Michelle Diener, author of Banquet of Lies, has always had a passion for reading and writing. But that’s not all she’s passionate about! Check out her guest post below to see what other hobbies Michelle enjoys!
I love to bake. Like, really love it. And I hope that leaps off the page in my upcoming release, Banquet of Lies. Set in London during the Regency era, it follows the adventures of Giselle, a young woman of high society who, because her life is in danger, goes into hiding as a French cook.
Giselle pretends to be a cook, only, you can’t really ‘pretend’ to be a cook. You actually have to cook. Which isn’t a problem for Giselle, since cooking is something she does well, and this is where the fun began for me. I poured over recipe books, especially the recipes and menus of Antonin Careme, the most famous chef of the Regency period. For Giselle, having to come up with superb French meals while dodging killers and running a traitor to ground isn’t so easy. But she somehow pulls it off. And to make sure the meals were as delicious as they sounded, I donned my apron and made them all myself.
Quite a few of the dishes in the book are still current-day favorites. I chose them deliberately because it made searching for the ingredients easier. And there’s just something special about a recipe that’s able to stand the test of the last two hundred years .
You can make them, too, if you’re interested. I promise you–they’re all delicious, and they’re up on my website. And if you’re interested in other Regency recipes, visit the Jane Austen site that has a whole bunch of other selections. The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies is another gem, handwritten and filled with recipes from the early 1700s through to the mid 19th Century.
I’ve mentioned Antonin Careme already. As the celebrity chef of his day, Antonin Careme revolutionized how kitchens worked, how menus were served and how chefs prepared food. One of his favorite ingredients was something you don’t find on the menu often nowadays–cock’s testicles–and I had great fun creating a scene where one of my most colorful characters, Georges Bisset, threatens the hero of the story with a large knife and mentions using a certain part of his anatomy in one of his recipes.
If you’d like to see what Cock’s Testicles look and tastes like, check out this video below of British chef Heston Blumenthal as he tackles that very recipe.
So fun to watch, and when you read the scene in the book, I hope you have an extra chuckle.
The scent and taste of food is very evocative, I can’t smell brioche baking without thinking of my time in France.
What food evokes strong memories in you and why? Answer in a comment below by 9 a.m., October 22nd for your chance to win a copy of Banquet of Lies. Two winners will be chosen. *Click here for complete contest rules.