PseudoPod 729: What We Talk About When We Talk About Cooking Country & The Halloween Parade

Show Notes

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Audio notes:


What We Talk About When We Talk About Cooking Country

by Jamie Grimes, Kitty Sarkozy, and Jessica Ann York


Transcript of What’s on the Table, Episode 92:

What We Talk About When We Talk About Cooking Country


BERTRAND COBB, host:

This is What’s on the Table. I’m Bertrand Cobb. If you’re like me, the past few months have challenged your culinary capabilities. Anyone who’s listened to this show is aware that I’ve dabbled in the sweet science of baking. I have produced a number of edible breadbox basics. This includes current instagram favorites sourdough and banana bread. However, I’m no maître pâtissier. 

But our guest today, Pricilla van Pelt, is a master baker. She recently published her first book at the tender age of seventy-five, collecting recipes and personal stories from her award-winning blog. It’s called What I’m Talking About When I Talk About Cooking Country. Her book has generated a lot of buzz on pinterest and instagram, as well as the discussion boards of reddit since publication.

I’m still working from my home studio and connected with Ms. van Pelt via Zoom from her grandson’s home in Buford, Georgia.

Pricilla van Pelt, can you tell us What’s on the Table?

 

PRICILLA VAN PELT:

Well, Mister Cobb, there’s a pretty little centerpiece my great-grandbabies put together, wildflowers mostly, and this computer. We don’t need much more than that.

COBB: [chuckles] I find your cookbook fascinating. Every recipe has a story or warm anecdote that is as much an experience as the food itself.

 

PRICILLA: I used to love reading memoirs, seeing how famous folks lived their lives. Now I’m not saying I’ve done much of anything except this book, but if you can see my cooking through my eyes, through my experiences, maybe you’ll find it all as special as I do.

 

COBB: I want to begin with a reading from the book, if you’re up for it.

 

PRICILLA: Oh, I’d love to.

 

COBB: It’s almost Halloween. How about the introduction to the pumpkin cookies?

 

PRICILLA: Of course.

 

“It’s these cookies I’m always coming back to this time of year. The pumpkin, the spice, the little tea frosting. I started making them back in, oh it had to have been ’89. I was trying to figure out what to do now that the kids were finally all off on their own. My quilting guild tried to put it in my head that I was good enough to start up a bakery on my own. I’d sometimes whip something up and take it down to Leonard’s showroom. His flooring customers and employees loved them, but who doesn’t enjoy free cookies? I didn’t think they’d be worth selling. Thought I’d be a fool to waste time on anything like that. But I did like baking and my friends loved eating. I started working on my recipes and testing them out on the ladies at our weekly meetings.”

 

COBB: Your quilt guild. You dedicated this book to them.

 

PRICILLA: If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They helped with the design elements, helped me get it published.

 

COBB: It’s a beautifully designed book. That gold inlay on the cover—

 

PRICILLA: We call that a triquestra. Some nowadays call it a trinity knot, I’ve heard. It’s got another name, real old, but I’m liable to sprain my tongue if I try to pronounce that.

 

COBB: Well, we wouldn’t want that. I’d like to talk a little bit more about the importance of family to your work. You talk at length about your struggles raising your children and about your adventures in grandmotherhood, but there’s only a few mentions of your husband.

 

PRICILLA: Yes, raising three kids might not have been so hard if he’d been around more. But he’s been gone these thirty years, no need to go digging him up now.

 

COBB: You think he’s dead?

 

PRICILLA: He has been to me and the kids for a long time. Ha, he was an odd one, that Leonard.

 

COBB: What do you mean?

 

PRICILLA: All those ridiculous flooring commercials he made. This one time, the local station slipped up and interrupted the inauguration of President Bush, the read-my-lips one, not his boy. Blasted things kept showing up every now and again for months after he was gone. I’d call up the station and ask them to stop.

 

COBB: And did they?

 

PRICILLA: Some did. Some didn’t — but they swore up and down they did. Anyways, let’s talk about these yummy cookies.

 

COBB: Of course. It’s just…I was wondering: Why, after all this time—thirty years, you said—why would anyone bring up your husband’s disappearance? Why now?

 

PRICILLA: Bless your heart. You ain’t never spent time outside the city, now have you? Small towns, you see, they can be like a…like a crab bucket. You understand what I’m saying, not liking people getting big ideas?

 

COBB: [hesitantly] I think I do.

 

PRICILLA: Come on now. Can’t a woman accomplish anything without her husband being centered in the conversation?

 

COBB: But don’t you want to talk about it all? Maybe set the record straight? He was last seen on April 30, 1989.

 

PRICILLA: [sighs] Oh, I remember that day clear as this one. Leonard had been especially stern with me that night. He didn’t like all the time I was spending with the girls.

 

COBB: Your quilt guild? He didn’t like them?

 

PRICILLA: No he did not. Can we—?

 

COBB: Why’s that?

 

PRICILLA: [pause] I’d come home from our meeting full of light and life, sugar. Happy, wasn’t no way for a wife to be. Anyway, that night he was drinking. Boy was he drinking. Now, he wasn’t never right, a bunch more quirks than most folks, but if he had a few too many drinks…

 

COBB: Wow, I hadn’t read anything about that side of Leonard in my research. If you need a moment to—

 

PRICILLA: Now, you gone and got me started, pumpkin, might as well see it to the end.

