Sunday, May 16, 2010

Eat Your Way Through Literature

by Martha Engber

(Makroud el Louse)

The joy — and challenge — of writing THE WIND THIEF was the research involved. I had to quantify this aspect of the book for a press release, and here’s the result:

Number of research resources: 97

Type of research:

Tabla lessons


Nonfiction books


Personal interviews

Museum exhibits




Places: Africa, India, Brazil, Argentina, Jamaica

Languages: Arabic, Berber, Hindi, French, Portuguese, Greek

Religions: Islam, archaic northern African

Weather: wind, wind folklore, air temperature/pressure/currents, global warming, acid rain, seasons, natural disasters

Ocean: currents, weather, shipping

Activities: wind surfing, rock climbing

Cuisine: Algerian, Moroccan, Argentinean

Music: tabla, Moroccan instruments, Algerian flute, terms

Crime: petty crime, con games, biological warfare

Though all the research was engrossing, the most tasty was that involving food: naan, tagines, Moroccan pastillas, Argentinean mate.

For my An Evening in the Sahara Desert: Food, Photos and Reading from THE WIND THIEF, at 4 p.m. Sat., May 29, I’ll be bringing Makroud el Louse. The Algerian almond cookies, featured in above photo, that reflect the French influence of that country. I made them yesterday and the hint of orange flower water is outrageous.

For book clubs members — or any reader/foodie/Julia Child wannabe — who would like to conclude reading THE WIND THIEF with a dinner/discussion featuring food from where the story takes place, I’ll be bringing a list of recipes for your enjoyment.

Food is always an integral part of my research, because eating awakens every sense, and in turn awakens sensuality, the basis for passion involving place, people and circumstance. Sensuality, and specifically the sensual books that have influenced my writing, will be the topic of my next post on May 23.

Until then, happy eating and reading.

(If you're a writer, feel free to visit my Q & A site for writers.)

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