Why my heroine is a seafood addict!
“And I will have the salmon capers and the scallop and lobster ravioli,” Sophie announces gleefully when we meet her in one of the first chapters of my rock star romance, Sophie’s Turn. Sophie consumes quite a lot of lobster in the course of the novel, alongside prawns and other assorted crustaceans. A couple of reviewers commented that Sophie’s choices made them positively salivating at the thought of all that lovely food.
And there’s a reason for that. I love seafood, in particular shellfish. Always have done. I don’t often get to indulge, so when I started researching locations for Sophie’s Turn, I discovered that I could live vicariously—through Sophie. What I couldn’t afford on a day-to-day basis, she could consume whenever she wanted, as long as she was with Dan. If that’s not a reason to keep their romance going, what is?
It all started with prawns. When I grew up, prawns were an unknown ingredient in my Mum’s cooking, and as a child I believed that prawns were only something you could get in restaurants. I remember an unforgettable occasion when my then boyfriend’s family took us all out for a fancy meal in an Italian restaurant, and I had a prawn cocktail for starters. The restaurant served this dish in an enormous glass overflowing with fat juicy prawns. Apparently, I was so transported by culinary delight that the host encouraged me to have another one, just to witness my ongoing joy and excitement (needless to say, I didn’t turn it down!).
Prawns remained a luxury item in my life until I started working in London. Young, professional, single, with a flat of her own and a supermarket with a fresh fish counter nearby, I suddenly discovered out of the blue that you can just buy prawns, just like that, whenever they take your fancy. That summer, I had a dish involving prawns four nights every week. Talk about making up for lost time!
Shortly after that, I got more adventurous and ventured into mussels. Most people in my family have had adverse reactions to mussels and I had been advised, in no uncertain terms, that mussels are almost certainly poisonous, possibly deadly, and quite reasonably the food of the devil. Oh no, not so, not for me! I took the plunge, and I love them. Give me a big pot of moules marinière any day, preferably with a nice crisp white wine on the side.
Next to enter my repertoire was the lobster, and I have my now husband to thank for that. The first meal he ever prepared for me involved a starter of lobster, cooked by him in the kitchen of his shared flat. We were only just dating at that time, and he had gone all out on providing a fancy dinner. The lobster was the starter! Blushingly, and just a smidgen embarrassed, I admitted to never having had lobster before. Needless to say, that only heightened his glee at cooking a fancy meal for me. Until the moment arrived when he had to take the lobster out of its shell. Ambitious in taste, sophistication and culinary achievement, my lovely husband had neglected to avail himself of the necessary tools. In the end, a hammer, a chisel and a skewer featured prominently in the undressing of the poor lobster. We’ve had many a lobster since, but we still don’t own the requisite tools (although we have moved on from the hammer-and-chisel solution).
An episode of Masterchef introduced me to scallops. I was intrigued by the recipe of pan-fried scallops on crisped pancetta with wild rocket, promptly tried it at home, and began a love affair that has lasted ever since.
Last but not least, I also discovered crabs. They’re probably my least favourite seafood (apart from squid, which is the one thing I cannot stand!), being somewhat dry and stringy. Yes, I know, I’m a philistine! But I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re either a lobster girl or a crab girl, and I’m definitely a lobster girl. That said, I’m quite partial to a nicely dressed fresh-crab sandwich (on white, if you please) with a crisp salad and a nice cold glass of wine.
Believe it or not, there is an occasion where I managed to consume all of the above (and more) in one single meal. My husband and I spent a week in Brittany and we had been recommended this local restaurant that apparently did a nice line in fish. Of course we were off in a flash to go explore. We found the L’Auberge but would never have ventured inside, had we not been assured it was a bona fide restaurant, not a roadside truck driver’s hangout. Inside, it was all starched white linen cloths and silver service. With us being on a sort of belated honeymoon and this being the highlight meal of the trip, we treated ourselves to the five-course meal à la carte. I had curried scallops for starters (the best I ever had, ever!), followed by langoustines, followed by a fish whose name I can’t recall (it having been in French), followed by another fish ditto, followed by lobster. The staff were scandalised at this excessively fishy order—one was supposed to have some sort of meat course, as well, but we didn’t care. Of course what we didn’t know was that there would be an amuse-bouche between every course: tiny dishes of fishy delicacies.
You reckon I was fished out? You reckon it was too much? Oh no, you couldn’t be more wrong. Never mind the locals’ reactions, this dinner ranks hands down as one of the most amazing meals I ever had in my entire life. I just hope that when we get to go back sometime in the dim and distant future the restaurant will still be there.
And now you know why Sophie eats so much seafood!
About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!
Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door. Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters (told ya!). When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and teaching assistant. Nicky is also a featured author and editor with the innovative reader/author project, loveahappyending.com.
Originally born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993, and currently lives in Bristol with her husband and their two boys. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.
Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress, the second and third parts of the Rock Star Romance Trilogy. You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook.
About Sophie’s Turn—Coming from Sapphire Star Publishing on 6 September 2012!
One fine day in Paris, Sophie Penhalligan suddenly finds herself engaged to her teenage crush and love-of-her-life-from-a-distance, rock singer and star extraordinaire Dan Hunter. But there is the small matter of her very recent, but very prior, engagement to Tim. Reliable, honest, trusting Tim, her boyfriend of two years stashed away safely in his mews house in South Kensington while Sophie is drinking rather too much champagne with Dan in Paris. This contemporary romantic fairy tale describes how Sophie gets into her impossible situation and how she turns it around.