…by Karna Small Bodman
Have you ever read a thriller packed with tons of action, travel, chases and stay-up-all-night runs to get away from the villain? Sure. We all have. But have you ever wondered why the heroes and heroines never get to stop and eat something? (Or take a nap?) I’m thinking now about stories such as Dan Brown’s great thrillers (DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, Deception Point), as examples. Maybe the author thought it would slow down the pacing too much. I don’t think so. I like to try and identify with my characters, and stopping to rest and taking time to enjoy a decent meal makes the whole scenario much more believable — don’t you agree? (Even if it’s only to “rejuvenate their spirit” to carry on, so to speak).
So in one of my new novels, Affairs of State (I will let you know when it is published), there are several scenes in Brazil, both in its capital of Brasilia and the glittering “romantic city” of Rio de Janeiro. No, it is not pegged to the Summer Olympics next week, which may not be so glittering as only some of the athletic fields are complete, as you can see here – but housing and transportation are not. I have no clue about the restaurants. And it may not be so romantic either as criminal behavior is at an all time high, which makes it a tough place for tourists, but a pretty great venue for a thriller. Ah, but I digress.
|Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics|
Back to the new story: while the hero is trying to evade a dangerous and devious villain bent on revenge, and the heroine is about to become “collateral damage” — they do stop and eat once in a while. So in researching local menus, I discovered a popular area akin to a street fair where Brazilian chefs offer their kitchen creations in booths and colorful kiosks. I discovered, for example, that Brazilian pizza doesn’t resemble Dominos (which is usually lathered in tomato sauce and mozzarella.) In Rio they offer a unique variety of toppings on a thin crust including hearts of palm, potato sticks, corn and bacon, though they will add fresh tomatoes of you wish. Some can taste like a delicious BLT!
|Classic Brazilian Feijoada|
In their restaurants you will most likely find an offering of Feijoada — a kind of beans and pork stew. I wanted to pass along the recipe to you, but it is terribly complicated as it includes black turtle beans, cured beef, salt pork, Spanish sausage and collard greens, along with unique South American spices you probably won’t find at the Safeway or Whole Foods store. It looks “interesting” and I’m told it is quite the delectable dish.
Another favorite is Cordeiro — Lamb. In fact, Portuguese Roast Lamb is a something you might like to try at home though this recipe calls for you to be organized enough to combine the initial ingredients and marinate the lamb for 24 hours. Here’s what you do:
BRAZILIAN ROAST LAMB
Combine in a food processor (or just mix really well into a paste):
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
5 slices of thick bacon chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons of white wine
Spread this mixture on a butterflied leg of lamb. Roll it up and tie with kitchen string, put it in a pan, cover it, and marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
Day of serving — Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the lamb in a roasting pan, drizzle with:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Roast for 20 minutes
Reduce heat to 350 degrees
|Brazilian Roast Lamb|
1/3 cup white wine
1 cup Chicken Stock
5 dried bay leaves
Roast for another hour.
Slice, serve with roasted potatoes and a vegetable.
Now, in case you want a lamb recipe that is super simple for your own dinner or to share with guests — here is one of my favorites that I intend to use in a future thriller:
SIMPLE LAMB SHANKS
Spray some Pam in a large pan – on Medium heat add:
1 medium onion – chopped
2 (or 4) lamb shanks trimmed of excess fat
When slightly browned add:
1 normal size (14.5 oz.) can of “Stewed Tomatoes”
Fill that empty can 2/3 with red wine (whatever you have leftover from a previous dinner perhaps)
1 teaspoon rosemary
Few grinds of pepper
Cover and simmer on lowest possible stove setting for 2 hours. Check frequently to be sure there is still some liquid. If it’s cooked down, add a bit more wine.
Serve with mashed potatoes and a green salad — it’s really terrific.
Now, please tell all of us here at “Rogue Women Writers” what types of recipes — from what countries (that might be good settings for our thrillers) — that you would like to try. And check my website for upcoming novels: www.karnabodman.com . Now, click on “comments” below and give us your thoughts — if the spirit moves you!