Smore-tastophe

1280px-Smores-MicrowaveA few weeks ago the lovely Alysha nominated me for a Liebster award and she seems to be using it as a tool to analyse my entire personality from a single question: “Favourite element of a smore?” Well analyse this, Alysha: I’ve never had a smore.

The smore is a foreign concept here in Australia. It’s almost mythical, like mountain lions and Denny’s.  Sure, you hear about it on TV, but to actually experience it is unheard of.

But Alysha helped me realise something. It turns out anyone can have a smore. They aren’t magical. You don’t need to assemble one in a cemetery under the light of a blue moon on a Friday the 13th. All you need is a microwave.

I had a vague idea of how to assemble a smore (thank you Mary-Kate & Ashley in Getting There) but I really needed to do some research. And boy did I research. I watched five different Youtube videos so I think it’s safe to say I’m expert in the field. Does anyone know if they offer PhDs in smore-making?

There are three components to a smore.

digestives1. Biscuits: The videos all talk about brands of biscuits we don’t have. I have no idea what the equivalent was supposed to be, so I worked with what I had: Digestives. They’re delicious, so where could it possibly go wrong?

2. Marshmallows: There’s only one brand of marshmallows in Australia. I never realised it before but when you say ‘marshmallow’, every person in this country will be picturing the same bag of sugary goodness (yes, there’s specialty marshmallow makers but if you can’t buy them at the supermarket I consider them non-existent). Every house also seems to own a bag. When did marshmallows become a household staple along with bread and milk?

3. Chocolate: I didn’t know smores had chocolate. That was an unexpected curveball. Normal chocolate doesn’t melt – it would be a disaster during 40°C summers – and I wasn’t going to make aspecial trip to the shop just to buy melting chocolate. So again, I worked with what I had: chocolate digestives. They’ve got chocolate on one side. It’s like skipping a step. I think the Digestives makers were thinking of smores when they made them.

You don’t need a campfire, bonfire, bushfire or any kind of fire to make smores. All you need is a microwave.  Take one biscuit (chocolate-side up) and stick one marshmallow on top. Stick it in the microwave. The marshmallow blows up like a balloon! I know this is general knowledge, but I have never actually experienced the excitement before. I’d also never experienced the emotional pain of seeing it collapse down into nothing once the microwave has stopped.

The result of this process is a slightly warmed biscuit with an extremely flat marshmallow on top. It doesn’t look remotely appetising. In fact it looks like the culinary equivalent of depression, but I’d waited 22 years to get to this point. I wasn’t turning back now.

I placed another biscuit on top. The poor marshmallow was now squashed completely. I had to eat him to let him out of his misery. I took one bite…

Disappointment. That’s what smores taste like. Pure disappointment. Twenty-two years of my life I had been hearing hyped-up claims that smores were a delicious piece of heaven. Well frankly I could go another 22 years without a smore.

The biscuits were both different temperatures. Whose idea was that? The marshmallow was stringy, and somehow it left its sugary deliciousness behind in the microwave. The chocolate burned my mouth.

So, Alysha, you know what my favourite part of the smore was? The end.

I’m ready to stand up and say I don’t understand smores. I don’t get the hype. I don’t get the obsession. I don’t like them. Am I alone in this? Or have I dared to speak a common, but hidden, opinion? Did I make a fatal mistake in the smore-making process?

Tapping my heels together won’t cut it

Musing Monday highlighterMusing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading.  Anyone can join in!


“This is a work of fiction. Still, given an infinite number of possible worlds, it must be true on one of them. And if a story set in an infinite number of possible worlds is true in one of them, then it must be true in all of them. So maybe, it’s not as fictional as we think.” 
― Neil Gaiman (InterWorld)

Last week I wrote about four real book locations on my to-visit list. This week, I’m sharing four fictional places that I will only ever be able to dream about.

