Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What to Eat After the Apocalypse

Jody Casella, author of the forthcoming young adult novel Thin Space, graciously volunteered to join my blog tour. So why is she guest posting on my blog? Well, Savy Valdez from Books with Bite is hosting my blog tour and requested a post about what to eat after the apocalypse. (I told her it should be who to eat after the apocalypse, but that's another story.) So Jody and I both wrote a post--you can see my post on Jody's blog. Anyway, welcome Jody!

Hey Mike, 
Thanks for inviting me to guest post today on the topic: What to Eat in the Wild. I'm a big fan of your books and must tell you that I bow down to your presentation skills as well. I had the great pleasure of attending one of you book signings last year and watched in awe as you karate chopped a cement block in half. I'm fairly certain not many authors can top that!

{Mike: I love breaking stuff. Check out the video from my launch party last year:}

What to Eat after the End

Sometimes I get a little worried about the end of the world. I’ve read a ton of books lately about how it might happen, and oh, there are soooo many horrifying possibilities. In addition to sketchy Mayan Calendar issues, there’s:

1. Nuclear war (THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy)
2. Electromagnetic pulses coupled with flesh eating zombies (ASHES by Ilsa Bick)
3. Designer diseases unleashed upon us by immoral scientists (ORYX and CRAKE by Margaret Atwood and MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin)
4. Attacks by robots AND diseases (PARTIALS by Dan Wells)
5. Global climate change (SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi and AFTER THE SNOW by SD Crockett)
6. Asteroids hitting the moon (LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer)
7. All-purpose natural disasters with a supernatural twist (DARK INSIDE by Jeyn Roberts)
8. The eruption of the allegedly dormant supervolcano lying under Yellowstone (ASHFALL by Mike Mullin)

After reading these novels, I have the distinct impression that it would be kind of scary to live through (and past) Doomsday. If you somehow manage to survive the actual blast, you’ll probably have to cope with brutal, sun-less, Ice-Agey cold weather. You might be attacked by other survivors who are zombies and/or cannibals. You will need guns, antibiotics, and plenty of non-perishable food. 

This could be a problem for me. I don’t like guns. I don’t have a stockpile of medicines. On a good day my cabinets contain a few cans of diced tomatoes, maybe some black beans, and a couple fruit cocktails. Sadly, I only own an electric can opener. Also, I’m just a really picky eater. I don’t see myself, no matter how hungry, digging into say, a can of Spam.

Okay. I am definitely doomed. But perhaps I can help others. When asked to participate on Mike Mullin’s blog tour for ASHEN WINTER, the sequel to ASHFALL, I jumped at the chance. And when given the topic of Post-Apocalyptic food choices, I was intrigued. Are there actual food choices for the hungry survivors of Armegeddon besides dusty cans of Spagettios and Twinkies and, um, Spam?

After reading ASHEN WINTER, though, I can say that yes, there are, and possibly even some choices that a finicky eater like me could stomach.

First, a shout out to Mike Mullin and this series. The first book, ASHFALL is an absorbing, action-filled, page-turner. Be warned. Clear out your schedule before you pick it up. Quick recap: Fifteen year old Alex stays home one weekend while his parents and little sister go off to visit relatives one hundred miles away. Unfortunately this is the weekend that the supervolcano lying under Yellowstone erupts and takes out half the country with it. Alex, who up to this point had been little more than a gamer (with some karate-chopping skills), figures out what he’s made of when he sets out to reunite with his family.

The non-stop action continues in ASHEN WINTER when Alex and mechanically inclined girlfriend Darla attempt another journey, through a bleaker landscape, if that’s possible, and confront pretty much every variation of the worst of human nature.

I stayed up half the night reading this book and got so involved in Alex’s harrowing adventure that I forgot most of the time that I was supposed to be looking for mentions of food. Here’s what came of my extensive research:

Forget stockpiling gold. Instead, hide some kale seed packets under your mattress. I assure you they will be worth much more than gold in an ASHEN WINTER environment. Fun factoids about kale: it grows well in coldish weather and contains a ton of vitamin C (good for dealing with the scurvy that will be rampant in the sunless climate).

I confess that my experience with kale up to this point is when it’s used as a cheery, frilly garnish next to a steak. But kale, apparently, can be eaten. Alex and Darla like to eat it on sandwiches. With ham and cornbread. Also goat cheese. Which sounds like one of your finer gourmet sandwiches. For breakfast Alex’s aunt and uncle scramble duck eggs. With kale. If you’re still not sold on kale, (yet want to counteract the scurvy), you could try dandelion greens. Just saying.

Once Alex found some wheat kernels that seemed inedible as is. He threw them into a pot of melted snow and boiled them for awhile. That didn’t really help either. But the next morning all that soaking of the wheat kernels turned them into something like oatmeal.

I am sure there were other appetizing recipes mentioned in ASHEN WINTER but I missed them due to the total page-turn-ery aspect of the novel. 

Signing off now to stock up my pantry...
--Jody Casella is a writer and fan of YA fiction. You can find her book reviews on her blog On The Verge. Look for her debut novel THIN SPACE (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster) in Sept. 2013.