Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Taste of Travel by Cathy Ace

RHYS BOWEN:  Today it's my great pleasure to host fellow Welsh-woman Cathy Ace (well, she has a better claim to Welshness than I as only my mother's side of the family comes from Wales but we Welsh have to stick together). Cathy and I have a lot in common: we both left Britain for a new life in the New World and both love to travel (and eat exotic foods too!) And since she is not good at tooting her own horn, I'm going to do it for her: her series and her stand alone have both been optioned for TV! Yay, Cathy! Dancing up and down wildly.
And I'm going to let her tell you about her heroine's latest adventure that has just come out:

CATHY ACE
Bore da, Rhys!


When I created my Welsh Canadian professor of criminal psychology, Cait Morgan, I gifted her with several of my own characteristics – a love of travel being one, and a love of food being another. Luckily for Cait she inhabits a world different than our reality, and in her most recent adventure she’s enjoying Jamaica in May (so let’s assume the May in the book isn’t May 2020!). I’m delighted I sent Cait to Jamaica when I did – because she had a wonderful time indulging in many local delicacies and solved a truly puzzling locked room mystery.


I’ve always believed you can learn a lot about a culture through its food and drink; the nature and seasonality of locally available ingredients; the impact of incomers with their own favourite flavours, and even utensils, which they bring with them; the type of fuel available for cooking – all these elements play their part in creating “local specialities”. Sometimes I look at an ingredient and wonder who on earth was brave enough to try eating it in the first place – especially when said ingredient turns out to be, essentially, poisonous. 
One such item plays a significant role in THE CORPSE WITH THE CRYSTAL SKULL – ackee. Ackee is a fruit grown in Jamaica which can be highly toxic; only one small part of the fruit is safe to be eaten during one short period of its life-span. (I hate to think how many people fell ill and even died before this was realized – but it does come in handy if you write murder mysteries!) Bammy is another Jamaican speciality that has its challenges – it has to be cooked in just the right way so that it’s not toxic. As for saltfish – well, that might not be toxic, but it needs the correct preparation to be enjoyably edible. And then there are the local Jamaican drinks: rum, of course (though that’s not to my, nor Cait’s, taste) as well as the uniquely-spiced Jamaican ginger beers, and a soda called Ting, which is really only available in Jamaica and has a special grapefruit taste (beware – it’s addictive!).

Cait’s always been a globetrotting sleuth, and, as such, she’s done her fair share of “eating her way around the world”. I’ll happily admit I’ve eaten and drunk everything Cait has (trust me when I say I feel the weight of my responsibility to carry out exhaustive research!) so in each Cait Morgan Mystery, therefore, you don’t just get to travel to a different country, you also get to experience the food and drink of that country alongside Cait (and me). Cait’s most memorable flavours have been the escargots in Nice (The Corpse with the Silver Tongue), the sparkling rose wines of British Columbia (The Corpse with the Golden Nose), sizzling Mexican fajitas (The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb), the indulgence of caviar in Vegas (The Corpse with the Platinum Hair), the satisfaction of Welsh cawl [NOTE: it’s a lamb stew] (The Corpse with the Sapphire Eyes), the dislike of Hawaiian poi (The Corpse with the Diamond Hand), the delight of Dutch fries with mayonnaise (The Corpse with the Garnet Face), and the richness of meat roasted with paprika in a Hungarian butcher’s shop (The Corpse with the Ruby Lips).

Since we can’t travel at this time, I know a lot of folks are recalling past trips of their own, and I wonder what it is that you’ve eaten or drunk in a certain country that – for you – will always be the taste of the place you were visiting. Want to share?


About THE CORPSE WITH THE CRYSTAL SKULL
Welsh Canadian globetrotting sleuth, and professor of criminal psychology, Cait Morgan, is supposed to be “celebrating” her fiftieth birthday in Jamaica with her ex-cop husband Bud Anderson. But when the body of the luxury estate’s owner is discovered locked inside an inaccessible tower, Cait and her fellow guests must work out who might have killed him – even if his murder seems impossible. Could the death of the man who hosted parties in the 1960s attended by Ian Fleming and Noël Coward be somehow linked to treasure the legendary Captain Henry Morgan might have buried at the estate? Or to the mission Bud and his secret service colleagues have been sent to the island to undertake?

Connect with Cathy Ace:
Twitter: @AceCathy

 RHYS:  Here are the details of Cathy's exciting TV deal :


Free@LastTV is the UK production company that makes the hit Agatha Raisin series. They've optioned the Cait Morgan Mysteries to become a series of 90 minute TV movies. The unique atmosphere of each country Cait visits will be brought to the screen. Free@LastTV has also acquired the rights to The Wrong Boy, to be broadcast as a three-part mini-series, in English and Welsh. 

