By Miguel Guerra from Caught Read-Handed, the second book in the Read ’Em and Eat cozy mystery series by Terrie Farley Moran
Hola. I am presently the chef at a great little café and bookshop called the Read ’Em and Eat. It is my dream job but it took me a while to get here. I was born just south of Miami in a village called Palmetto Bay. While I was in Culinary School I put a lot of thought into where I wanted to work. Florida offered so many opportunities. If I worked near Miami and I would be close to my boyhood home, my brother, my sister and a half dozen cousins. Or I could go to Orlando. Great tourist town. Lots of restaurants and hotels. Plus my Aunt Caridad and my favorite cousin Rey both live in the area.
By chance a friend asked me to go with him to interview at a resort hotel in Fort Myers Beach, an island community on the west coast of Florida. The first evening we sat on the deck of our bed and breakfast. I took one look at the sun setting over the Gulf of Mexico and I knew this was where I wanted to spend my life.
I found a job, then another, got a promotion that enabled me to buy a sweet bungalow right on the edge of Estero Bay. I spent my free time surfing and fishing. Life was good but I dreamed about being in command of my own kitchen. Still I didn’t want to have to deal with the responsibilities of owning a restaurant. I thought of going into a partnership with someone who could manage the restaurant while I ran the kitchen but never found the right person.
One day I heard about two women who moved down from New York and were opening a breakfast/lunch café. And they were looking for a chef. That’s how I met Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, owners of the Read ’Em and Eat Café and Bookstore. They challenged me to invent book-themed food to go with the table tops laminated with pictures of authors and snippets of their work. I came up with food with titles Old Man and the Sea Chowder, Green Eggs and Ham, My Secret Garden Salad, and Swiss Family Robinson Cheeseburgers.
What I love about working here is the flexibility on the menu. I can try anything I think the customers will like. Sassy organizes a lot of book club meeting. I especially like the Pot-luck Book Club. I call them foodies because the books they read are always food related. I like to read the book before they meet and surprise them with a snack that matches. At their latest meeting they read a short but fascinating book called Fictitious Dishes. Filled with photographs and vignettes about the food in dozens of novels, it made even me see relationship between food and story in a whole new light.
I bet you don’t think about food when you remember To Kill a Mockingbird or The Talented Mr. Ripley. But it’s there. Fictitious Dishes confirms it.
When it comes to drinks, the Read ’Em and Eat is a coffee and sweet tea kind of place. Once in a while I like to whip up a batch of batidos, Cuban milkshakes made with fruit or juice and sweetened condensed milk. Made with crushed ice, it is the perfect cooler on a hot south Florida day.
Leave a comment and your email addy and you will be entered to win the tee shirt of your choice, Well Read, Then Dead or Caught Read-Handed. Giveaway closes at midnight Tuesday July 14th.