Welcome back to the table readers! My blog has really given me the ability to not only share my love of cooking and reading but also to broaden my scope in both areas. I’ve read all different types of books I probably wouldn’t have otherwise and I’ve been able to try my hand at different dishes that are outside my comfort zone. Recipe and a Read has taken me all over the globe trying out different recipes from different cultures and countries. It’s always a neat little surprise when I’m reading and BAM there’s the recipe I’m going to make. Whether it’s something I’m familiar with, or that I’ve never had, and even when I have to get a little creative to make it work these are always my favorite posts. So tickle me pink when I see huevos rancheros show up not once, but multiple times in Blake Crouch’s new book Recursion! As a born and bred Texan, huevos rancheros are right up my alley and one of my all-time favorite dishes. So without further ado, off we go!
So, I feel like I need to start this out with a little caveat. I would put Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter in my top 5 favorite books ever read. I absolutely adored it. Was I confused at times? Yes. Was I also completely and utterly thrilled the whole time I read it? Also, yes. I was both excited and incredibly nervous to read his upcoming novel Recursion because despite being a big advocate for not comparing things, I have a hard time not doing it. The ARC book gods #blessed me with an advanced copy of the novel and I put it off because I was nervous. However, once I dove in it gripped me with the same intensity I’ve come to be familiar with Crouch’s works. I’m going to do my damn best to not compare the novels too much but I hope you’ll forgive me if I fail a little.
Barry Sutton is a New York police officer who is called to the roof of a building to talk a woman down from jumping off the ledge. As he speaks to her, he learns that she’s suffering from “False Memory Syndrome” a syndrome that leaves it’s sufferers with vivid memories of a life that never happened. It’s not just that they have a memory, it’s that they are visceral and real. These people can remember smells, touches, the look on someones face, they remember the most minute details that create a rich picture of a life they’ve never had. Some remember a life worse than the one they’re living now, but others, like the woman Barry is speaking to, no longer has her husband or her son and her entire life feels meaningless and empty.
Everyone thinks FMS is just false memories of the big moments of our life, but what hurts so much more are the small ones. I don’t just remember my husband. I remember the smell of his breath in the morning when he rolled over and faced me in bed.
Helena Smith is a neuroscientist with endless potential but a very limited budget for the dreams she holds in her minds eye. Helena’s mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and she has a dream to create a memory chair – to store memories for people who can’t hold onto them and give them back as they start to fade. When a wealthy and anonymous benefactor offers her unlimited resources she jumps at the opportunity. As Helena works on the chair she quickly realizes that not all is as it seems with her new partner and as her memory chair takes shape, so does the real reason Helena has been brought in.
As Barry investigates FMS (more like FML, amiright) and Helena works on her chair we’re given alternate POVs between the two. Barry finds himself in the middle of an incredibly convoluted mystery that even the most seasoned reader will have a hard time pinning down. It isn’t until Helena and Barry’s stories collapse upon one another that the real mind-fuckery beings to take place. Let me just tell you, one reader to another, this is a twisted mess of time travel, parallel universes, and the question of what it means to simply be alive and what makes us who we are.
There are so few things in our existence we can count on to give us the sense of permanence, of the ground beneath our feet. People fail us. Our bodies fail us. We fail ourselves… But what do you cling to, moment to moment, if memories can simply change. What, then, is real? And if the answer is nothing, where does that leave us?
Similar to Dark Matter I don’t want to give too much away because one of the greatest things Crouch brings to literature is the utter shock and surprise that comes with his stories. They are so truly unique and original that I consistently find myself questioning how someone’s brain even functions the way his does. Asking myself how someone can even begin to think this up. I think that if I tried to spoil this entire story right now, I may not even be able to because it’s such a complicated and intricate web that Crouch has woven here. What leaves me even more impressed though, is that despite how complicated the story is, I was able to follow along *for the most part* because Crouch is able to make ideas that would normally fly right on over my head, accessible and tangible.
