Edith here, busier than heck, but not too busy to welcome Leslie Karst! Leslie and I met when we roomed together at Left Coast Crime in Monterey, California a couple of years ago. We’d only known each other online previously, but in person we learned we both had a taste for a spot of whiskey and good conversation. I am SO thrilled her debut mystery is coming out, and she’s giving away a hardcover copy to one commenter today.The story is set in Santa Cruz, California – where I almost went to college – and when I read an advance copy, I was able to unreservedly give it a glowing endorsement:
“You won’t want to push away this delicious plate of mystery from debut author Leslie Karst. And you’ll be Dying for a Taste of sleuth Sally Solari’s family’s cooking, both Italian and Polynesian. Don’t read while hungry!”
Here’s what the book’s about: After losing her mother to cancer, Sally Solari quits her job as an attorney to help her dad run his old-style Italian eatery in Santa Cruz, California. But managing the front of the house is far from her dream job of being a real cook.
Then her Aunt Letta is found murdered at Gauguin, Letta’s swank Polynesian-French restaurant, and Sally is the only one who can keep the place afloat. When the Gauguin sous chef is accused of the crime, however, Sally is forced to delve into the unfamiliar world of organic food, sustainable farming, and animal rights activists—not to mention a few family secrets—to help clear his name and catch the true culprit before her timer runs out.
Take it away, Leslie!
Food Revolution or Food Fad?
Santa Cruz, California—my home town, as well as that of my protagonist, Sally Solari—is probably best known for two quite different things: its historic roller coaster (take a ride on it here https://beachboardwalk.com/Giant-Dipper !), and its high population of hippies and
The juxtaposition of these contrasting cultures—as played out on the food scene—provides the backdrop for my culinary mystery, Dying for a Taste. Sally, who practically grew up in the kitchen of her family’s old-school Italian eatery, knows little about the “food revolution” that has recently descended upon her sleepy seaside resort town. But when her aunt is found murdered at her trendy restaurant and the sous chef is accused of the crime, she is thrown into the unfamiliar world of organic farming and animal rights activists in her quest to find the true killer.
This plot line stems from beliefs that are dear to my heart. I’ve long been a proponent of sustainable and humane food practices, and do my best to buy pastured meat, sustainable fish, and local produce when I can. But at the same time, I’m well aware that
aspects of the current food movement could be seen as completely unrealistic, or just another food fad. There are, no doubt, those out there for whom buying local and organic food is merely a status symbol—rather like owning a Versace purse.
And let’s face it: Most folks couldn’t become pure locavores no matter how much they wanted to (try getting “local” citrus or bananas in New England, for example, or “local” coffee or maple syrup in California). And for countless inner-city residents, finding fresh vegetables at all—not to mention organic ones—is a near impossibility.
That said, I don’t think we should simply dismiss the change that is now occurring around the world in how we look at food. For the last fifty years (I’d date it from the advent of the TV dinner) we, as a society, have become disconnected from what we eat. We haven’t known—or cared—where it came from or how it was produced, being under the thrall of the convenience and cheapness caused by its mass-production. We have no idea what it took to produce that dollar meal cheese-burger, and it would require a chemist to translate the dozens of artificial ingredients that are in that “shake” (they can’t call them milkshakes, because they contain no milk).
But lately people seem to be waking up. Once more they’re starting to see the connection
between the foods they consume and the health of themselves and the planet. Just five years ago, for instance, I had a hard time finding eggs from pastured hens in Santa Cruz; now Safeway carries them.
And Walmart is selling organic foods, a sure sign that even “middle America” has become concerned with the amount of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and herbicides in our food.
Fad or not, I see these as good signs.
Readers: What are your views of the “food movement”? How much is fad and how much is true concern for the health of people and our planet? What do you think of Walmart and other giant corporations jumping on the organic/sustainable food bandwagon? Remember, Leslie is giving away a hardcover copy to one commenter!
Leslie Karst is the author of the culinary mystery, Dying for a Taste, the first of the Sally Solari Mystery series (Crooked Lane Books). A former research and appellate attorney, Leslie now spends her days cooking, gardening, reading, cycling, singing alto in the local community chorus, and of course writing. She and her wife, Robin, and their Jack Russell mix, Ziggy, split their time between Santa Cruz, California and Hilo, Hawai‘i. Visit her at Leslie Karst Author http://www.lesliekarstauthor.com/ for more.