53 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your newest Cait Morgan book, Cathy . . . it’s kind of scary to find out how many foods can be deadly and still be enjoyed [kind of like the fugu that is a delicacy in Japan?]
    I’m definitely looking forward to reading Cait’s newest [and very intriguing-sounding] story.

    I haven’t done much traveling to other countries [almost none, to be honest], but we did go have an opportunity to go to Hawaii and I have to agree with you and Cait about the poi . . . it reminded me of paste . . . .

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    1. Thanks, Joan :-) Yes, you're right about poi...it's (to me!) just like the paste you use to hang wallpaper! Not for me. But I know those who've eaten it since infancy won't have a word spoken against it ;-)

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    2. I should add that my husband and I got married in Hawaii, and everyone who came to the reception brought their own poi...which is the culturally correct thing to do...and I managed to not eat any of it :-)

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  2. Congrats on the new book!

    I've got to admit, I'm not much of an adventurous eater. I've slowly come to realize I'm rather picky in fact. So I'll leave the adventurous eating to you and enjoy it vicariously.

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    1. Bud - Cait's husband in the books - is a pretty "safe" eater...whereas Cait will usually give something a go, even if it's only once. I'll admit there are quite a few things I've only ever tasted once. LOL!

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    2. Yes, but you tasted them. That's more than I can honestly say. (I mean, I could say it, but it would be a lie.)

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    3. You're right, I did...and lived to tell the tale, though sometimes I wondered ;-) LOL!

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  3. The TV deal is so exciting, Cathy!

    Oh, my - foods from past travels. Tigedigena in Mali - peanut stew - over foufou, a polenta-like made from pounded millet or yam. Hunks of roasted meat in a southern Brazilian churrasco. Roasted lamb with lemon and oregano in Thessaloniki and later Metaxca sipped late into the night. Perfect poutine from a little stand in a little Quebec village. Delicious seafood stew in Lisbon with Dao wine. Black-pepper laden Hungarian goulash in Salzberg. Perfectly fresh and beautifully arrayed sushi eaten sitting on a tatami mat in Japan. Little rosy papayas in Burkina Faso and cold beer. Must stop!

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    1. I keep thinking of more! Watching my son cut down a coconut in March on the Puerto Rican eco farm where he lives in and works, then hacking off an end with a machete and giving it to us to drink the sweet water.

      Mango "flowers" in Burkina Faso - a ripe mango half scored into little cubes and turned so they stick out for eating (hard to describe).

      Street fish tacos in Baja California.

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    2. WOW, Edith - that's exactly what I mean. Food can take us back to a street corner, or a fancy restaurant...can conjure a person's face and a specific time in our life. In other words, it can become the essence of what we recall of a time and place. Which is wonderful! And we can replicate it - sometimes - to help with our recollections. Warm sake's one of the easiest you mention ;-) Go for it :-)

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  4. Hi, Kathy! You may not remember, but I'm still grateful you helped me out by keeping my luggage in your room in New Orleans at Bouchercon. Very excited for your TV deal, congratulations!

    Pain au chocolat and espresso--with a square of dark chocolate--says Paris to me. And perfectly simple salads made of the freshest local incredients: lightly dressed mache, grated celeriac with remoulade, and pureed chestnuts for dessert. Aperol spritz at a campo in Venice with my daughter. Cacio e Pepe in Siena. Burgers with lettuce, beetroot and real-sugar ketchup in Australia, also roast kangaroo with plum sauce. Full English breakfast. Goat barbecue in Tanzania with Tangawizi ginger beer. Fresh ceviche in Lima, Peru. Guanabana ice cream in Ecuador. Tiny three-ingredient tacos in Mexico. The cold white asparagus and vanilla soup and Sacher torte in Innsbruck, served with a crisp Gruner Vertliner. Roast chicken with a group of German strangers at a communal table in a beer garden in Munich, with a cold tankard of radler. Cowboy breakfast in Meeteetse, Wyoming, cooked on a big fire.

    Lucky you, Kathy, to help Cait out!

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    1. Eek, sorry I misspelled your name, Cathy! Obviously, a lack of coffee when I wrote that.

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    2. My stepsister is married to a Welshman, and they moved to Wales just before the COVID-19 isolation. We were supposed to be there visiting them, right now. Sigh.

