Book Bites: Corsair by James Cambias

Corsair is available at fine bookstores everywhere, including Barnes & Noble; you can also order it from Amazon, or get the audio book from Audible.com. Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-A-Science-Fiction-Novel/dp/0765379104 Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Corsair-Audiobook/B00U3DWAM0 Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/corsair-james-cambias/1120327552?ean=9780765379108 MacMillan/Tor: http://us.macmillan.com/corsair/jameslcambias
AmazonAudible |  Barnes & Noble

Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing sibling. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite.

Since the first time I served on a food panel with James Cambias at LoneStarCon, I’ve been impressed by his epic familiarity with foodie goodness, his bow ties and sartorial flair, and his ability to converse on many topics. Moreover, I’m delighted by the premise of his new book, Corsair (Tor, May 2015), a near-future, hard-SF thriller about space pirates where David Schwartz, a self-taught genius who has made millions stealing payloads of valuable Helium-3 from the Moon and Captain Elizabeth Santiago of the Air Force’s Space Command are caught in a private war that ranges from the waters off Cuba to the surface of the Moon.

Welcome, James!

Book Bites with James Cambias

I grew up in New Orleans, where discussing what to have for dinner is the standard lunch conversation. Consequently I always pay attention to what my characters eat and what that says about them. In A Darkling Sea I got to invent two alien cuisines and discuss the difficulties in cooking at the bottom of an ocean.

My new book Corsair takes place on near-future Earth, so there’s no alien food. But eating still plays a role.

David “Captain Black” Schwartz, the main character of the novel, has a taste for fine living, including an addiction to Thai iced coffee. This actually drives some of the action: he escapes from a desert compound by trickery, simply to make sure his employers don’t force him to run the space-piracy operation from an insufficiently cosmopolitan town in central Asia.

His nemesis, Air Force Captain Elizabeth Santiago, is not a foodie. She is overly fond of alcohol, but views food as fuel. Elizabeth gets romantically involved with Jack Bonnet, an astronaut, who eats like a teenager. On their first date he takes her to a taqueria and orders one of everything for himself.

The real foodies in the story are Mike and Yumiko Levy, a pair of entrepreneurs developing a solar-powered space propulsion system. Mike loves cooking and eating. When he loses his spaceship his response is to drive forty miles to get proper Russian-style blinis and champagne as consolation.

This dish isn’t in Corsair, although I can easily imagine Mike Levy making it for Sunday brunch during the summer. It’s called Flamenco Eggs. I got the recipe from a Spanish cookbook, and have since discovered a vast number of variant recipes from all over Latin America. This is the one I make most often at home.

Flamenco Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 large fresh tomatoes (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small red or green bell pepper (red for a more Spanish taste, green for a Creole flavor)
  • 4 ounces of chopped ham, chorizo, or linguica {if you’re being vegetarian you can leave this out}
  • 1 or 2 ears’ worth of cooked corn, cut off the cob (or 1 small can of cut corn, drained of liquid) {this is optional}
  • 8 thick slices of crusty bread, toasted

Serves 4. For larger or smaller numbers, adjust the number of eggs and toast slices.

Begin by making a tomato sauce: Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds, dice them and set aside. Peel and chop the onion, then sautee it on low heat in a little oil until it turns clear and light gold in color. Peel and mince the garlic and add. As the onion gets close to being done, add the chopped ham. Cut the core and ribs out of the pepper, dice it, and add. Add the tomatoes and increase the heat to cook them for about 5 minutes, then reduce again. Add the corn. Flavor with salt and black pepper to taste (be heavy-handed). If you want a more piquant sauce, add a dash of Tabasco or Sriracha.

Let the sauce simmer 10-15 minutes while you prepare the toast slices. Once everything is ready, break the eggs one at a time into a small bowl and add gently to the sauce. You’re making poached eggs, so don’t break the yolks and don’t stir it around once you add them to the sauce. Cook the eggs 3 minutes.

Put one slice of toast on a soup plate and top with an egg and a generous amount of the sauce. Serve with a second slice to mop up with. I usually drink cold Portugese Vinho Verde with this, but it would be equally good with Mimosas for brunch, or just strong coffee.

Save any leftover sauce in the pan. It’s good mixed with scrambled eggs, or you can drain it and use it to fill an omelette.


Jim2010James Cambias hails from New Orleans, and got my education at the University of Chicago. Since 2000 He’s lived in western New England, where he wages a lonely war against insidious plant-beings. He spent the 1990s writing roleplaying games, and began publishing fiction in 2001. His first novel, A Darkling Sea, came out in 2014 and his new book, Corsair, is on sale now. You can find him at jamescambias.com

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