This post was inspired by The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. I have actually read a couple of her books recently and all of them are odd with a sidedish of creepy. But there is usually food in them!
On the Page
The Family Upstairs begins with the mysterious text message: The baby is 25.
The baby turns out to be Libby Jones who was only six months old when she was orphaned in what was always believed to be the murder-suicide of three cult members. On her twenty-fifth birthday she received a letter from a lawyer, letting her know that she has inherited a dilapidated townhouse in one of London's most posh neighborhood. It was the site of the tragedy over two decades before.
This novel has multiple storylines, three points of view, a sociopath, multiple murders, a cult, and obsession!
Lucy is a single mother who is busking in the south of France, playing her fiddle to get back to London with her two kids and their dog. Libby, her co-worker Dido, and the reporter who originally covered the cult story are struggling to get to the truth of what happened. And Henry reveals the story of his family's riches to rags story.
On the Plate
There is quite a bit of food mentioned...
When Lucy is in France, she and Marco eat at a seaside restaurant. "Marco shakes his head long-sufferingly and cuts into his chicken schnitzel. She stares at the top of his head, the thick chestnut hair swirling from a double crown. She tries to remember the last time they all washed their hair and she can’t." And for dessert - "The ice cream comes. It is three flavors in a glass bowl with hot chocolate sauce, crumbled praline, and a pink foil palm tree on a cocktail stick."
Lucy remembers, "She has sat at these tables with Marco’s dad, worked her way through piles of fruits de mer, a glass of champagne at her elbow or a white wine spritzer, while being cooled by intermittent puffs of chilled water squirted from tiny nozzles."
Henry recalls, "My mother, being German, knew how to do a good Christmas. It was her specialty. The house was festooned from the beginning of December with homemade decorations made of candied oranges and red gingham and painted pine cones and filled with the aroma of gingerbread, stollen, and mulled wine."
And, at the end, when Libby and Dido are waiting for the deposit after the sale of the house, they debate lobster and champagne or sandwiches and soda. Libby "looks again. A stupid number sits there. A number that makes no sense whatsoever. It has too many zeros, too many everythings. She turns her phone to face Dido. 'Oh. My. God.' Dido covers her face with her hands and gasps. Then she turns to face the front of the café. 'Waiter,' she says. 'Two bottles of your finest Dom Pérignon. And thirteen lobsters. And make it snappy'."
But what drove me into the kitchen was this...
"Come on. I’ll make you a delicious breakfast in the morning! I’ve got avocado. That’s what you millennials like, isn’t it?"
I prefer eggs, Miller replied. 'Are you actually a millennial?' Phin asked him, eyes narrowed, slightly bitchy. Just, Miller replied. But I missed the avocado moment.
Well, I am not a millennial, but I love avocado toast. Sometimes I put eggs on top like the photo above. But here's my basic version.
2 slices sourdough
1 to 2 avocados, depending on the size, peeled and sliced
dried chile flakes
organic lemon wedges for serving
olive oil for serving
Toast bread and place on individual serving plates. Cover bread with avocado slices (half an avocado per toast). Sprinkle with flake salt and dried chile flakes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with lemon wedges.
I am adding this to the January #FoodieReads line-up.