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    3. Of course I remember you, Karen! Hope you're well. I'm also very excited about the TV deal, and it's keeping me focused during lockdown...though maybe I just have a bit too much time to think about it ;-) Time will tell. Your food memories are wonderful, and some of them are making me quite peckish...I might have to break out the ingredients for a full breakfast - for lunch :-) Enjoy all your wonderful "eating around the world" recollections :-)

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  5. Congratulations on the newest release, Cathy. Sounds like a delicious addition to the series.

    Since Cait is in Jamaica, and I lived in a palm frond hut on Six Mile Beach in Negril for three months when I was in college (a long time ago - the beach was empty but for a cow with a bell around its neck in those days and a honeymoon hotel named Tree Tops) I'll add goat curry, Red Stripe beer, bread that tastes like angel food cake, and tiny bananas in hands of 13.

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    1. I love tiny tropical bananas!

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    2. Hello Kait...you're a woman after Cait's heart (and mine) in terms of the goat curry (I LOVE it, and gifted Cait that enjoyment) though I gave the Red Stripe to Bud to drink, while Cait enjoys...no, I won't say here LOL! Cait's rather averse to anything as healthy as fruit, though I personally enjoy the tiny tropical bananas. I hope you enjoy recalling things like bammy and patties with Cait. And as for Six Mile beach having room for a solitary cow these days? Stick to those memories ;-)

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    3. I agree, Cathy. I've been back to Jamaica since my beach stay, but I won't return to Negril. I cherish those memories.

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    4. When a place is lovely, many people want to visit, then it's not as lovely any more...the ultimate paradox! Thanks for the memories x

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  6. Congratulations, Cathy! I've been a huge fan of your books since THE WRONG BOY...
    I love to travel, too. Travel and eat. EAT and travel. So many memories! From long ago, our first summer (hot hot hot) trip to Spain discovering horchata. It's a creamy white, icy drink that tastes like liquid almonds. And back then you could get it all over Madrid. So refreshing.

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    1. Your support of THE WRONG BOY was tremendous, Hallie...I was, and shall always remain grateful for that xx And it's really exciting to now be discussing casting all those wonderful (if flawed!) characters :-) I, too, enjoy happy memories of a specific drink in Spain, but it wasn't horchata, but was a specific wine, which I've never been able to find again! :-( TRYING to find one that tastes similar has been fun, though LOL!

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  7. Multiple congratulations! I look forward to reading and viewing your latest books/productions.

    Food makes travel memories, doesn't it? In Egypt, the wonderful fresh guava and pomegranate juices we were served when we returned from a hot morning crawling around and through the tombs and pyramids. In Ireland, boxty (meat and gravy in a crepe-like pancake) and fresh honeycomb on the breakfast buffet.

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    1. And now I remember buckwheat galettes in Breton!

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    2. Thanks ever so much, Margaret! I have really enjoyed the memories your photos have evoked for me of the times I visited Egypt and Jordan - thank you! - and an ex-boyfriend of mine would make boxty for me (the only thing he could cook LOL!).

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  8. Congratulations, Cathy and welcome to JRW. Your book is going straight onto my TBR list! Delighted to hear of your tv deals. I wonder how long before those productions will be available to us here!

    Falafel from a street cart in Tel Aviv. Shwarma wrapped in flat bread in Greece. Pita anywhere in Israel. Indian food in London (why is it better there?). Tapas in Spain. And Edith, those coconuts, opened and with a straw, only mine was in Hawaii. Any fish restaurant in Hawaii. Any meal in Quebec. Pasta in Italy.
    I am so lucky to have traveled. I am so lucky to now live in a town renowned for its restaurants. Big sigh here. Stay safe and well, everyone.

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    1. Thanks, Judy. So pleased that the idea of the book tempts you! As for when the Tv productions will be available...at the moment everything is still shut down in terms of creating dramas, but there are still lots of "meetings" happening, so that's a good sign. For those of us who have been fortunate enough to travel, I hope we can all take comfort in what we've experienced, and - as you say - even for those who haven't - there are food experiences a-plenty that happen beyond expected borders. The Indian food in London is excellent, and we're fortunate to have many local restaurants here in my neck of the woods where there's great Indian food too...prepared by those for whom it's the food they grew up with and truly understand.

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  9. Cathy, welcome to Jungle Reds! Congratulations on the tv adaptations of your books! And congratulations on your new book. It was wonderful to see you at LCC in Vancouver and I remember you asking me what I thought of the Dowager Duchess in the W.I.S.E. Enquiries mystery series. I love her character. She is spunky. I love that series. My Mom loves both this series and the Cait Morgan series.

