Monday, January 30, 2012

Toastworthy Teens: Shanoah Washington

Shanoah Washington, Sista 2 Sista

Shanoah Washington got lucky; she was able to escape a childhood of gang violence when her grandmother moved her to Florida and enrolled her in the St. Petersburg Boys & Girls Club. 

But that’s where luck ended and the 18-year-old powerhouse’s strength and will took charge. Her involvement with the club not only enabled her to express herself through slam poetry, but also to evolve as a leader (including recognition as Youth of the Year for 2010 and 2011) and eventually start Sista2Sista, a mentoring program for girls. 

Knowing their struggles firsthand, Shanoah works with the girls every day and holds weekly meetings to teach life skills and bring in guest speakers, her main objective being for each girl to develop the leadership, social, and communication skills she needs to succeed. Just like Shanoah. ;)
See Shanoah perform here:

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Friday, January 27, 2012

FOODFIC: The Wide-Awake Princess - E.D. Baker

This 8th book in a series that began with The Frog Princess (on which the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog is based) takes a new slant on my childhood favorite princess tale, Sleeping Beauty. The wide-awake princess is, in fact, S.B.’s younger sister Annabelle, whose parents are so desperate to prevent another curse on their second child that they call in a favorite fairy godmother for a preemptive, pre-christening strike. Annabelle is blessed/cursed by a protective spell that ensures she cannot be touched by any magic, good or bad. She will thus be forever safe from magical harm, but will also be “without magic to make her beautiful or graceful or sweet.” 

My reaction (after Ooh, this is gonna be good):
Does this mean she’ll get to eat? Because the only princess I remember taking a bite of anything was Snow White, and we all know where that apple got her.

So yes, Annie does eat; ham is one of the things she packs when she flees the castle before the rapidly growing enchanted roses can entomb her with the rest of the cursed, sleeping court. Her heroic flight also reveals to her those responsible for planting the treacherous spinning wheel; Annie finds them in the woods just beyond the secret passage she cleverly navigates to escape. She’s drawn by the smell of cooking bacon to the trio made obviously rotten as soon as one said, “I likes it limp, not that burnt stuff you always make.”  Nobody of sound mind (or mouth) chooses gummy bacon; might as well run up a red flag emblazoned with a “B” for bad right on it.

Baker also gives a nod to another classic fairy tale with Granny Bentbone and her gingerbread cottage, but that’s not the witty allusion/sub-plot that grabbed my sense of taste, either. 

 No, I was most struck by the fairy Sweetness N Light, master of the Garden of Happiness and bestower of the protective spell that merely put Sleeping Beauty to sleep instead of to death. Annie must find her to learn how to shorten the 100-year slumber to have any hope of actually seeing her family again in her mortal lifetime. 

Now, are you thinking the same thing I did? That Sweetness N Light looks an awful like Sweet N Low? Well, if you weren’t before, I bet you are now :) The thing is, it’s not a completely ridiculous association, because the fairy is a bit too sweet, a bit fake, and leaves an odd taste in your mouth – not wholly unlike the contents of those little pink packets. Was this the author’s intention? With all the thought put into the rest of the names, places, and descriptions, it very well could be…

Monday, January 23, 2012

Toastworthy Teens: Matt Kelly

 Matt Kelly, Toys for C.H.O.P.

Matt Kelly spent much of his childhood as a CHOP (Children’s Hopsital Of Philadephia) patient due to  rare blood disorder and, since he remembers the joy of receiving a toy as a child patient, as he got older he knew he wanted to do the same for other kids. 

So Matt, who says, “I’ve been on the receiving end and now it’s great to give back,” organized not only his friends, family, and classmates, but also complete strangers to collect 300 toys and several hundred dollars for the hospital.  His post requesting new and unwrapped gifts on Facebook and Patch reached even out-of-state donors, and Matt hopes to continue enriching the lives of CHOP patients in the coming year.

I’m sure he will ;)

See his story here:

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Friday, January 20, 2012

FOODFIC: The Giver - Lois Lowry

The Giver generously begins giving right away with a meal on page 5 – the evening meal to be precise: the third of the daily scheduled trifecta which also includes the morning meal and midday meal. Right, so if I sound like I’m harping on the terminology a bit, it’s only because the titles are the ONLY description of food we get in this book. Ever. *sigh*

So back to the opening meal, which in this case is the perfect scene to introduce the dystopia that 11-year-old Jonas calls life. It’s seemingly idyllic at first: the entire family sits down together to eat and talk about their day, taking turns and sharing feelings, but it’s clearly more Robots-meets-Beaver-Cleaver than real family happiness. (And no, it’s not just because nobody will tell me what they’re eating that has me so dissatisfied.) 

