Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Guest post by Krista D. Ball + Giveaway

Today I have a guest and a book not like any other. Krista D. Ball stops by to tell us more about her latest release: What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank: A Fantasy Lover's Guide to Food, a fantasy lover's food guide! Please give her a warm welcome and read on, I'm sure you'll discover some things you didn't know before... (and of course there is a giveaway as well at the end ;-)

In 2011, I was asked to write an unique kind of writer's guide: one that helps writers, appeals to readers, and is historically-based. It was a tall order, as how can a writer's guide appeal to people who never have any interest in writing? What came from those initial thoughts was my current non-fiction book, What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank: A Fantasy Lover's Guide to Food.

What Kings Ate is written for writers, but chats away at readers who love historical romance, historical fiction, steampunk, and epic fantasy. In the pages, we learn how our favourite heroines would feed herself while on the run, and what food gifts a hero could give his poor lady friend.

One of the fun parts about researching a book like this is the “helpful tips” you come across in period books. How to soak a salted cow tongue, the best ways to cook pig testicles (split them, turn them inside out, give them a bit of a boil, and add some butter *shudder*), and how to keep your servants from stealing from you.

It’s impossible to narrow down a favourite tip from all of my research, but I came across some very interesting advice.

To choose Butter at Market

Put a knife into the butter if salt, and smell it when drawn out; if there is any thing rancid or unpleasant, it is bad…Fresh butter ought to smell like a nosegay, and be of an equal colour all through: if sour in smell it has not been sufficiently washed; if veiny and open, it is probably mixed with staler or an inferior sort.

I’m so happy that all I need to do these days is head down to the local Sobey’s and buy a foil-wrapped block of butter. No smelling knives necessary.

Or, what about eggs? Today, eggs are battery-farmed. We already have access to eggs. Even for those of us who don’t buy that particular kind of egg and get free-range farm eggs, we generally are able to find plenty. When modern transportation and refrigeration doesn’t exist, eggs need to be preserved so that they don’t go bad:

How to preserve an egg?

Combine 2 lbs of lime [calcium oxide, not the fruit] with 5 gallons of water. Let the chemicals react for ten days, stirring every morning. Once the chemical process was finished, wipe clean eggs and add to the solution. Eggs could be added at any time and would store for several months.

I also learned about things like sugar. I always knew sugar was expensive in medieval Europe, but I didn’t quite understand how expensive. A one pound loaf of sugar cost about 2 shillings on average in London in the 13th century. It’s often difficult to translate money from different eras; technologies and economies in the modern world are very different than that of previous times.

To put this cost into perspective, here is what 2 shillings could buy instead:

· 24 dozen eggs
· 6 chickens
· 1 pig
· 20lbs cheese

Wow! You really would need to be rich to afford sugar at those prices.

Canadian author Krista D. Ball combines her love of the fantastical, an obsession with pottage, and a history degree from Mount Allison University to bring fantasy writers and food lovers a new and unique reference guide.

Krista was born and raised in Deer Lake, Newfoundland, where she learned how to use a chainsaw, chop wood,and make raspberry jam. After obtaining a B.A. in British History from Mount Allison University, Krista moved to Edmonton, AB where she currently lives. Somehow, she’s picked up an engineer, two kids, six cats, and a very understanding corgi off ebay. Her credit card has been since taken away. Like any good writer, Krista has had an eclectic array of jobs throughout her life, including strawberry picker, pub bathroom cleaner, oil spill cleaner upper and soup-kitchen coordinator.

You can find her causing trouble at




A Fantasy Lover's Food Guide

Equal parts writer’s guide, comedy, and historical cookbook, fantasy author Krista D. Ball takes readers on a journey into the depths of epic fantasy’s obsession with rabbit stew and teaches them how to catch the blasted creatures, how to move armies across enemy territories without anyone starving to death, and what a medieval pantry should look like when your heroine is seducing the hero.


Learn how long to cook a salted cow tongue, how best to serve salt fish, what a “brewis” is (hint: it isn’t beer), how an airship captain would make breakfast, how to preserve just about anything, and why those dairy maids all have ample hips.

What Kings Ate will give writers of historical and fantastical genres the tools to create new conflicts in their stories, as well as add authenticity to their worlds, all the while giving food history lovers a taste of the past with original recipes and historical notes. Read an excerpt

GIVEAWAY RULES:

Krista has generously offered an ebook copy of What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank to a  lucky reader!


To be entered just leave a comment answering Krista's question: Does your family have any strange or different food habits? Also, if you have any questions about the research from the book, feel free to ask!

The giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 7 December 2012!

Good luck!

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