Dreaming of food


Boeuf Bourguignonne
The book I'm reading about France opens with a mouth-watering
description of a simmering pot of 
boeuf bourguignonne

With the newest Irene in Chicago Culinary Mystery not yet in print—almost, watch for it, please, in mid-April—my mind is already turning to the next book in the series. At least that’s what I inferred from my dream last night. I dream often and vividly, and it’s not unusual for me to remember a dream, so that part wasn’t significant. What stayed with me today was the question the dream posed about food habits. There will, of course, definitely be food in the next Irene book—after all they are culinary mysteries. But what direction will that take? I don’t know.

In my dream, I was someplace with an old friend, and she told me she didn’t drink much water because there’s bad stuff in it. I squelched my impulse to preach on the importance of drinking a lot of water. I was also reminded of Jacob when he was about six and we used to go to the Neighborhood Grill every Tuesday night for supper with a group of neighbors. The custom unfortunately phased out due to my hip surgery, pandemic, and Jacob ageing out to the point he didn’t think his elders were that interesting anymore. But one night, before all that, when I asked what he wanted, he looked at me like I was so dumb and asked for his usual: grilled cheese. When I asked if he wanted fries, he said yes. When everyone was almost through eating, I noticed he hadn’t eaten his fries. “Jacob, aren’t you going to eat your fries?” He shook his head. “They’re bad for you.” Pause. “Can I have a cupcake?”

What I did say to my waterless friend was, “You could get hit by a truck tomorrow. Enjoy the present moment.” And therein, to me, lies the description of two culinary camps: deny yourself some pleasures to be safe or indulge to enjoy life. With my passion for chocolate and wine, I surely fall in the latter category. And so do the foodies in my books.

So perhaps the next Irene mystery (tentatively titled Missing Irene) will pit Irene (and Henny, inevitably) against someone with extreme health concern regarding food—as one of my sons once said to me, “too granola.” All I know is that the next Irene begins in a French-style café in Chicago.

As background I’m reading Murder Visits a French Village by Susan Shea. It’s the story of a young Manhattan widow who decides to go to France and renovate the decrepit, abandoned chateau her husband bought as a surprise for her. So far, no murder but the story is loaded with the atmosphere of a small village and with plenty of French phrases thrown in. Shea skillfully eaves the translations into her narrative, something I try to do with the Irene books. I studied French one year in high school (Latin two years but it is long forgotten) and had to pass a fluency test in graduate school. I can now barely stumble through the basics, but it’s fun. I’m wondering if Henny will ever follow Irene to France—I think my limited knowledge will preclude that.

Switching subjects, but still thinking about food, Sophie has the most amazing internal time clock. I’ve noticed the last few days that if she wakes at say, 6:45, she’ll go out and when she comes in, I’ll reward her with a tiny snippet of cheese. Then she’ll let me nap until about 8:00. But if she sleeps until 8:00, as she did this morning, she refuses to go out no matter how wide I open the door. She’s waiting for her full breakfast.

In the afternoons, both of us nap, but promptly at four o’clock, give or take a couple of minutes, she’s at my bedside reminding me it’s time for her snack of kibble.

And by 5:30, she’s asking for dinner—that kibble doesn’t stay with her long. If I’m alone in the cottage, she’ll lie on the floor and look at me long and hard as though she can stare me into action. But if Jordan comes in, she’s sure it’s past dinner time and begins to bark and demand. Similarly, if there is happy hour company, she makes her wishes known early, like 5:00 or 5:30.

And finally, she likes to end the day outside, but at eleven o’clock, she comes in. I guess all us girls need a routine. I know I do. How about you?

Bon appetit! je te souhaite bonne nuit.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published