Cheese On Toast: The Food of FIRELIGHT

Coming January 31, 2012

Kristen Callihan's FIRELIGHT is the story of a young woman with the unusual ability to spontaneously produce fire who meets a man who must wear a mask to hide the damage he suffered in an accident, set in Victorian London. A fire-and-ice, beauty-and-the-beast, love-hate relationship ensues.

Surprisingly, there isn't much mention of food in FIRELIGHT. There's this mention in the first chapter spoken to Miranda, the main character, from her father as he discusses her sudden impeding wedding to Lord Benjamin Archer.

"It cannot have escaped your notice that this is the finest meal we've had in months." His weathered hand swept over the meager meal of mutton stew and simple brown bread pudding that Miranda was preparing. --page 23

As no other meal is mentioned in the entire book, I wonder if this is the only meal she's had in months. I'm sure it's not. However, when Miranda goes from being destitute to living in luxury, you'd think that would include mentioning a luxurious meal or two. [Update: as a savy commentor pointed out, there is a luxurious dinner involving oysters. I confess the subtext of this scene stole my attention from the food. It was that good.] I can only assume food isn't as important to Miranda as it is to me. *grin* (Which brings up another interesting point-- how does Miranda fuel her fire? Between no food and no explanation for the fire, the world-building in FIRELIGHT is at times rather incomplete.)

There is a lot of bourbon to be had over the course of the story, though, owing to the male protagonist, Lord Benjamin Archer having spent several years in America and acquiring a taste for it. Every time two characters meet, they're having bourbon. Even Miranda develops a taste for it.

The only other mention of food is a running inside joke between Miranda and Benjamin. Their first meeting happens because of this joke. Miranda is under attack by a pair of hooligans, so she warns them:

"Leave now," she demanded, unmoved, "or I'll turn you both to cheese on toast."

Archer could not help it, mirth bubbled up from within, and he found himself laughing.

--page 11

It's Archer's laughter that scares off the hooligans, though Miranda isn't aware of his identity at the time. Later, it's Archer's mention of this delicious phrase that clues Miranda in to the identity of her rescuer that day three years ago. The author, Kristen Callihan, discusses the "cheese on toast" as a deliberate running gag.

Not sure what happened, but at one time April 27th was National Cheese on Toast Day. It seems to have disappeared.

As I don't care for bread pudding, and I won't eat mutton, I give you:

CHEESE ON TOAST

2 slices of bread 2 slices of cheese - most common for this is Cheddar or Swiss, but in this case, try a British cheese

Toast the bread in a toaster. Top with shredded cheese. Place cheese-covered toast in oven. Broil on high until melted (1-2 minutes. Watch carefully.) Remove and enjoy.