Food plays a big part in It’s Not Never. I wanted my heroine Jessica to have a normal uncomplicated relationship with food, and even to delight in it. Jessica has a sweet tooth, and thinks about food a lot. She is also a good cook, influenced by her Persian roots. I don’t have any sort of food heritage beyond things from the freezer put in the oven, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned to appreciate a wide range of foods and to cook properly.
It was lots of fun researching different sort of foods for the story, foods that reached over three continents.
When we meet Jessica she stops off after her run for a strudel. We learn she has a sweet tooth, and she has just moved to Germany, so the lovely, flaky, fruity pastry seemed a perfect start.
Julia at plated cravings shows you how to make this Viennese pastry from scratch https://platedcravings.com/apple-strudel-recipe/
Continuing with the European theme Jessica announces how much she loves schnitzel, which makes John giggle. Well, schnitzel is a pretty funny word and John can make anything rude… BBC Good Food maybe a quintessentially British website, but the recipes are always reliable.
At a dinner party for John and the rest of the crew Jessica makes a Persian inspired feast, including tahdig, which I learned about from Totehran. I’ve never tried this rice dish with a special crust before, nor tried to make it. It’s difficult to get right, I understand, but always looks delicious.
I also spent a lot of time researching Persian bread, and chose barbari, which Persian Mama’s blog makes sound irresistible. In It’s Not Never Jessica an John make the bread with the special glaze and the indentations. Persian Mama insists that no extra flour be added, to keep the bread moist, and Jessica admonishes John when he tries to add more flour in the book. https://persianmama.com/noon-barbari/
One of my favourite sweet treats is ice cream, and I also love the different varieties of familiar foods you get particularly across different European countries. You often find the same brands but with flavours you’ve never seen. And when John buys Jessica an ice cream at the park this is what I had a in mind, a Milka ice lolly sold in Germany. Incidentally my editor and I had a fairly heated debated about what constituted an ice cream and what was a lolly. I lost. You’ll see in the book it’s an ice cream. Despite being on a LOLLY stick…
Finally to Florida, when John and Jessica go for rocket launches at Cape Canaveral. I did a bit of research about classic Florida take away foods and came up with fried shrimp (or prawns as we call them in the UK). Buddy the Travelling Monkey lists the best seafood restaurants in Florida and I think this dish of fried shrimp from Pier 220 looks just what Jessica and John needed after a day on Cocoa Beach, and is actually based not far from there.
I hope reading It’s Not Never leaves you with lots of feelings, but I’ll be happy even if that feeling is just hungry.
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