— But you will be ready to say, what was your hope in doing this? — What did you look forward to? — To any thing, every thing — to time, chance, circumstances, slow effects, sudden bursts, perserverance and weariness ... Every possibility of good was before me, and the first of blessings secured ... — from Emma, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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April 6, 2011

And listening to in the car...


Nothing in my culinary experience had taught me what to feed a vampire when he came for dinner. In the library, I spent most of the day on the Internet looking for recipes that involved raw foods, my manuscripts forgotten on the desk. Matthew said he was omnivorous, but that couldn't be true. A vampire must be more likely to tolerate uncooked food, if he was used to a diet of blood. But he was so civilized he would no doubt eat whatever I put in front of him. After undertaking extensive gastronomic research, I left the library at midafternoon. ... Passing by the dome of the Radcliffe Camera, where the undergraduates read their assigned books, and the medieval walls of Jesus College, I went shopping along the aisles of Oxford's Covered Market. List in hand, I made my first stop at the butcher for venison and rabbit, and then to the fishmonger for Scottish salmon.
      Did vampires eat greens? Thanks to my mobile, I was able to reach the zoology department and inquire about the feeding habits of wolves. They asked me what kind of wolves. I'd seen grey wolves on a long-ago field trip to the Boston Zoo, and it was Matthew's favorite color, so that was my answer. After rattling off a long list of tasty mammals, and explaining that they were preferred foods, the bored voice on the other end told me that grey wolves also ate nuts, seeds and berries.
      'But you shouldn't feed them,' the voice warned. 'They're not house pets.'
      'Thanks for the advice,' I said, trying not to giggle.
      The grocer apologetically sold me the last of the summer's black currants and some fragrant wild strawberries. A bag of chestnuts found its way into my expanding shopping bag, too. Then it was off to the wine store, where I found myself at the mercy of a viticultural evangelist, who asked if the gentleman knew wine. That was enough to send me into a tailspin. The clerk seized upon my confusion to sell me what ended up being a remarkably few French and German bottles of wine for a king's ransom. He then tucked me into a cab to recover from the sticker shock on the drive back to College.
      In my rooms I swept all the papers off a battered 18th-century table that served as both desk and diningr room and moved it closer to the fireplace. I set the table carefully, using the old porcelain and silver that was in my cupboards, along with heavy crystal glasses that had to be the final remainders of an Edwardian set once used in the senior common room. My loyal kitchen ladies had supplied me with stacks of crisp white linen which were now draped over the table, folded next to the silver and spread on the chipped wooden tray that would help me carry things the short distance from the kitchen. 
      Once I started making dinner, it became clear that cooking for a vampire doesn't take much time. You don't actually cook much of anything. By seven o'clock, the candles were lit, the food was ready, except for what could only be done at the last minute, and all that was left to get ready was me.
-- from A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness

I don't do vampires, witches and demons, really I don't, but this is delicious stuff. They teach at Yale and do research in the Bodleian, they have PhDs and career paths, they smell (the vampires) of cinnamon and cloves, they practice yoga, and then there's the romance.

{image found here}

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3 comments:

Karen K. said...

I thought I was completely over the whole vampire thing but that actually sounds interesting. Does it mention whether or not they sparkle?

Audrey said...

Hi, Karen!
It does, or something like it. Maybe they ripple? Very informative. :)

Bellezza said...

I downloaded a sample of this for my Nook, after seeing it on all the bestseller lists; I'm not into vampires or witches, either, so I'm glad to read you enjoyed it. If I buy the whole book and read it, we can discuss it further!

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