We are kicking off 2021 in our online Lit Happens book group with Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore.* And though it's not a cook-from-the-book kinda group, I am almost always inspired into the kitchen after reading a book or watching a movie.
The premise of this book - that Oona time-travel every year on her birthday and lives her life out of order - is intriguing. And having seen the rave reviews, I was excited to read it. But I struggled through this story because I didn't care for the protagonist.
Oona is selfish and though she’s aware she’s living her life in random, one-year segments, she’s remarkably uninterested in any kind of introspection. Her main goal in life seems to be having fun, regardless of the consequences to herself and her loved ones. And though she tries to caution herself with post-it notes in jacket pockets to avoid pitfalls, she ignores those warnings and repeats her same mistakes to the same disastrous ends.
All of this led to a discussion about fate or pre-destination in Lit Happens. I am looking forward to hearing the gals' thoughts on this more when we meet virtually this week. But overall this book fell flat for me. If you're interested in a time-traveling novel, I highly recommend The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.*
Her marriage to Edward was filled with lots of food mentions as he struggles to open a restaurant and she bankrolls it. He introduces her to Toad-in-the-Hole, promising, "no amphibians will be harmed in the making of this dish." His restaurant concept is "British meets classic French. Chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce and Yorkshire pudding. Shepherd’s pie with dauphinoise potatoes instead of mash. Bouillabaisse with a side of bubble and squeak. That sort of thing." So I almost made my Bouillabaisse, but I liked the character of Edward even less than I like Oona and felt as if I were condoning his bad behavior by making a dish inspired by his timeline. Silly, I know.
Of course Oona's time in Vietnam got me thinking about all sorts of our favorites. "And there was the food: plentiful, inexpensive, and delectable. She ate and ate and ate street food—skewers of meat, bowls of noodles, crunchy papaya salad—her taste buds soaking in the key flavors of the native cuisine: sweet, salty, sour, and spicy."
But, in the end, I went with a cocktail...
"'I already ate breakfast.' Two Bloody Marys, but surely the tomato juice counted as nourishment.
There are lots of variations on a bloody cocktail. And, no, I didn't have mine for breakfast. I knew that if I used vodka, it was a Bloody Mary and using tequila makes it a Bloody Maria. But I learned that pouring in sake makes a Bloody Geisha and substituting rum makes a Bloody Pirate.
- 3 ounces Bloody Mary cocktail mixer
- 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
- juice from 1 lemon wedge
- 1 to 2 dashes hot sauce
- 2 drops lemon bitters
- freshly ground pepper
- ice cubes
- Also needed: mason jar and cocktail glass
- lemon wedge
- Bloody Mary cocktail rimmer (optional)
- 1/4 to 1/2" wide strip of peppered beef jerky
- 1 each of pickled carrot cube, pitted green olive, pickled green pepper, pickled red pepper, gherkin, and pickled pearl onion