Hogsmeade
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling

Hogsmeade

Hogsmeade

A small, quaint village. A bustling, but not overcrowded, shopping street (unless the Hogwarts students are out). I can imagine myself on a winter’s day, marching through the snow, stopping off at Dervish and Banges to peruse their magical items and sending a postcard from the owl-filled post office. After some fun at Zonko’s joke shop and sweet from Honeydukes, I’d start feeling the cold right to my bones – so off to The Three Broomsticks for some warm butterbeer. And no trip to Hogsmeade would be complete without a browse of Tomes and Scrolls, a bookstore, or the Shrieking Shack (even if it’s not-so haunted anymore).

Interworld
Interworld – Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves

“Geometric shapes rolled and tumbled, changing into different forms or merging into one another; colours pulsed; the air carried the scents of honey, turpentine, roses… It was like a 3-D collaboration between Salvador Dali, Picasso, and Jackson Pollock. With a liberal dose of Hieronymus Bosch and the really cool old Warner Bros. cartoons thrown in for good measure.”
Interworld is the space between different places of reality. While many authors choose to describe this space as an empty abyss, the author of Interworld take the extreme opposite view – Interworld is a place outside the rules of our three-dimensional world. It’s indescribable (unless you’re Neil Gaiman or Michael Reaves who do a superb job). It’s impossible. But I have to experience it.

Idris
City of Glass – Cassandra Clare

The shadowhunters’ home country, nestled somewhere in Europe, hidden from mundanes. The country is all forest and plains, with a natural beauty rare on Earth. And in the centre of the country: Alicante, the capital. A city made of a glass-like material that repels demons. Shadowhunters raised in this country yearn to go back. It would be a magical place to visit.

Magrathea
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

magratheaThe planet-making factory. Magrathea is a planet, and the Magratheans have one business: luxury planet building. They hand-carved Earth’s coastlines and raised the mountains. The enormity of a planet-building operation is more than my brain an comprehend. To see it first hand would be incredible.

Which magical worlds do you wish you could visit?

 

The Real Fictional World

Musing Monday highlighterMusing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading.  Anyone can join in!


To be lost inside a book is a magical thing.  You come out gasping at the end as if you haven’t taken a single breath since you started.  It’s in these moments, when you’re completely submerged, that you travel to a different place.  Whether it’s a city on the other side of the world, or an entirely different universe, you find yourself walking down the street or running through the wilderness with the characters.  But the sad fact of the matter is that books end (we might try to deny it but it keeps happening), and you’re ripped from the world.  It’s not just that the book is over – it’s that that particular world has ended.  It is then that I have a single thought: I have to go back there.

Sometimes real, sometimes fictional – it doesn’t make a real difference. I want to go back.  I need to go back.  I love travelling anywhere, but there are many places I want to visit to not only re-immerse myself in the book, but to place the story in a larger world.  Life goes on outside our character’s stories.  I want to see it.

This week I’ll be sharing four real places that made it to my to-visit list after reading a book.  Next week: the fictional places.

Marrakech
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

The hustle and bustle of a Marrakech market – the sounds, the smells, the flavours.  Karou was a regular visitor to Marrakech, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the city as she described her journey through the unnavigable alleys of aromatic spices.

Prague
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Karou and Akiva fly up to the highest point in Prague (by memory I think it was a clocktower) and look out over the rooftops of Prague.  The image of those two – an angel with fiery wings sitting with a blue-haired human girl – looking down in the freezing wind as the sun set over Prague was enchanting.  I know getting to that particular rooftop is probably not likely (as of yet I haven’t learned to fly) but I’m sure there’s a rooftop somewhere in Prague waiting for me.

Hampstead Heath, London
Fated – Benedict Jacka

Arachne’s lair. As you may have guessed from her name, Arachne is a giant, English-speaking, arachnid who just happens to be a skilled dressmaker (eight limbs makes it easier). As the last of her kind, she hides away in a hidden lair under Hampstead Heath in London. The Heath is an eerie, wild forest that sound like the perfect location for some spooky ghost stories.

