Candied Ginger and Ghost Eagles: Cooking the Books with Alex London (& Family!)

Alexander London‘s first young adult novel, Proxy, blew me away. His middle grade books are wonderful.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

And now the newest addition to the London library, Black Wings Beating hits the Cooking the Books crew right in the feels with its giant murderbirds and amazing world building!

(PS: what made this interview especially exciting was the gargantuan feat of not getting distracted by the adorable Baby London… who you might hear cooing in the background. It was difficult, but Aliette and I saw our way through, because it is important to know what to feed a murderbird, right? Exactly.)

To prepare yourself to face such birds, or immensely cute babies, or both, please hasten to your nearest bookstore or library to acquire Black Wings Beating. And enjoy our discussion of all things falconry and food, including what to pack for a bird hunt! Do give a listen on Cooking the Books this month, both here and at the extension kitchen over at The Booksmugglers! (Check out Alex London’s Booksmugglers Bonus answers… including the pokemon answer!).

This month’s Cooking the Books Podcast, #041: Candied Ginger and Ghost Eagles: Cooking the Books with Alex London contains:

  • murderbirds
  • giant ghost eagles (aka murderbirds)
  • lots of feathers
  • siblings
  • magic
  • queer romance and boys kissing
  • the world audio debut of the most adorable baby London
  • candied ginger
  • possibly a little bourbon
  • only a few torn off faces (murderbirds, for real)
  • chocolate and beef jerky — not together! — okay a little together. Gross, right?
  • shoutouts to many wonderful books
  • falconry (ie: murderbirds)
  • And much more.

Ready? Subscribe to the Podcast here! Or on iTunes! Or click play below:
(and consider supporting us on Patreon, hmm?)

And visit additional Cooking the Books content over on the The Booksmugglers!

(Thanks as always to our friend Paul Weimer who helps clean up the CtB kitchen after we destroy it…)

Podcast #041:Candied Ginger and Ghost Eagles – Cooking the Books with Alex London

Recipe: Ortolan

adapted from The Illustrated London Cookery Book by Frederick Bishop, 1852

My recipe is truly a dark one. A traditional and illegal dish of France, Ortolan is a dish eaten under a white cloth (a) to savor the aromas and (b) to hide the shame of it from G-d, who apparently can’t see through napkins. The dish, the tiny ortolan songbird, is eaten bones, head and all. As three Michelin starred chef Michel Guérard told the NY Times, “[Ortolan] is enveloped in fat that tastes subtly like hazelnut…and to eat the flesh, the fat and its little bones hot, all together, is like being taken to another dimension.”
So, it’s a bird, it’s brutal, and it takes place on a secondary earth fantasy world apparently…how could I resist posting?
  1. The bird should be kept in the dark, so that it will perpetually eat. Ancient Romans used to blind them but keeping them in a box works just as well. They should not be killed with violence, like other birds; this might crush and bruise the delicate flesh, and spoil the coup d’ceil – to avoid which, the best mode is to plunge the head of the Ortolan into a glass of Armagnac, drowning it. Drowning in fine brandy sounds a terribly literary way to go.
  2. Having picked the bird of its feathers, singe it with the flame of paper or spirit of wine; cast off the beak, and ends of the feet; do not draw it; put it into a paper case soaked in olive oil, and broil it over a slow fire. Some methods simply say spit roasting will do. Lastly, they may be cover’d or strewed with breadcrumbs and salt, and/or eaten with Salt and Orange.
  3. That last direction isn’t so helpful, but I never plan to make this, so I suppose have no way to test it. Enjoy!

Alex London is the author of the middle-grade series, Tides of War, Dog Tags, and The Wild Ones and the young adult novel Proxy, which was an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, a Texas Lone Star Reading List, and TAYSHAS Reading List selection, among many other state awards lists. It is currently in development as a series with SyFy/Universal Cable Productions. Black Wings Beating is his first epic fantasy. You can find him online at, @ca_london, and his Patreon mostly for Harper Lee as an alien bounty hunter fiction:

Cooking the Books is a mostly-monthly podcast hosted by Fran Wilde and Aliette de Bodard.

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