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9780451415103_medium_Diners,_Drive-Ins,_and_Death

CHRISTINE_WENGER-_AUTHOR_PICBy CHRISTINE WENGER

First, let me explain that wild title above.  My series for Penguin/Obsidian Books are all cozy mysteries and each one has a comfort food theme.

You might ask, “Hey, Chris, what is COMFORT FOOD?” “Well, dear reader, it is what I’d like to think of is food or sweets that grandma used to make, or mom used to make, or dad always made, or Joe at the diner makes.  It’s your favorite go-to food when you are feeling low and need some comfort. It’s the way mom makes that sweet potato casserole.  It’s that meatloaf you grew up on.  It’s grandma’s apple pie and now you have the recipe and make it every Thanksgiving for your kids.  And hopefully, one of your kids will make it for their kids.

You might also ask, “Hey, Chris, what’s the setting for your comfort food series?”  Well, dear reader, I picked the perfect setting for my series: a diner!  My character, Trixie Matkowski’s Silver Bullet Diner, located in small town Sandy Harbor, New York, is on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Trixie Matkowski has the same first name as my favorite childhood sleuth, Trixie Belden.  As a kid, you could always find me lying on my bed reading and re-reading Trixie’s adventures. I’d be done with one book, and have the next open so I wouldn’t miss a word.  I’d like to think that Trixie Matkowski is a lot like me.  We have a lot of things in common: love of food and desserts, love of Lake Ontario, small towns, little rental cottages, quirky friends and Polish heritage.

Like Trixie Matkowski, I’ve always been a foodie and love to cook and bake. As for diners, I have my local favorites that have stood the test of time and various owners.  A lot of the old diners, like the Silver Bullet, were fashioned after railroad dining cars.  My grandfather used to work at Onondaga Pottery (which turned into Syracuse China and is now defunct) which made china for various diners, restaurants, and even railroad dining cars.  I have several collectible railroad china pieces, and whenever I use it, I think of where it might have traveled and the dining cars in which it sat.

Friends who have read my books relish in sharing their favorite diners with me.  Oh, the hardship!  Great food and great company.  So, while I should be writing, instead I am eating at various new and old diners.

But my favorite will always be diners like the Silver Bullet, a shiny aluminum establishment from the 1950’s or so, with a grand history and food that comforts.  The smell of coffee permeates the air, and deserts take a ride on a lighted carousel.  The waitresses are friendly and no one rushes you out.

Think of me sitting across from you in a booth with a worn Formica table and red vinyl seats that ergonomically form to my butt.   I’ll be the one eating fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and buttered corn on the side.

“Of course, Nancy, I’d love desert.  I’ll have a cup of thick black coffee with my apple pie.  Definitely, a la mode.  Vanilla ice cream, please!”

 

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