“The Heath is the wildest of London’s parks.  During the day it’s easy not to notice, but at night, when the rolling hills blot out the lights of the city, leaving the park in utter darkness, when the branches and undergrowth rustle and whisper in the silence, when the forest itself seems to be watching and waiting . . .”

Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

Flying_lesson_with_Madam_HoochOk, so it’s not Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but they filmed Madam Hooch’s flying lessons outside Alnwick castle which is exactly how I imagined Hogwarts when I read it.  I’d love to run across the grass wearing my Gryffindor scarf and waving my magic wand (both of which I have). You’re never too old for a game of pretend.

Which real locations are on your to-travel list thanks to your favourite books? Which ones have you already travelled to?

Better than Old Friends

 

Musing Monday

Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading.  Anyone can join in!


“With so many great new stories out there just waiting to be cracked open, why waste time going back to one I’ve already experienced?” – Susan @ Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

I read this post recently and the idea of never re-reading a book actually stopped me in my tracks.  For I am a serial re-reader. I’ve re-read almost every book on my shelf, many multiple times.

The record holder would have to be Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  I have easily it read at least 10 times, probably many more.  (While writing this, I stopped to imagine someone only reading Harry Potter once and… ERROR: does not compute)

I understand the arguments against re-reading – there really are too many books for one lifetime – but if you’re going to read a book, don’t you want to really read it?

These are the reasons I re-read:

 Signposting

clues ahead signpostYou know when you get to the end of the book, or even a plot twist in the middle and you have one of those moments—ranging from a quick gasp to a full-blown throw-the-book-across-the-room-and-scream fit—where everything falls into place (or falls apart).  Well a good author will have left clues on the way, little signposts that you didn’t pick up the first time.  When you go back and re-read, you’ll find them.  Reread Harry Potter sometime.  All seven books, from beginning to end in one go.  My eyes never opened wider than the day I realised J.K. Rowling had planned all 7 novels from day one.

Find more details

You already know the characters and the story.  You know what’s going to happen.  So there’s no reason to rush.  Read every word, appreciate the writing, find the things you missed.  You missed something the first time round—a character’s habit, a beautiful passage, a sneaky quip.  It’s time to go back and pick it up.

“…the reader who plucks a book from her shelf only once is as deprived as the listener who, after attending a single performance of a Beethoven symphony, never hears it again.” ― Anne Fadiman, Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love

I’ve changed

Books might not change but that doesn’t mean you don’t.  Once upon a time I could have swept away by the shallowest of romantic stories (Twilight), but then I changed.  I pay less attention to the romance and more attention to the story, and sometimes I realise it’s lacking one (Twilight), but sometimes I realise it’s a pretty good one.

“A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.” ― Robertson Davies

No touchies.

It’s a great excuse to buy books

“Why can’t you just borrow it from the library?” I’m often asked.  Because I’m going to read it again. And maybe again. There’s also a little bit of I don’t want to give it back! Don’t take it away from me!

I like it

Picking up that same book again is comfortable. It’s friendly, it’s fun and it’s enjoyable.  It’s my security blanket.  Why do you keep listening to that song? Because it’s a damn good song – it’s catchy, it’s familiar and you like it.  I re-read books because I get to go on that adventure all over again. I may know what will happen but the characters don’t, and that makes it all the more exciting.

“My favorite thing in the world to do is read a book. I read Heidi, which I love, then I read another book, then I read Heidi again. If I stopped reading Heidi in between the other books, I’d be able to read twice as many books, but the thing is I like reading Heidi. So I do.” ― Mindy Warshaw Skolsky, Love from Your Friend, Hannah

So what about you? Do you read books until they fall apart? Or are you a one-time reader?

If you are a one-time reader, I beg this of you: go sit on the floor in front of your bookshelves.  Pick up the books, especially the ones you loved most, and flick through them.  Read random passages.  Give them a good sniff.  Report back to me.  Felt pretty good didn’t it?