember.
They are easy and fast to make. She’d do up some toast and then apply a slice of Kraft process cheese (or two) before slipping them open-faced under the broiler. We’d gather around and watch through the oven window as these creations first began to melt and then develop a skin that plumped up balloon-like before rapidly browning into a tasty dome. Delicious, though you quickly learned to exercise caution going in. Those blackened cheese bubbles disguised a molten surprise that could scorch your skin to the bone. Simple, but they warmed the heart and to this day I tear up when I burn my mouth on them.
GFG:You’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving this year (Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October), but the winter holidays are coming up.Any special holiday foods you’re looking forward to?
GWT: I do not have much of a sweet tooth, day to day, being a hot pepper and spice fan instead. But, Christmas is the one time of year that I let loose, and plow into the sweets with abandon. My sisters bake for their families at Christmas, and the rest of us delight in ripping the tops off their decorative cookie tins to get a look under the wax paper. They’re notorious for making Sprinkle-top Brownies, Chocolate Peanut Clumps, Chocolate Egg Noodle Clumps and Nanaimo Bars.
GFG:Do you cook?
GWT:I cook occasionally and my specialty is the “Super-charger.” I developed the “Super-charger” during a vitamin-deficient episode, in which my high-cal, low nutrient, take-out diet created an internal environment that left me vulnerable to every cold or flu virus on the planet. The Flintstone chewables just weren’t doing it.
I start with a jar of spaghetti sauce as a base to which I add whole tomatoes, green pepper, olives (green or black or both), mushrooms, broccoli, celery, carrots and green onion—anything with vitamins that will fit in the pot. Oh, and a jot of Trapiche merlot. I cook this slowly under a dusting of garlic powder and a few shots of Louisiana hot sauce.
It “super-charges” the body with a large dose of vitamins and nutrients that solitary writers often overlook. And once you’ve got a big pot of this, you can eat it “as is” with strips of cheese floating on it or with some modification, it can be applied to pasta, eggs (excellent faux-Spanish omelet) or rice.
GFG:What was the most memorable meal you ever had?
GWT: My most memorable meal involved cold chicken, wine, some company and a hilltop. I would say more but I’m a gentleman.
The Forsaken by horror author G. Wells Taylor is available midnight October 30, 2008 at gwellstaylor.com and wildclown.com. To celebrate the release of The Apocalypse Trilogy: Book Two,Taylor will extend free e-book downloads of popular Book One in the series: When Graveyards Yawn.