Recursion is truly a whirlwind and it has everything any reader could ask for. It’s exciting, thrilling, heart warming and gritty all at the same time. It asks questions I haven’t ever thought of and created scenarios that made my brain ache to contemplate. It challenged me as a reader and it challenged my ideas of what creates “reality” and “the present”. I should’ve read this with someone else because I wish I could have talked to someone who was reading it at the same time as me. However, I’m super excited to add this to my list of book recommendations for the future and to discuss it then!
I don’t want to look back anymore. I’m ready to accept that my existence will sometimes contain pain. No more trying to escape, either through nostalgia or a memory chair. They’re both the same fucking thing. Life with a cheat code isn’t life. our existence isn’t something to be engineered or optimized for the avoidance of pain. That’s what it is to be human – the beauty and the pain, each meaningless without the other.
In the end this is another total slam dunk for me and I can’t wait to see what Crouch comes up with next. This is a twisty novel that you’re never going to be able to pin down where it’s about to head next. It left me truly breathless at points because it felt like I was reading and the story was moving at break-neck speed. There were points I almost needed to take a break because so much is being thrown at you at once. If this review has confused you at all, I totally understand because this book is insane to try to explain. However, I still can’t suggest picking it up enough!
Long Story Short:
Suggested For: Honestly, everyone. However most notably anyone a fan of Dark Matter, Sci-Fi fans, fans of time travel, fans of pure mind-fuckery novels.
Music Mood: Nevermind by Dennis Lloyd
Alright, now that we’ve got that cluster-fuck of a review out of the way we can move onto the meal! There are lots of variations of huevos rancheros so feel free to mix things up to fit you and your families pallet and tastes. This is a super versatile dish and while it’s generally vegetarian it doesn’t necessarily have to be!
- Servings: 2
- Pans: 1 *quietly whispering to myself – yes, another excuse to plug the cast iron skillet*
- Prep-Time: 0 minutes!
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 4 roma tomatoes
- 2 eggs *or however many you eat per serving*
- 1 serrano pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled but whole
- 1/4 – 1/2 onion, peeled but whole
- 2 corn tortillas
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Queso Fresco
- Place the roma tomatoes, serrano pepper, garlic cloves and onion in cast iron skillet. Cook them until they start to char and turn until all sides are slightly blackened / charred. Remove from skillet.
- Place all of the charred veggies in a blender and blend – add a pinch of salt to taste.
- Place blended veggies back in skillet and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes and season with more salt to taste if needed. Remove from skillet into a secondary bowl.
- Fill bottom of skillet with vegetable oil (just enough to lightly fry the tortillas), place tortillas into the oil and fry until just crisp. Remove tortillas to paper towel to drain off a bit of the oil.
- Fry those eggs! Traditional huevos rancheros is done sunny side up but we prefer over easy. Carefully remove eggs from skillet.
- Place fried tortillas in skillet, top with eggs, racheros sauce, and sprinkle cilantro and queso fresco on top. Serve immediately.
Easy edits to make per preference:
- I de-vein and seed my serrano peppers because I’m a big wimp. However, if you like more spice leave in the seeds and veins.
- Traditional huevos rancheros is served sunny side up. We prefer over-easy eggs and I personally don’t think it makes a big difference.
- Optional garnishes include: various types of meat or cheeses, or my personal favorite: avocado!
- This is essentially a breakfast tostada. Tostadas are much easier to make with stale corn tortillas but it isn’t necessary.
Quote: Beyond the servers, there’s a modest kitchen and across from it, positioned along the windows, a dresser and a bed. With no real delineation between work and living space, the loft feels like exactly what it is – the lab of a desperate, possibly mad scientist. Barry washes his face at the bathroom sink, and when he emerges, finds Helena at the stove attending to a pair of skillets. He says, “I love huevos rancheros.” “I know. And you really love mine, well, technically my mothers recipe. Sit.”
Well there it is y’all! I personally love breakfast for dinner and huevos rancheros always hits the spot. Have you read Dark Matter or Recursion? Are there any tropes that make your brain hurt the way time travel does mine? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!