Beyond the meal etiquette, we also learn about the community (or communism-ity; tomato/tomahto) and how it evolved from a quest for “Sameness.” Jonas’s society is built on not only same behavior/attitude/lifestyle, but a standard of absolute sameness that extends to even the physical landscape (there are no more geographic features like mountains or even hills) and the seasons (or weather of any kind – no snow, rain, or even sunshine). 

It could go without saying – but I’m still going to say it – that there are no flavors in any sense of the word, which is why the obvious catalyst for change is a hunger by one character for newness, variety, elsewhere. Unfortunately, just when we’re starting to taste that same desire, the book ends. Or, rather, the writing stops, but there is no end to the story. Yet, as much as I personally dislike an interpretive finish, I get the idea behind it – to leave readers with some food for thought, as you will. 

What struck me wasn’t so much the detail-less ending, but the detail-less throughout. We were given specifics on intangibles like class schedules and job titles, but never for concrete items such as, well, food. To slip in a phrase of what was on the table at that opening meal (e.g. “Jonas said, reaching for a round roll”) or to say what they feed Gabriel (the newchild that Father brings home from the Nurturing Center because he needs extra attention) would’ve given us something real to anchor this fictional world that is full of ideas and concepts and apparently nothing else. 

Yes, I could use my imagination to visualize anything from a traditional meat-and-potatoes meal, to a bowl of mushy “sameness” (ala Cream of Wheat), to a futuristic nutrient shake or even a perfect pill. But I don’t want to guess; I want to know. All I needed were a few scraps, morsels, crumbs along the way so that that open ending would’ve left me merely hungry and not downright starving.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Toastworthy Teens: Christa Fairclough

 Christa Fairclough, Lifesaver

Christa Fairclough was in the middle of a game at her local bowling alley with her mother and little cousin when a 75-year-old man collapsed in the lane next to them. 

The 16-year-old heroine, who was the first person to see the man was in trouble, sprang into action and began performing CPR while her mom ran for help and employees called 9-1-1.  

Ironically, Christa’d just learned the 2 breaths-30 compressions-repeat cycle 3 days before in her New Jersey high school, but thought, “If this ever happened in real life, I probably would not know what to do.”

Oh, yeah, she did ;) 
And you have what it takes to be an everyday hero like Christa, too! Find a CPR course near you: 

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Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Back Andrew Carlson, Author of Sue's Fingerprint & the Upcoming Sequel, Sue's Vision

Last time I posted here on BWATE a few weeks ago (, I wrote about the individual discovery of food that the clones experienced in Sue’s Fingerprint.  Being new people, transformed from an alien substance with no prior memories or experiences, they each had to discover what foods they liked and didn’t like.  They didn’t have years of experience from their childhood to choose their preferred diet.

Food also plays an important role for the collective group of clones in Sue’s Fingerprint and the soon-to-be-released sequel, Sue’s Vision.  Food is the focal point for receiving messages.

When contained by DHS on the unused military base, meals were the reason to come together, whether it was breakfast at Sue’s house or group dinners in the Base Exchange.  And when the clones got together, they shared information and learned more about themselves and society.  Their individual and collective development as humans was focused around meals.  After the clones were released by Ted Stevens and started living on their own, getting together for meals remained the focal point for living and learning.

But being together for meals also became an antenna for receiving messages that were hidden in the alien substance from which they were cloned.

During one group dinner of Sue’s baked chicken and cheesy garlic potatoes at the base, conversation between the clones and the staff turned to a discussion of the planet.  It was during this conversation that the clones received a message from an alien species—the same species that sent the ‘goo’ to Earth.  It was Sue who decided to act on the message and she escaped the base to deliver it.  She returned to her original home in Kansas to inform her ‘family’ that she and the other clones are the lasting memory of the alien species that went extinct when their planet died.  The ‘goo’ was sent by the aliens to preserve their memory.  It was this message and the clones’ intentions to carry the memory for the extinct species that led Ted to decide to release the clones from containment.

And after being released from the base, the clones continue to be receivers for messages when they come together for meals.  Sitting in Sue’s yard for a summer cook-out during a reunion of clones and friends, the clones learn that they can read and write a new alien language.  Embracing the new message, they decide to act to bring about change.  (You’ll have to wait for the sequel to find out how.)

What are they eating?  The clones are eating new foods to see what they like.  And no matter what they’re eating, when they get together, the clones are receivers for alien messages.

Please buy a copy Sue’s Fingerprint to meet the clones and read all the things that happen when the clones ‘arrive’ on Earth.  And stay tuned for the continuing story, Sue’s Vision!

Thank you, again, Shelley, for the opportunity to post a second guest blog here on But What Are They Eating!  I wish you all the best for your Solid series!  I can’t wait for the threequel, Sound!

