Saturday, April 23, 2011


Many of us write in several genres. I’m one of those people who like to try their hand at different things, so I write Family Drama, Romance/Romantic Suspense, Young Adult and Women’s Fiction. Until I thought about it because of interview questions, I didn’t realize that there were common themes in my books. Among these are choices, family, loyalty, faithfulness, relationships and responsibility. 

I’m not sure why some of these topics appear all the time, perhaps because they are important to me and writing about them is a non-preachy way of showing what I believe. Maybe I’m exploring these issues to see how people themselves in certain situations  or maybe I’m obsessed. Who knows?

What are the themes you weave into your novels? Do you know why you write about them? 

Uncooked Tripe
I know there will be some raised eyebrows in a second, but the meal of the day is Tripe & Beans. Yep, you saw right. I did type that. I think this legacy of eating cow stomach came to us from slavery, when nothing was allowed to go to waste.

The first thing is to get this stuff cleaned up right, which is a tedious process. After the tripe is cut into smaller strips, it’s turned inside out and cleaned with a keen eye to detail. My mother used hot water to do this. I’ll tell you in a minute how you know you’ve got all the intestinal matter out.

So you put the tripe in water with some seasoning, thyme and escallion, and cook until nearly tender. You add small dumplings, the spinners I mentioned yesterday and season with escallion, onion, pepper, pimento seeds, salt, thyme and other preferred seasoning. If you buy canned butter beans, add them when the meat is cooked, otherwise the beans can be cooked with the meat.

Tripe & Beans
Words to the wise: This is not a meal for the fainthearted. Just thinking about it can make you swoon if you have a ‘delicate constitution’ as the English used to say. You know all the matter the cow had in it before death has not been removed if you can smell it while the pot is on the stove, so meticulous cleaning is important. Until I looked at this on Wikipedia, I didn’t realize that tripe is eaten in a variety of places. If you’re interested to see the list, go here.

I won't be around for much of the day, but will catch up with you tomorrow. Feel free to leave me a comment.


  1. I haven't thought about the themes in my stories, but I guess I write about very strong women, women who make very hard choices and get themselves out of situations rather than relying on anyone else, most specifically a man since my stories are romance. Your post has fired up my brain cells on this Saturday morning, which is very difficult to do since I tend to not have any coherent thoughts until noon on the weekends. :)

  2. Melissa, glad you found something here to start the old brain cells churning.

  3. My themes are always centered around love -- found, lost, given away, how to get it, what to do when you get it.

    I write romance. And women's fiction with romance thrown in for good measure.

    And I'm sorry, I just don't think I could ever try tripe. Unless someone didn't tell me what it was.

  4. Oh we had tripe this week JL and it was lovely especially since we're starting ith the cold winter weather. I don't like the bleached variety on though, I prefer it still dark and dingy looking. That's the best one i.t.o flavour. I think you just carried it over from Africa, slavery or no slavery because here we still think the internal organs are the best parts of the entire animal. In the homelands/villages, only the elders eat it.

  5. That's crazy! My dad was just saying something about tripe and wondering which part it was... I thought it was intestines, but it's stomach.

    bleah. :p I had a friend offer me tongue once, but I had to say no.

    And I genre hop, too. I think if they're related enough (which yours sound to be), it's probably fine~

  6. Ann, love is something that we'll never be able to write enough about, so I guess it's a good subject to focus on.

    Wendy, I didn't know they bleached the stuff. I only saw pictures of dark ones today on Google. Many of the things we do here in Jamaica is indeed stuff that came over with the slaves from Africa.

    LRM, Funny, I'll eat tripe, but not tongue. There's something that's nasty about the idea of eating tongue. LMAO.

  7. I think I must be one of those "delicate constitution" types, because I'm pretty sure I couldn't handle tripe.

    Now that I think about it, I think my last two books share a common theme about dying for a cause. However, in one, the character dies by choice. In the second, someone else is trying to kill him for the cause. What I've noticed even more are the similarities between characters in the two books - I'm definitely drawn to a certain type of male hero.

  8. Yes, theme is always on my mind. I want something that ties everything together in my manuscripts.

    I loathed the smell of cooking tripe as a child. I could never eat it.

  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Susan. I'm like in that my female heroes tend to be of a certain type, the independent no-nonsense kind.

    Medeia, I think we all write around certain themes, even if we don't consciously know it.

  10. Themes are important, but I believe themes are developed to fit the story.

    Nice to meet you on A to Z.


  11. Another amazing post on eating habits of people of different places and culture. So interesting.

    I love the secret pregnancy, and reunion themes.

  12. Hmm, themes. My themes tend to work around justice, inequality, and love for fellow people. And I have a lot struggles of self-discovery (but who doesn't right?)

    East for Green Eyes

  13. I write my own conflicts over and over. Part of it is because writing is therapy for me. Part of it is that I find others have gone through similar conflicts.

  14. Monti, nice to meet you too!

    Nas, thanks for stopping in. I like reunions too, particularly among people who have really loved each other in the past.

    Hi, Rosie, I think all our characters struggle on their voyages of self-discovery

    Tammy, I understand. Conflict makes for great storytelling.

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  16. I'm not sure about the tripe and beans. I have now acquired a taste for menudo, but it's something that I found pretty repulsive at first and even now does not strike me quite right unless I'm really in the mood for it. The ingredients of the tripe and beans sound kind of okay. I guess if I were psyched up enough for it I might be able to "stomach" it.

    Hope you join us in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post on Monday May 2nd.

  17. Thanks for stopping in. Menudo is not so far different as tripe is actually stomach.


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