Skip to content

Publication Progress or Handing Over The Baby!

Publication Progress or Handing Over The Baby!.

Advertisements

Publication Progress or Handing Over The Baby!

Things are hotting up for the publication of my second novel, ‘Not in our Hands.’ The thing is, it is no longer in my hands – because I have today sent the final chapter off into the careful and caring hands of Helen, my editor and publisher. She has done two edits, as have I and the next thing to arrive will be the online proofs. Wow! Can’t believe it. It seems on track for publication on Jan 14th 2015 and I already have some event bookings.

The first is on Jan 29th , 2015 from 5pm till 7pm at Waterstone’s Grand Café, Deansgate, Manchester. Maybe this will be the first thing in your 2015 diary!

There is also one at Inman’s in Didsbury on Lapwing Lane, on Jan 23rd from 2-4

“Tell Me What You Eat…..

and I’ll tell you what you are.” – so said a Frenchman! Food is part of our culture that defines us all and it’s interesting to me how food features in my poetry and prose, it is obviously very important to me and how I define myself and my characters. So I thought I’d share a couple of my poems that feature food. Let me know what you think!

MANCHESTER CAVIAR

Since when did mushy peas go down as caviar ?
They put it on a menu in a posh foodie bar;
we wondered what comprised this local delicacy
but there it was, beside my chips, dolled up prettily.

Why not say it like it is, be proud of our cuisine,
squishy, mashed and mushy, like out of a canteen?
Smeared on’t fish ‘n’ chips like a kind of mortar
you swallow it if possible, helped by a swig of water.

Whatever it is, it doesn’t look at all like
sturgeons’ eggs which always seem to strike
me as resembling a pile of mouse droppings;
so these uber-eateries should consider stopping

their pseudo labelling and falsified descriptions
where plates are paintings with inedible additions.
Let’s call a pea a pea and so, too, mushy ones
leave real caviar to snooty southern brethren.

Charlotte Gringras
Published in ‘Write North West’2013 by Erbacce press with Salford University

BLENDING IN

Friends went home to hot cross buns
when I went back to kichels; I longed
to share those buns’ religious connotations –
forbidden to, I’d make tasty imitations.
I couldn’t bake a gooey Christmas cake
lest mimicry of Christian friends would make
me less Jewish. Yet more like them I yearned
to be – then they’d like me. Maybe they’d spurn
the New Year honey cake I brought, trying
to win them over, constantly vying
with them to reach their uniformity
of food to share, aspiring to conformity.
My Pesach cookies went down a treat
serving only to set me apart, to separate;
to join the fold it took pancakes on a plate
sugar-sprinkled, shared for Shrove Tuesday.
Provided that we called it Pancake Day
I could belong; join the gang, play the game
feel like everyone and almost be the same.

Charlotte Gringras
Published in Commonword’s Anthology, ‘Sweet Tongues’, 2013

A warming and welcoming dish

Sweet and sour meatballs with red cabbage

On Page 48 of ‘The Purple Rose’, the protagonist makes this dish trying to welcome home her husband, though their relationship is strained. This below is how I make the dish but there are many variations and it requires a lot of tasting and testing as you cook, so have a few spoons ready.

These can be served together or as separate dishes and best with some plain, boiled rice.

Meat balls

Freshly minced meat : 1 lb

1 onion finely chopped

1 egg lightly beaten

Salt/pepper to taste

Medium Matzah meal (available at all major supermarkets)

Oil or marg for frying/cooking

AND – Optional flavourings

Treacle/brown sugar/lemon juice

Small squeeze of tomato paste/purée, drop of Worcs sauce

Mustard powder. Stock cube or powder.  Big fry pan with lid.

For the cabbage

1 good sized red cabbage, sliced and cut across

1 big cooking apple, peeled & roughly chopped

Half an onion finely chopped or grated

Wine or cider vinegar

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Stock cube or powder

Soft dark brown sugar

Oil or margarine for frying

Big frying pan, with lid

AND Optional for the sweet part of the sweet and sour:

Cassis OR red wine OR date syrup

A handful of sultanas OR fresh dates, chopped.

( Sultanas if using wine or cassis, dates if using date syrup)

Method: Meat balls.

