When I was younger I often heard mention of cults. We were warned of the dangers of getting involved with them and how to spot them. In those days young people were often targeted with social gatherings masking something more sinister. These days it does not seem to be mentioned as much. I am not sure if that is because they are less prevalent or if there is less awareness. Over Christmas I had a chance to catch up with my reading and one of the books I picked up off my mountainous to read pile was The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams. This is a book aimed at teenagers and tells the story of Kyra, a thirteen year old girl who has grown up in the Chosen One compound. It is an isolated community run by Prophet Childs where families are large and men have more than one wife. Women and children must obey and reading is forbidden. Kyra is rebellious, she sneaks off to the mobile library once a week and hides her reading books in a tree. She meets up with her boyfriend, Joshua, in secret and together they dream of marriage. Then things change, she is told she has to become the seventh wife of her Uncle and the wedding is in four weeks. Kyra feels that this is wrong, but is trapped. If she leaves will harm come to her family? Where can she go?
The book is a powerful and moving account into life for Kyra and how she deals with the situation. At first she believe that her family and friends will prevent this marriage, but gradually she comes to realise that there is no chance of escape unless she leaves. The emotions within the book are powerful and it is well worth a read. One moving moment in the book is when the woman folk take Kyra into town to buy material for her wedding gown. She becomes aware that her family is different, local girls make remarks and regard them with hostility. Kyra starts to realise that her life is not normal.
As well as buying material as a special treat they stop at Applebees, the local diner for lunch. One of the elder woman has been raving about the experience and as Kyra tucks into her meal she realises why. To quote the book
“I am sure Mother Clare’s words have ruined my appetite until the waitress sets a plate of chicken and shrimp in front of me. This food is so delicious I can hardly stand it” .
For this months Read, Cook, Eat Challenge I have attempted to recreate the dish.
Not having a recipe to work from made things a little difficult, I knew the book was set in America but had no idea of the location. Chicken and shrimp to me sounded like a Cajan combination and I decided to make a chicken and shrimp stew which I served with rice. I added Cajan spices to give it a bit of a kick as well as a red pepper, onions and garlic. For the shrimp I used a mixture of tiger prawns and smaller shrimp.
I was really pleased with the resulting recipe, it had a lovely flavour and a little bit of a kick. It was not too spicy and was enjoyed by the whole family. It was really quite easy and quick to make as well and would make a great mid week meal.