In my new novel, What’s Left, her aunt Nita embodies a rare quality I’ve come to appreciate. She’s someone who seems to know everyone. She takes an interest in their lives and families. Remembers details. Asks questions. Suggests social connections, job opportunities, resources.
She’s also someone people trust. You can confide in her, find consolation, comfort, compassion.
In the bigger picture, she’s a kind of person who makes community function. I can make a list of people I’ve known who do that.
In my new novel, What’s Left, the family’s nest egg was built by living on one income – in a single household – while everyone worked at the restaurant. The surplus went into savings and investments. Once the kids come along, their earnings also go in the pooled income, to be drawn out for college or marriage. Over time, as the family grows, the house has parents, grandparents, kids, aunts, uncles, and cousins. What a circus!
As for pocket money? Take it from the till? Some places, yes. And some places, no.
They’re about to start over, in a way, when Cassia’s father-to-be shows up.
In my new novel, What’s Left, her parents’ generation recognizes their family business will need to make big changes for survival. For her uncle Dimitri, that includes corporate planning and big investment, once the dust settles.
But first, he has to see exactly what they’ve inherited.
No matter how much I like the details that shape the events, some just had to be cut from the final story:
One of the conundrums I’m left with in my new novel, What’s Left: What if you don’t like her father, her deceased Baba, as she recovers him? (Or recovers from him.) Is it essential to your enjoyment of the story?
It’s prime time for hot soup. We’re not talking about anything out of a can or a package dropped into boiling water. These are the ones made with fresh ingredients – or things you froze in season for use later. Probably with a good homemade stock, too.
Tomato. Seriously, my wife’s is always a hit – and the glutten-free, lactose-intolerant, or vegans aren’t left out of the pleasure. Our secret ingredient is the tomatoes we cook down and stick in the big freezer in high summer in anticipation of this.
Potato-leek. Simply comforting. Again, with our own leeks. Storing them through winter is a special challenge – so far, we find peat moss works best in buckets placed at the back of the cellar.
Split pea and/or lentils. I imagine there are whole cookbooks devoted to the possibilities.
Ramen. Remember, Japan created restaurants purely for this. Forget that cheap stuff in the plastic bag – though if you do, add tofu, the way we do.
Pho. A hearty Vietnamese dinner in a wondrously big bowl.
Seafood, meaning clam chowder or lobster bisque. (OK, that’s two. I just love both.)
Hot and sour. Fresh Chinese bamboo shoots can make a world of difference.
White bean. Last one I had was an Iranian version with lamb’s neck and another eight or nine ingredients. It was heavenly. Or you can stick to a hambone. Just don’t disparage good beans, OK? (Well, let’s add a footnote for turtle black beans, especially as a great Cuban bowl.)
Ravioli. Yes, as a soup. Slurp ’em up!
Asparagus. We put those stems we cut off to work later.
Well, India’s Mulligatawany belongs on the list, too. I doubt we’re done here yet.