Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing sibling. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite.
Someone must have introduced me to Stephanie at some point last year — but there have been too many lunches and readings and conferences in between. Suffice it to say that I’m very glad to know her — she’s a wonderful person and a great writing pal. And I’m equally glad that her Crawford-award-winning book The Angel of Losses is in the world, now in paperback! Stephanie joins us to tell a few more secrets from The Angel of Losses.
Book Bites with Stephanie Feldman
The narrator of The Angel of Losses, Marjorie Burke, is a graduate student researching Gothic tales of the Wandering Jew. When she discovers her late grandfather’s own fairy tale about a holy sorcerer and a sinister angel, she throws herself into finding his remaining stories, and discovers the dangerous legacy that haunts her family still.
Marjorie and I have some things in common. For instance, we’re both obsessive researchers. But Marjorie’s so obsessive she forgets to eat. At one point, she says she’s living on bagels and grapes. I remember writing that line and thinking, Who is this woman? Because I have never, of my own volition, missed a meal.
Marjorie’s journey takes her through legends and mysticism and history, but it also leads her to reconnect with the people she has habitually pushed away. One of these people is her on-again off-again boyfriend Simon, a librarian mapping legends of the Lost Tribes of Israel. He’s obsessed with his research too but at least takes some time out to live:”Simon knew where to find the best noodles in Chinatown, the best tacos in Red Hook, and the best cannoli on Arthur Avenue. We went to movie theaters with curtained screens and spent consecutive Sunday mornings getting lost in the park. For almost a month I tried to have a different kind of life… I tried to forget the White Rebbe, his first meeting with the angel and the three stories still missing, but I couldn’t let him go. Every few days on the train I glimpsed a passenger with curling white hair in the passing car. In a diner I would hear a deep, rough laugh from the next booth, and my stomach would drop. “Do you know that person?” Simon asked every time, and I continued to answer no. If I got a good look, I saw it wasn’t him; if I didn’t, I was left preoccupied and unsettled.”
Marjorie puts down the tacos and goes in search of the White Rebbe. I don’t think we see her eat again until the very end of the book, and that meal is a demonstration that she’s found a measure of peace.
This dish below does not appear in the book, but because the novel draws on (and revises) Jewish mythology, and because it’s all about family, let me give you one of my favorite family holiday recipes.
Also, listen, I don’t like raisins either, but in this they work.
Cinnamon Raisin Kugel
- 12 oz egg noodles, cooked (the vermicelli kind, please)
- 4 tbs butter, melted
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tbs honey
- 2 tbs cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3/4 raisins
Combine butter, honey, sugar, cinnamon. Whisk in eggs and milk. Fold in noodles and raisins. Bake in a greased 9×13 dish at 350F for 30-35 minutes.
- 2 cups packed fresh cilantro
- 1-3 cloves garlic (depending on what you like)
- 1/4 cup pepitas AKA pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup cotija cheese
- 1 serrano pepper, seeded and roughly chopped (optional)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- salt to taste
If you can’t find cotija, feta would probably work, though may up the salt factor.
If you’re very fussy about pesto, go get your mortar and pestle. If you’re moderately fussy about pesto, pulse the cilantro and pepitas in a food processor; then stream in the olive oil; then add the pepper, cheese, and lime juice. If you’ve got books to write or ghosts to chase, throw it all in the food processor and blend away. Serve on tacos, mixed in rice or other grains, or with a spoon.
[Are you in or near Philadelphia? Join Stephanie tomorrow, June 24, for the paperback book launch at Barnes & Noble, Rittenhouse Square!]
Stephanie Feldman is a graduate of Barnard College. Her first novel, The Angel of Losses, is winner of the Crawford Fantasy Award, a nominee for the Locus Award for Best First Novel, and one of The Washington Post’s Top Five SFF Books of 2014. She lives outside Philadelphia with her family. You can find her on twitter and at stephaniefeldman.com.