    For some strange reason, I am having difficulties finding an ebook version of your books and the ebooks from the library only has a few of your WISE books and the Cait Morgan books. However, I found physical copies of your new book at my local independent bookstore. So I am ordering online from my local independent bookstore.

    Regarding food and drink from my travels, the potato leek ? soup in Austria was wonderful. I never found another like it. The Rosti (similar to hash browns) in the Swiss Alps was yummy! The Kir Royale drink in Paris, France was perfect. I could not find any like it anywhere else.

    Stay safe and well, everyone.

    Diana

    p.s. my 4x gg or her father? was born in Wales.

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    1. Hello Diana, I'm so pleased you and your mum like my lovely character Althea Twyst, Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth (I adore her too!), though I'm sorry to hear you don't seem to be able to find e-versions of my books. They "should" all be available on the e-platforms used by libraries...thank you for taking the time to hunt them down via your local bookstore :-) If you visit my website you'll be able to find all the ISBN numbers for all versions of all the books, which might help. Also, there will be links to each book there. If that doesn't work, please email me directly and I'll do some detective work on your behalf! ace@cathyace.com

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    2. Oops - and here's my website address! http://www.cathyace.com/

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    3. Thank you very much. I am adding your email to my contact list so I can let you know whatever happens.

      I thought of the actress who played Lord Peter Wimsey's mother as the Dowager Duchess from the 1989 version. Though I doubt the actress is still living. She would be over 100 years old by now.

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    4. Thanks for adding me :-) I always had Judi Dench in mind when writing about Althea,, rather than Maggie Smith, but I also love the idea of Pauline Collins being the Dowager, as she has such wonderfully wicked dimples! She's 80 now, like Althea, and was fabulous in Upstairs, Downstairs, and Shirley Valentine, and made me laugh and cry in that wonderful movie "Quartet", which you might have seen (if not, it's worth watching!) She's here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_Collins

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    5. Thanks. I remember Pauline Collins. She was Shirley Valentine ?

      On another note, I checked and it looks like Barnes and Noble Nook is among the ebooks for your book. So is Kobo ? Since I get Apple iBooks, I think I'll order a physical copy from my local indie bookstore.

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    6. Yes, she was Shirley Valentine...talking to her wall! Loved that movie :-) Thanks for checking the e-book platforms; for iBooks (which my husband has) he has an app on his iPad that reads the Kindle format, and he reckons he gets a better selection of books via Kindle than is available to him via just iBooks. I can't say, because I only have a Kindle and a Kobo (sounds complicated, but, here in Canada, e-books from the library could only be read on a Kobo device for a long time...we couldn't get Kindle Fire in Canada for years, now we can, and can access our library system via that). Whilst I always want to support local bookstores, I realize that isn't possible for everyone, so "most" bases are covered for e-books too, though I am not in control of which platforms my publishers choose for my books. I'm so pleased you HAVE a local bookstore that you're able to support, because if we don't support them we'll lose them, which would be awful! Happy reading :-)

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  10. Congratulations, Cathy. My two most memorable dishes come from my time in Puerto Rico. Fried plantain chips (which should come with an addiction warning, but do not) and the seafood paella I had that contained shrimp caught that very morning. So much yum.

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  11. Oh yes, Liz, I know those chips!!! And you're right, they are more than a little addictive, and made me really thirsty ;-)

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  12. Hi Cathy...its KSue
    Couldn't resist adding to all the wonderful posts and reliving through food and drink my travel adventures. In Ecuador it was "Cuy" (roast guinea pig) and Bull penis soup; In Costa Rica their Flan was so good I bought a local cookbook and still enjoy it at home 17 years later and passion fruit smoothies; Russia more kinds of Vodka that you can imagine in one afternoon (haven't touched the drink since); Scotland my first plate of prawns complete with eyes and feelers; Germany the only place I can drink 22oz of beer in a single setting and ask for more; Alaska salmon fresh from the river and last but not least Hawaii rambutans and the best pineapple ever!!! Happy travel memories and dreams of more to come.

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    1. Hi KSue - well, you've enjoyed eating and drinking some wonderful things. The roast guinea pig and bull penis soup sound a bit...ummm..."interesting"! 22oz of beer is a fair amount - it's the weight of the glass, or other container, that I find a challenge in Germany...but it's a great way to "lift weights"! Here's to times when we can all enjoy new flavours, somewhere, again :-)

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  13. Cathy, my stomach was rumbling just reading your blog post, so I can only imagine how fabulous it is to read the Cait Morgan series!