 

I had been out in the little garden I was putting in with the girls, they had come over to help me with the tilling and planting. We weren’t doing nothing wrong. A little wine, a little dancing. We put together a few words and we blessed the earth. They left right after he got home, but I stayed out, doing a few things. He must have started drinking right away, because not an hour later he comes storming out yelling nonsense, already boiled over. Saying something about feminism or witchcraft or lesbians. Told me he didn’t like what them girls were turning me into. Oh, I sassed him hard. He didn’t often lay a hand to me, hadn’t in years and years, but that night he did, struck me once. He used some off-color words, the least repugnant of which was devil. Made some accusations. I told him he could go right to hell and get my room ready. Come morning, he was gone.

 

COBB: Why keep this to yourself all this time? I’m sure your detractors would ease up, if only—

 

PRICILLA: Oh it ain’t never been a secret, I told the police when they were looking for him. I’m sure my statement is written somewhere. But the kind of people that would come after an old lady? I wasn’t going to explain myself to them.

 

COBB: Leonard was never found?

 

PRICILLA:  The whole town did a search, found neither hide nor hair of him. I told the cops about his lady friends. One of the girls from the quilt guild said she had seen him. Another came forward about them having an encounter, before she knew he was married. Of course I forgave her, it’s the right thing to do. Those girls are the world to me, I couldn’t have done any of this without them.

 

COBB: We’re coming into our last minute, and I’d like to apologize that we haven’t really talked about your book.

 

PRICILLA: How courteous.

 

COBB: [nervous] We could close out with a little more from the book?

 

PRICILLA: Yes, dear. We should keep on the pumpkin cookies, ‘tis the season.

 

“The first pumpkin of the season was plump, orange as a perfect sunset, sitting right where the land had been blessed. I was so overcome by its perfection that I got down on my knees, cut that sucker open right there in the garden. It took a little effort. You know the way the skin resists a knife point, until it sinks in? It was a nice feeling. I scooped out the guts with my bare hands and sliced me off a piece of that flesh. I took a little nibble. I ain’t gonna lie. It was sweeter than sin. That’s how I got the idea for my cookies, I wanted all those sensual exotic flavors, from that chai one of the girls had made, last we met. Cinnamon, cloves, ginger and the big secret is a little black pepper, for luck”.

 

[Dialogue is abruptly cut off and interrupted with a commercial.]

 

“Do you want a monster of a deal on your next flooring installation? Well I’m King Leonard and I’m murdering the competition with killer savings during our Halloween sale! I’m absolutely buried in stock! And I gotta get it outta here before my wife sends me to an early grave! Discount hardwoods! Tile! Vinyl! Shag carpeting! All offers considered!”

 

About the Authors

Jessica Ann York

Jessica Ann York is a horror writer whose debut short story is one of the bookends for the anthology Places We Fear to Tread and next story is forthcoming in Vastarien: A Literary Journal. She currently serves as the Content Editor of the official Text Request blog and as an Associate Editor at PseudoPod. Her fiction centers around women who take comfort in using the macabre as a window to understanding their daily anxieties. Through writing and research, she’s come to love the things that used to scare her (like the baby tarantulas, snakes, and rats she’s raised).

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Jamie Grimes

Jamie is a writer, editor, document designer, occasional English professor, and full-time curmudgeon. He holds a MA in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University, where he also wrangles cats and occasionally provides information systems support. He lives with his far superior wife, his indefatigable kid, and the platonic ideal of dog. You can see just how bad he is at social media on Twitter @Jamie_L_Grimes.

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Kitty Sarkozy

Kitty Sarkozy is a speculative fiction writer, actor and robot girlfriend. Kitty is an alumnus of Superstars Writing Seminar , a member of the Apex Writers Group, and the Horror Writer’s Association. Several large cats allow her to live with them in Marietta GA, She enjoys tending the extensive gardens, where she hides the bodies. For a list of her publications, acting credits or to engage her services on your next project go to kittysarkozy.com.

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Alasdair Stuart

Alasdair Stuart is a professional enthusiast, pop culture analyst, and writer. He is a Hugo Finalist for Best Fan Writer, and a British Fantasy Society Best Non-fiction finalist for his weekly pop culture newsletter The Full Lid.

His nonfiction can be found at numerous genre and pop culture venues, including regular columns at the Hugo Award-winning Ditch Diggers and Fox Spirit Books. His game writing includes ENie-nominated work on the Doctor Who RPG and After The War from Genesis of Legend. (more…)

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About the Narrators

Jennie Agerton

Jennie is actually four tentacles in a trench coat, and finds this to provide superior chicanery to the experience of blending in as that provided by a mere three tentacles. Four tentacles means you can pet two dogs and two cats at the same time. By day, Jennie attempts to hold bureaucracy in check.

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Kaz

Kaz is actually three tentacles in a trench coat, able to mimic human speech through an obscure loophole in Eldritch Noise Ordinances.   By day, Kaz pretends to be a member of the terrestrial band When Ukuleles Attack.

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Alex Hofelich

Alex Hofelich is Co-Editor of PseudoPod, the longest running weekly short horror fiction podcast. You can find him out eating at family-owned restaurants, drinking tiki cocktails, and reading a good book.

Find more by Alex Hofelich

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Alasdair Stuart

Alasdair Stuart is a professional enthusiast, pop culture analyst, and writer. He is a Hugo Finalist for Best Fan Writer, and a British Fantasy Society Best Non-fiction finalist for his weekly pop culture newsletter The Full Lid.

His nonfiction can be found at numerous genre and pop culture venues, including regular columns at the Hugo Award-winning Ditch Diggers and Fox Spirit Books. His game writing includes ENie-nominated work on the Doctor Who RPG and After The War from Genesis of Legend. (more…)

Find more by Alasdair Stuart

Elsewhere