Monday, 22 June 2015

The Proof of the Pudding - Inspiration Behind the Story


I've realised that it has been a while since I wrote an inspiration behind the story post. This isn't because there wasn't anything interesting to write about my recent published stories - just that with all the lovely guests I've welcomed onto Wendy's Writing Now recently, I haven't had much time.

Anyway, I thought I'd tell you the inspiration behind this week's People's Friend Story, Proof of the Pudding, because it links in with a post I wrote last October. It was called, So What if I Can't Bake and you can read it here. In a nutshell, I had gone to my local restaurant, The Sussex Produce Company, to have a meal and listen to a talk given by Mary Berry. I was desperately excited as I absolutely love The Great British Bake Off, even though it is common knowledge amongst my friends that I cannot bake.

At the start of the evening, we were given a copy of Mary Berry's new recipe book, Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect Step by Step (as part of the package) and then we queued to have it signed. Not surprisingly, the queue was quite long and I had plenty of time to think of something witty or intelligent to say to her once I reached the table. (I have a habit of blurting out rather silly things when nervous). When it was my turn, I stepped up and held out the book. Mary sat there, a picture of elegance, and smiled... and all I could think of to say was, "Hello."

It was a wonderful evening but I had little time to think about it as I had invited a group of girlfriends round for dinner a few days later as my husband was away. I can get into a bit of a fluster when it comes to cooking for large numbers... what would I cook? How much should I buy? Would they noticed if it all came from M&S? It was then that my gaze fell on my newly acquired Mary Berry recipe book. If each course came from her book and it all went wrong, Mary would be to blame, not me - wouldn't she? It seemed like a plan.

I am happy to say that, against all odds, the dinner party was a great success and Mary's Caramelised red onion and rocket tartlets were a triumph. I think my friends were surprised that I had pulled it off but I have a sneaky suspicion that Mary wouldn't  have been.

The whole thing had the makings of a great story, so the next day I sat down and wrote it. It starts off with Deborah wondering what witty, intelligent thing she can say to television chef, Nancy Cresswell at her book signing... I think you can guess what she blurted out!

The story is modelled on my ability to get flustered when cooking for a dinner party (the reason why I don't have them!) but the rest of the story is fictional. When Proof of the Pudding was published last week, I was astonished at David Young's illustration. He modelled it on his own kitchen... but it looks exactly like mine!

22 comments:

  1. Loved this story, Wendy - and David's illustration of course.
    In view of Shirley's latest blog post: http://bit.ly/1d5W7DR I'd love you to do a post on how you got all the facts for "Charlotte's War" (great serial; I miss those characters).

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    1. Glad you liked it. Pat - and yes, Shirley's post was really interesting. It's really important to try and get facts as accurate as possible.

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  2. Lovely blog, Wendy. I always enjoy hearing 'the story behind the story.' So pleased your Mary Berry recipe went down well with your friends. I bake one of her chocolate cakes that always garners wonderful compliments.

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  3. Loved this, particularly as I remember you telling me about meeting Mary Berry. Er you're not baking on Wednesday are you, Wendy?

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    1. We go out for your birthday lunch to a place where they make the most delicious cakes imaginable... or I bake. The choice is yours, Tracy :)

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  4. Lovely to hear the inspiration behind the story, Wendy, and you'll always be able to rely on Mary's book for dinner parties. :D

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    1. Do you know, Carol, I haven't had a failure yet with a recipe of hers.

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  5. I literally - and I mean literally - have nightmares about dinner parties. The guests are due, and I'm probably naked and haven't even bought the food. So I can identify with this, Wendy! I once based a story on a similar theme....as you do. Write what you know, and all that.

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    1. It's amazing how stressful something that should be an enjoyable experience can be, Frances!

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  6. Hmm, I seem to be in the minority because I really enjoy giving dinner parties! (not that we give that many - just a few a year). The secret (ooh, listen to me, the 'expert'!) is to keep it really simple - do starter and puddings in advance (ie: nothing you've actually got to cook while your guests are sitting there, in anticipation!) and stick to a tried-and-tested main course. Your guests want to see you and talk to you (hopefully!) so you don't want to be dashing out to the kitchen every five seconds. Done well, I think a dinner party is much more relaxing (and less costly!) than going out for a meal. You're in charge of service, drinks, room temperature and food. In theory, nothing can go wrong!!

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    1. I always say I won't go overboard and then end up spending all day doing it. Once it's on the table, I lose my appetite!

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  7. Forgot to add, I like the sound of your story Wendy and it was really interesting hearing how you got your inspiration! I wonder if Mary Berry's ears were burning (oh no, of course now - she never burns anything, does she!?)

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  8. Lovely post, Wendy - I swear the delicious aroma of those tartlets is wafting through my screen - and a lovely story too. x

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    1. I absolutely recommend them, Joanna.

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  9. I remember your post about MB and what a great story to tell from your own experiences! I'd love her cookery book (but not cakes).

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    1. If I was a perfect cook, there would have been no story, Rosemary.

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  10. I always enjoy reading the story behind the story! I love GBBO too and Mary Berry is amazing.

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    1. Glad you enjoy reading my inspirations, Angela.

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  11. Interesting to hear the inspiration behind your story. Have you cooked anything from that book since?

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