    As for the taste of a country - when I was a student in London, I pretty much lived on Ploughman's Lunch at the locals, so for me, sharp cheddar (the English really are the best at it) and Branson's Pickle take me right back to when I was 21!

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    1. I'm glad the post made you rumble :-) If you like a good strong cheddar I have found a super one, available at CostCo here in Canada - it's called Collier Cheddar, and it's from Wales (yes, I know...I know...LOL!!) it's great with an apple, some bread, and a big dollop of Branston xx Happy eating :-)

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  14. Yes, Julia, the Wensleydale cheese and pickle sandwich is most definitely London for me. But I also loved the soda bread of Ireland and the handmade pasta in Florence. Clearly, I'm a carboholic.

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    1. Oh carb-lovers have such fun eating as they travel - every culture's carbs are so delicious!

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  15. Also, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS, Cathy, on having your work optioned for tv/film. I am eager to read the next Cait Morgan adventure.

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    1. Thanks Jenn - it's absolutely thrilling, and not something I could have dared hope for. I hope you enjoy your time with Cait - she's not one for company (generally speaking) but she's always keen to solve a twisty mystery :-)

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  16. Oh,FABULOUS!!! This is such exciting news. (I am SUCH a fan, as you know.) Let's see--grilled lobster, on the beach, in Nevis! And there's a drink called The Killer Bee. I think it's rum and ...rum.

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    1. Thanks Hank - yes, I'm naturally excited about the TV thing...though being patient is not in my nature, so I have to learn :-) The Killer Bee is soooo sweet! Hard to tell if you're floating on the wings of a sugar rush or enjoying a boozy lift after a couple of them! LOL! It's probably best that the recipe's a secret :-)

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  17. I'm so happy for you, Cathy, on the Cait Morgan books being optioned. You are such a wonderful storyteller, and your work will translate great to TV/film. And, is Wrong Boy still on for the three-part miniseries? I hope so, because that would be as exciting to me as the new Agatha Christie miniseries they've done lately, like Then There Were Noe. I'd also love to see your WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries on a TV series, too.

    I have said for quite a while now how much Cathy has made Wales sound like an amazing place, and how I think she should be paid as a tourism ambassador for her native land. The History of Wales posts on her FB page and other Welsh postings give us so much history and insight into this fascinating country. It's definitely a place on my list to visit whenever we can safely travel again.

    One of my favorite local foods isn't something exotic, but it's the place to get this yummy food. Crab cakes in Maryland are just the best. And, there's a small family restaurant on Chesapeake Bay that a friend, who grew up in the area, took my husband and me to that had the best of the best. I'm a big fan of finding a local spot or un-chain restaurant for the best of an area's food.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, and your tremendous support of our community, Kathy. Yes, besides the 90 minute movies of the Cait Morgan Mysteries, there's also the plan to take THE WRONG BOY to TV, as a three-part mini series, to be broadcast in both English and Welsh...and you know how keen I am to do my best to bring Wales and the Welsh to the attention of the world, so I am especially chuffed about that. Was having a conversation just yesterday about the casting of DI Even Glover who, as I know you know, takes early retirement at the opening of the book, and is only in his fifties. It's great fun to discuss the wealth of fabulous Welsh actors who might play him, and his wife and the largely female cast ranging in age from 17 to up in their 90s. So many Welsh actors use English or even American accents to 'do their job". But, when it comes to Cait, and her travels and love of food, don't forget that that your "not exotic" Maryland crab cakes would be a real local delicacy to someone like me...and I support your point about hunting out the un-chain places for the best local flavors! I'm so pleased you enjoy the bits of Wales I am able to introduce folks to via my Facebook page, and encourage everyone to put it on their list of places to visit...when/if they can x

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    2. EVAN Glover, not EVEN Glover!!! Good grief - can't type! LOL!

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  18. Congratulations, and I hope I get the network to see your TV series. Empanadas and dulce de leche in Argentina, lobster rolls in New England, sourdough bread in San Francisco, and many more. When I traveled, eating was a big part of my trips. Stay safe and well.

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    1. Hi Sally from PA - whenever the deals are finalized, you can be sure I'll be letting folks know ;-) LOL! Your food travels sound delicious...delighted I'm not the only one who "travels to eat"! :-)

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  19. Congratulations, Cathy! The Cait Morgan series is so much fun and I can't wait to see it on my screen! The most surprising food for me was when I was on a small charter boat in Borneo. I requested vegetarian food for the three-day trip and the local guide introduced me to tempeh, a popular Indonesian soybean patty. The food and the trip were absolutely wonderful.

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