The release day for Ghosts is creeping ever closer… actually it’s less than a week as I write this – and I’ve just been told that book #3, House Hunt, will be released on March 30th… so I’m struggling with a case of full-on jitters. And what’s good for those?
Eating works. I’ve got cinnamon rolls and tea, and something spicy and oriental for dinner. Writing about food works too. So this is what I’m going to have a crack at here. I’m gonna talk about some of Jack’s favourite foods. Especially those that some of you may not be familiar with. Why, you may ask? Because Ghosts is set between Christmas and Valentine’s Day… while there’s soul searching, hacking and much love in the story, there’s also an awful lot of food. And Gareth cooking.
Trying to stop Gareth in Christmas mode is, according to Jack, like trying to stop the tide. And since he loves Gareth’s food almost as much as he loves good coffee, Jack has no incentive to even try. I mean, who doesn’t love a man who likes to cook, right?
So what, apart from excellent coffee, cinnamon toast and anything containing morello cherries floats Jack’s boat?
Well, there are chipolatas – small, tasty pork sausages – and prosciutto bacon. Over Christmas, us Brits apparently scoff a 1,000 miles of the little beauties. They’re traditionally grilled and served alongside the Christmas turkey, but Jack can probably eat a tray of the things all by himself while he works. And when he’s been roped in to do kitchen duty…
By the time the soup was a promise of velvety, orange-and-fennel-scented richness and the goose was roasted to perfection, Jack had started to regard cooking with Gareth as a new form of torture. He had prepared a mountain of sprouts, peeled blanched chestnuts until his fingertips were sore, and been smacked over the head more than once with a wooden spoon for sneaking strips of the rather tasty prosciutto he was supposed to wrap around the chipolatas.
“I bought extra so I could eat some,” he whined, only to hear Gareth laugh.
“I doubt you bought that much extra. And anyway, dinner is ready when you are.”
And what a dinner that will be with Gareth’s favourite Christmas soup followed by roast goose, red cabbage with pineapple and buttery, garlic-infused mashed potatoes. That’s not comfort food, that’s pure heaven as far as Jack is concerned.
Which doesn’t quite apply to that other of Jack’s favourites, Pie and Mash.
Yes, he loves it when Gareth makes pie and mash at home, especially since Gareth has pie recipes Jack has never heard of before! But real pie and mash has been put on this earth for a very different reason.
It’s the sort of food you eat before you drown yourself and the world’s woes in a bathtub full of beer… and that you eat surrounded by friends who are in the same boat. Just like Jack, Lisa, Raf and Clive did after Mitrovic was sentenced to many years in prison. (And, of course, Gareth played taxi when they’d all drunk their fill. That one goes without asking.)
There are still some wonderful, old-fashioned pie shops left in and around London, so I could do proper research. Some are even selling jellied eels alongside the traditional pie and mash! Try Goddards in Greenwich, which has been selling pies and mash since 1890. Or the Butchers Hook & Cleaver (also known as Fuller’s Ale and Pie House) next to Smithfield Market, where I got to photograph and eat one smashing dinner. And try some rather unusal ales…. 🙂
Please note: you can visit a pie and mash shop without having the world on your shoulders! It’s actually quite enjoyable without that burden. If you happen across Jack Horwood, though… I’d not disturb him. You’ve no idea what sort of day he might have had!
If you’d like to know more about Jack & Gareth, Nico & Daniel and don’t mind watching Gareth cook… why not get your copy of Ghosts right here?