Dear readers, tonight with me is the renowned food-blogger and critic Josie Tucker. She is here to tell us about some of the hair-raising, Agatha Christie adventure – only vaguely related to food – which she had recently.
Where did you grow up? When did you decide to become a food critic, despite your digestive issues?
I spent some formative years growing up in Tucson, Arizona—partly in high school, the rest in what you might call the school of hard knocks. I’m not bragging or anything—sometimes I think I’m lucky I’m still here. Those chollas, man, can eat you alive. Do not mess with teenage girls of the Latina variety. Though one of them saved my butt. More than once.
And my job…Like a lot of jobs, I fell into being a food critic accidentally. I mean, my mother used to have a restaurant, so I have a blue collar knowledge of the food industry first hand. But when I applied as an intern to the now-defunct newspaper that was my first job, I was just supposed to be a human interest researcher. You know, follow up on names and places and dates. Get a few pictures if no one else was around to do it. Long story short, I ended up ghostwriting the food column for the psycho-columnist-in-residence. By the time the psycho imploded and they found out I didn’t have any formal training—no degree from the Cordon Bleu or the Culinary Institute, nothing like that—my readership had increased enough that I was safe from being fired. The people had spoken and they liked me, for whatever reason. Luckily.
As for the digestive issues, no one knows about that, so I’d appreciate it if you keep that off the record. I’m in denial myself.
How does a food critic become involved in solving murders?
I… don’t know. Do I attract craziness? Is it something about me? Please tell me. It’s not something I actively seek out. Psychotic killers in the Arizona desert. Burlesque dancers and San Francisco Chinatown. How does this keep happening to me? I don’t know. Although I admit, once I get involved in some kind of mess, I’m not giving up until the truth is uncovered. I’m pig-headed that way.
What was your scariest point in your adventures?
Two words: shovel, desert. I still have nightmares about it. Then again, I have bad dreams about a lot of things I’ve eaten. But most bad meals are the result of terrible judgement, kind of like a trip to Vegas I once took. But that’s neither here nor there.
As a food critic, what is the meal of your dreams?
Food is great, don’t get me wrong. But what makes a meal perfect or not is the entire experience of it—the tableau, if you will. The time of day. The ambience. The people you’re with. The memory it creates. If all of those factors work together in a magical way, it creates something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. So, I don’t have a meal of my dreams, per se, but I am waiting for that pinnacle experience, that apex of my existence. I only hope I recognize it when it happens.
What does the future hold for you? Any career changes or romantic plans?
I recently obtained a piece of paper, which I carry in my wallet. It says I’m a private investigator. I have a lot of things to learn before I can comfortably say I’m a master of the skill set associated with being a PI. Or even a novice, for that matter. I’m just trying to stop feeling like a phony. So, there’s that.
Is this interview over? It feels a little awkward not being in control. Anyway, yeah. I’m not big on talking about myself. But thanks.
EM Kaplan grew up reading Agatha Christie and Edgar Rice Burroughs in rural Arizona where there were no sidewalks but plenty of tumbleweeds. A former wannabe spy, trombonist, toilet-cleaner, beginner ninja, and subversive marketeer, she currently lives in the frozen north with her husband, kids, and dog. You can find Josie Tucker on the pages of The Bride Wore Dead and Dim Sum, Dead Some.
Next week with us will be a Scottish musician, telling us of his travels across the Atlantic to “Hollywood South”. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.