Thanks for coming back with more food for thought, Andrew!

You can find Andrew at:

And Sue's Fingerprint at:

Dreaming of Books GIVEAWAY HOP!

This hop, organized by Martha's Bookshelf and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, features over 200 (!) participating blogs offering book-related giveaways! We're all linked up together so you can hop easily from one giveaway to another; see the full list here: Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop.

Winner here at BWATE? gets a Signed Copy of either:
 "Solid" (Solid Series Book #1) or "Settling" (Solid #2)

To enter to win, just follow this blog and leave a comment/question,
along with a way to contact you.

Optional Extra Entries:
+1 Follow on Twitter
+1 Like Solid Series on Facebook 
+1 Add series to your to-read list on Goodreads

Giveaway runs from Jan. 13th to Jan. 18th; last day to enter is Wed., Jan. 18th.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Toastworthy Teens: Jared Thompson

Jared Thompson, Creator of Me-'N-U

High-school junior Jared Thompson wanted to figure out a way to do something meaningful to help people in his area – specifically those who may not always have a hot meal to eat. So he and a group of hardworking kids and adults from his Indianan community spent the last year organizing a free weekly meal program called Me-‘N-U. Anyone is welcome to stop in for a free hot meal served in the relaxed, sit-down atmosphere that Jared’s team created “to make it as simple for them and as easy for them as we possibly can.”

Jared finds his work “rejuvenating” and wants other like-minded kids to know that if they have the desire to help but not necessarily the means to bring their projects to life by themselves, they just need to take that first step and reach out to others. He says, “I just had an idea, and then I went in front of the church and said, Can we do this? I think we can.” And he was right ;)

Meet Jared here:

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

FOODFIC: The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3) - James Dashner

The final book of the Maze Runner trilogy finds Thomas (the series hero) in total isolation. He’s in a padded room devoid of color with a stainless-steel toilet in the corner. He’s been there for three weeks, actually, though he has no watch to track the time, nor does he have any books, movies, or games. He’s even served the exact same meal three times a day – slab of ham, mashed potatoes, raw carrots, slice of bread, water, but we’re told that even that doesn’t bother him.

Hard to believe anyone could complacently accept such a repetitive meal regimen, let alone a teenage boy. Of course, Thomas isn’t exactly average; he’s survived both the Maze and the Scorch, and we also know from the first two books that he’s not only critical to the trials that will supposedly save the human race, but that he even had a hand in designing them. Despite the ambiguity of his current role/status within the organization, the diet they’ve prescribed him speaks volumes – protein, vegetable, and starch to cover the nutritional bases, but no variety or seasoning to acknowledge him as anything more than, well, a test subject.

To be fair, the saltiness of the ham makes it probably the best meat choice; everybody likes mashed potatoes; and raw carrots are the least offensive vegetable. But what I find most interesting is how food is the first thing those in power use to manipulate and control people. In our world, international humanitarian law dictates “adequate and nutritious provisions,” which may be many different things depending on what news stories you read and/or believe, but that there even has to be such a food clause in the law is in itself significant. Then, in this story, beyond just the monotonous selection, Thomas (even clock-less) knows the meals don’t seem to come regularly. As if he was meant to feel disoriented.

For me, the message is so clear that it’s almost a spoiler; when Dashner tells us on the first page that such a tried-and-true breaking technique doesn’t work on Thomas, he’s also telling us that Thomas has the power to upend the whole system. Good thing we know it, but WICKED doesn’t ;)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Menu for the New Year!

BWATE? Rolls out a New Menu for 2012!

The exciting new specials now appear in the right-hand column, looking something like this:

With your brain, not your food, of course! Here’s a quick game called Meta-Me, based on an exchange my SOLID heroine Clio has with her mother. Click on the icon for the weekly prompt; it only takes a minute to play, which is perfect to pass the time while you’re waiting for your dinner. :)

No, that’s not a typo; I didn’t mean to write saying or sing, I meant Sayng! Because we need good dinner music, and we all know that whatever you say sounds better in song, so here’s where I’ll feature some lyrics that are as satisfying as their background tunes – in other words, artists who Sayng! 

Then lastly - but far from leastly - I’m also introducing a spot called Toast-worthy Tuesday to celebrate the amazing teens out there who are doing great things. Read their stories, feel inspired, and feed your soul. Your submissions/nominations are welcome!

 And of course I’ll keep serving up my main dish – FOODFIC, my own musings on food in fiction - it'll just move to Friday, where it was always meant to be. And I'll still feature the terrific guest authors who’ve made reservations to post FoodFic takes on their own books.

Bring your appetites, hungry readers –
    it’s going to be a filling year!