Guess what?!? One of my favourite authors, Jacqueline Pearce, has stopped by in the midst of a blog tour to promote her new chapter book, Mystery of the Missing Luck.
You’ll see below that Jacquie wonders why she chose to talk about food on my blog. Well, she’s obviously psychic and can tell that I love Asian bakeries and basically lived off that soft, sweet, white bread for three entire weeks on an exchange trip to Tokyo. (My 15-year-old self did not exactly embrace new cultural experiences.)
Enough about me. Here’s a guest post from Jacquie! (And hey, don’t be shy about leaving a comment and entering Jacquie’s contest. The more comments, the more hospitable I seem!)
Thanks for having me, Tanya! I’m not sure why I felt compelled to talk about the food link to my new story on your blog (perhaps it’s the image of peas, or the homey feel), but here goes…
I love old-fashioned bakeries. When I was a kid, my best friend and I used to walk downtown every Saturday to buy craft supplies and stop at our favourite bakery. It was one of those traditional old bakeries — family-owned, on a street of independent shops, pastries and cookies in the window, bell that jingled when you opened the door. The owner, Mr. Janssen-Steenberg, used to always save me the biggest, best piece of apple strudel (or so he claimed). The bakery in my new chapter book, Mystery of the Missing Luck, is that kind of bakery, but with a slight twist: the baked goods are Japanese.
Bread was actually brought to Japan in the 19th century from Portugal. The Japanese word for bun, “pan,” is from the Portuguese word. Japanese bakers, however, revised the bread recipe to suit Japanese tastes, using a traditional liquid yeast (related to sake-making, I think) and adding fillings such as red bean paste and green tea flavoured cream. Sara, the main character in my story, loves the an-pan (bun filled with red bean paste) her grandmother makes at the bakery. The first time I tasted something made with red bean paste in Japan, I didn’t like it that much, but I’ve developed a taste for it since. And who can resist a bun that has a cartoon character named after it? Anpan Man, the hero with a bun for a head, has been popular in Japan since 1968.
In the previous stop on my blog tour I talked a bit about how I came to write the book, and promised to reveal why someone once graffitied the words “there is no pie in Toronto” on the road in front of my house. It really has nothing to do with my new book, except that by now you may have gathered that I have a sweet tooth, and enjoyed visiting bakeries as part of the research for my story. In my younger years, I developed a reputation for a love of baked goods — particularly pie. The morning I left Vancouver Island to attend university in Toronto, the mysterious “no pie” goodbye was scrawled on the road (luckily, the warning didn’t prove to be accurate). My reputation now is more as a chocolate aficionado, but that’s another story.
Please leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Mystery of the Missing Luck. For some background on the “lucky cat” component of the story, check out my post on the blog of author kc dyer and the Lucky Cat contest on my own blog.