Happy Valentine's Day!
In honor of Valentine's Day, let me share some chocolatey research that I did a few years ago.
While Cleopatra might have been the richest woman in the world in her time, there were a few luxuries that her vast wealth simply could not buy. Even had she craved chocolates, she could not have had any. Or if she had had a hankering to smoke a cigarette. Or maybe she had the late night munchies for an order of fries. All the gold-laden barges in the world could not have bought these treats for her. Why? Because they did not exist in her world.
While I was conducting research for “Woman Of A Thousand Secrets” I made some delightful discoveries. I had not known, for example, that Europeans had not even heard of a tomato or a potato before the discovery of the Americas. Imagine, Italians eating spaghetti without tomato sauce! Englishmen eating fish without chips!
And these tasty discoveries were not a one-way street, either. Before the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, to find avocados, cocoa and vanilla awaiting them, the Indians had never tasted pork chops, peaches or pears. What an exchange it was! Animals, too: the Indians gave us turkeys, and the Spaniards gave them horses.
It is amazing to me to think how that pivotal voyage in 1492 altered dining menus and forms of transportation around the world. No longer were the New World indigenous people walking everywhere and carrying all their goods on their own backs, but riding horses and using them as pack animals. And on the other side of the world, tables were groaning with potatoes, pineapples, pumpkins and cranberries.
I must confess, all that research made me hungry. Is it any wonder that while I was writing “Woman Of A Thousand Secrets” I gained five pounds? I was almost afraid to start writing my next book, “The Divining” (sequel to “Soul Flame”), which takes place in the ancient Germanic world of the Rhineland. Just think of all that sweet honey-mead and roasted wild boar. My next book takes place in a winery in Southern California. The research has been delicious!
Happy Valentine's Day everyone :)