Monday, June 19, 2017

A TRIFLE DEAD Week 3 Discussion

a trifle dead livia day

We're nearing the end of our June readalong of A Trifle Dead by Livia Day. I hope you're enjoying this quirky book! Today we'll be discussing the food and happenings of chapters 15-20. You can check out the entire readalong schedule in our June newsletter, and read our previous discussions for weeks 1 and 2 on this blog.

milk bar sydney
Sydney Milk Bar, 1946
Image by State Record Authority of NSW via Wikipedia
Not a lot of noshing or cooking going on in this section of the book, since Tabitha shuts her café down in the hopes it will flush out her absentee landlord. But she does go to a catered party and immediately starts hating on the hors d’oeuvres. There's "sushi made with semi-dried tomatoes and pine nuts," which admittedly does sound pretty disgusting; and vegetarian sausage rolls (seems like an oxymoron) that "looked like something had died inside them." Yum. Tabitha also has issues with "toothpick food," I guess because people put the used toothpicks back on the platter and then they roll around and touch the uneaten food? The aesthetic and sanitary implications of eating food with toothpicks isn't something I've ever considered, to be honest. Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to catering?

In addition to investigating the Trapper, some personal revelations came out in these last few chapters that makes this passage particularly poignant:

When I was a little girl, Dad used to take me out to his favourite milk bar near the station (probably the last place in Hobart that called itself a ‘milk bar’) and order me lime spiders in glasses so tall I had to stand up to drink them through the straw. It’s basically lime syrup, ice cream and lemonade, thoroughly disgusting, and they never fail to cheer me up.

A "milk bar" is an Australian store that serves as a corner store-cum-delicatessen and serves things like fish and chips, milk shakes, etc. They're not as popular as they used to be, but according to Wikipedia they're still a common sight in most Australian suburbs.

As for lime spiders, these things look incredible! I don't even care if they're disgusting, I want to try one based on looks alone. For a more adult version of the drink, you can use lime cordial in place of lime syrup.

And now for a more serious topic: Tabitha's choice of pizza. Apparently she's a fan of pineapple pizza. I know this is a divisive topic and there are a bunch of people who think pizza with pineapple isn't "real pizza." I've never had a chance or desire to try it. What do you think? Real pizza or no? (As an aside: Speaking of weird pizza–and weird sushi–I saw a sushi pizza on TV the other day that actually looked pretty good.)

What do you think of the mystery so far? To be honest, I found the last few chapters fatiguing because it seems like Tabitha's dashing about with no solid clues or logical train of thought. I have a suspect in mind, but only because s/he seems the least likely person, not because there's any evidence pointing to them.

It is curious how the Trapper stuffed Tabitha's fridge with ping pong balls, though. I'm thinking s/he filled a giant trash bag with ping pongs, put the bag in the empty fridge upside down with the top loosely twisted closed, then shut the door just enough that the balls wouldn't roll out, but they'd still be able to pull the bag away as the balls slid out. Any other ideas? You could also get a large sheet of plastic or cardboard, use it to cover the open fridge with space at the top to pour in the balls, then shut the door and pull away the board.

Obviously I've put a lot of thought into this.

herb soup
German herb soup
Back to the food! Some other foods Tabitha mentions are peach meringue roulade, another dessert like pav that's usually served during the holidays; friands, small almond cakes similar to financiers; and Bavarian herb soup. The herb soup really caught my attention because I love soup (who doesn't?), but I've never seen it made entirely with herbs before. It looks absolutely delicious. In Germany, it's traditionally served on Holy Thursday, or the Thursday before Easter, which is also called green Thursday. This super green soup is perfect for that holiday, no? I really want to try it. For a Mediterranean-style version, see Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe.

What did you think of the book this past week? Have any ideas who Tabitha's mysterious tormentor is? Spotted any foods I didn't mention? Tell us in the comments or paste your link into the linky below!

Next week will be our final discussion, when all will be revealed!

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