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Strange Flavors

Strange Flavors

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Strange Flavors

87 pagine
1 ora
Feb 1, 2021


A collection of oddly food-centric science fiction & fantasy short stories.

  • Stone Soup
    To feed her family, Trishla is willing to pay the price for her magic.
  • Hard Times
    Tara sees aliens all the time - at work, in the supermarket, even panhandling on the side of the road.
  • A Domestic Wine and Cassoulet
    David Masaryk is a stranded alien trying - unsuccessfully, it would seem - to keep a low profile in Southern California. You'd think that would be easy...
  • The One That Got Away
    The search for an exiled sea goddess leads Nereus, Warden of the Outcasts to a small coastal restaurant and a broken fishing float.
  • Job Hunt
    You'll do just about anything when you're desperate for work. Luckily, about the time the dog food was starting to look appealing, the alien showed up...
  • Sugar and Spice
    Creation 101 Term Paper, Footnote 17: "Justification of the Alteration of a Non-Specific Recipe"
Feb 1, 2021

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Anteprima del libro

Strange Flavors - Leigh Saunders

Strange Flavors

food-centric science fiction & fantasy


Leigh Saunders

Camden Park Press

Table of Contents

Author’s Note

Stone Soup

Hard Times

A Domestic Wine and Cassoulet

The One That Got Away

Job Hunt

Sugar and Spice

About the Author

Also by Leigh Saunders


Author’s Note

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW many times I have been sitting at my computer and reached for my coffee mug or water bottle, only to discover that it’s empty. Or didn’t realize I was hungry until the characters I was writing about were sitting down to a meal.

With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to gather up a handful of my own short stories that had food as either a core theme or key element of some sort.

I love short stories – they’re great fun to write, and great fun to read. On the literary banquet table, short stories are the appetizers, snacks, and desserts.

The stories in this collection are both sweet and savory, and come in bite-sized tidbits and single-serving sizes. But I like to think they’re all perfectly tasty. It is my hope that you also find something that satisfies your tastebuds in this little buffet.

– Leigh Saunders

Sandy, Utah

February 1, 2021


Stone Soup

AS A PARENT OF YOUNG children, keeping a houseful of hungry little ones fed and healthy is a constant challenge. And when times are rough and money is tight, there’s little or nothing a parent won’t do to meet that need.

No price is too high.

(Stone Soup was awarded the 1st place prize in the League of Utah Writers 2018 Short Story contest.)


Stone Soup


Trishla stared at the handful of rolled oats in the bottom of the cardboard container and the few saltines in their crumpled, wax-paper wrapping. She could use the oats and the last can of evaporated milk for the children’s breakfast in the morning, but the otherwise empty pantry left her with nothing for dinner and mouths to feed.


Trishla closed the door, leaning her head against it with a sigh. Jake was doing his best, but even with three part-time jobs, he barely earned enough to cover the rent and keep the lights on. Of course, their three young children didn’t understand things like layoffs and recessions and food stamps. They just knew that they were hungry all the time.

Trishla pushed herself away from the pantry and turned to watch three-year-old Andy playing in the living room. The toddler scooped up a handful of brightly colored plastic blocks and dropped them into a large yellow dump truck with a clatter, then drove the truck across the room, energetic vroom-vrooms bubbling from his lips.

Trishla smiled weakly, pushing a strand of dark hair out of her face with a thin, trembling hand. Crossing the kitchen, she pulled a slim picture book from the high shelf where she kept her cookbooks. Keeping her voice light, she called out to Andy.

Would you like Mommy to read the baking story, sweetie?

Long ago, when Trishla was just a little girl, her mama often read bedtime stories to her and her little brother, Amir, the sing-song, accented English of her native New Delhi lulling the children sweetly to sleep.

Sometimes, she would read the lively Panchatantra tales of talking jungle animals and their foibles, mimicking the characters with silly voices and grand gestures that cast shadows on the wall.

Other nights, they would clamor for tales of the Arabian Nights, shrieking and giggling as they engaged in mock battles until they were so worn out that they slipped away into an adventure-filled dreamland.

But there were also the times when Trishla’s mama would read simple tales of quiet, everyday things – like the adventures of the hungry little boy named Viku and his friend, Haatee the elephant, who took him to a banana grove where they picked and ate their fill of the sweet fruit.

Trishla was sure it was just her imagination that filled her dreams with Viku’s laughing and Haatee’s happy trumpeting, but the next day so often brought a breakfast of fresh, hot bread spread thickly with mashed bananas and honey, or a tray of her grandmother’s fried pazham pori banana fritters cooling on the kitchen counter, that Trishla and Amir looked forward to story time, licking their lips in anticipation of the yummy foods the stories described.

Trishla settled Andy onto her lap, his trusty tan teddy bear cuddled on his own lap, and opened the picture book.

There once was a little red hen..., she began.

As she read, she found herself slipping into the rhythm of her mama’s sing-song accent, the syllables of the story falling off her tongue like musical notes. Around them, the air began to move, brushing gently across her skin.

Andy shivered, looking up at Trishla with happy anticipation lighting his wide brown eyes. Trishla pulled him closer and kept reading.

In the kitchen, a chicken clucked.

...The hen planted the grains of wheat, Trishla read.

A current of air brought with it the fragrance of rich, loamy soil, freshly turned, and the soft hint of warm spring rain. Trishla could taste the droplets on her tongue, feel the sunshine on the side of her face nearest the kitchen.

Ignoring the gnawing emptiness in her own stomach, Trishla read on.

Their parents had gone out for the evening, leaving seven-year-old Trishla and six-year-old Amir with a babysitter. Amir had been restless and fretful, and the sitter impatient, and she had sent the two children to bed early, shouting up at Amir as he lay on his bed and kicked his feet against the wall.

Trishla knew that shouting at Amir would do nothing to settle him, so she crept down the hall to his room and slipped inside.

Shall I read you a story, Amir? she asked, switching on the light.

Mm-hmm, he replied, giving the wall a last one-two kick before rolling over onto his belly.

What would you like to hear?

The ps-ketti story.

Trishla retrieved the tattered copy of Strega Nona from the bin of children’s books and began to read about Strega Nona and the overflowing cauldron of spaghetti, sending Amir into fits of giggles as

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