Mix onions into the meat. Add the lightly beaten egg till well combined. Sprinkle matzah meal into it, spoonful by spoonful mixing until you feel it holding together. Leave to ‘solidify’ for five mins. Once they are malleable, wet hands and roll balls of the mixture between your palms, making balls bit bigger than a golf ball. Sprinkle some meal onto a sheet of cling film or foil on the worktop and roll each ball over it – that makes them a little crispy when cooked.

Once all are ready, heat oil on very high heat and fry till brown and sealed all over: keep rolling them over and over, turning down the heat if it seems too hot or is burning the meat balls. They will shrink, so add more balls as you go along and more oil if necessary. Once they’re all sealed, add a little boiling water to prevent sticking, keep stirring and turn down the heat to simmer. Add a little tomato past/puree, some Worcs sauce to taste, black pepper, sprinkle of mustard powder, another splash of water, a tablespoon of treacle, two teaspoons of lemon juice and more water. Stir all the time.

Add still more water and sprinkle on stock powder or cube, crumbled.

Put on lid and after they’ve simmered for about 5 mins, TASTE.

Then it’s up to you to add more or any of the sweet or sour flavouring to make a balanced but not overpowering sweet n sour combo. Simmer for at least 30 mins. Keep tasting as the meat flavour mixes with your flavouring. Taste and enjoy.

Method for red cabbage.

Fry the little onion in oil, on high, till soft and brown

Add cabbage to this with a little brown sugar and stir. If it catches, add a little boiling water and stir further. Add the apple, vinegar, lemon juice, then half a glass of cassis/wine/, a tablespoon of date syrup or treacle, salt and pepper to taste. STIR. TASTE. Add a little more water and simmer, stirring. Then add stock. Put on lid and simmer for at least half an hour or till the cabbage it cooked but not too soggy. Keep tasting to check it’s neither too sour or too sweet. It’s your call! Enjoy.

Food glorious food in my novels

 

It strikes me that in both ‘The Purple Rose’ and in the as yet unpublished ‘Not in our Hands’ a lot of food is prepared and eaten. I belive it’s always in a logical place and I didn’t strain the narrative to incorporate it, rather the opposite – it fell in naturally. Since The Purple Rose’s food is traditional Jewish fare and in Not in our Hands it’s traditional Italian, I will, over time post some of the dishes eaten.The traditional Italian is mainly fresh and barely cooked at all but I promise these will be posted before long. Do remember that I am a writer not a professional cook but whatever I am, I aim to whet your appetite.

Not in our Hands – working title

Here’s some up to date news about my writing. The Purple Rose still brings interest and sales as well as invitations to speak to book groups and others about it. Pretty cheering, two years on!

 I’ve had a number of articles in our local newspaper, The Altrincham Messenger in their Thought for the Week column. This is a column provided by our Altrincham interfaith Group and I put in a Jewish perspective. I’ve had a couple more poems accepted by poetry mags and the anthology, ‘The colour of Poetry’ of which I was a co-editor,produced by the writing group to which I belong, Womanswrite M/cr came second in a poetry antholgy comp.! Well done us!

And so to news of my second novel..as it says above, the title may change between now and its publication but it’s unlikely. This is quite different from The Purple Rose, since it is a coming of age story involving a group of students on their year abroad in Italy – studying its laguage and culture. It’s told from the point of view of Jake, the boy in The Purple Rose,now grown up but not quite independent.

Not in our Hands does not require the reader to know The Purple Rose at all but those who have read it should enjoy the connection. Not inlur Hands concerns dicovery – the discovery of a young person’s identity, the discovery of the value of friends and importance of family, the discovery of love in all its forms and the hazards of an unsutitable attachment.  A tangible discovery is made that leads to a revelation about the history of Italian Jewry. All this is backed by the beauty of Italian scenery, culture, cuisine and less salubrious atmosphere of its football.

We hope for publication by December ’14 or Jan ’15.Watch this blog!

 

About my next book

‘Not in Our Hands’ is its title, that seems certain, now. It’s a challenge, as ever to keep at it – but I was inspired first, by learning about a 16th Century bread box called a ‘medea’  and then, through that, by the discovery of details about the Jews of Tuscany and their history. All this, together with my curiosity to know what kind of an adult Jake (the young boy in my first novel) turns out to be. All these elements combine in the novel which is fast-paced, fictional and fun, with factual details. And there’s football – Italian football, at that. It’s a story for anyone and everyone, young and old – readers once were students, a parents or grandparents of students and also students themselves. Let’s say its readership is universal. Oh! I forget to include the love interest – how could I ?