Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize: Candace Savage wants to dine with...

hilary-weston-writers-trust-80.jpgTo celebrate the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction shortlist, we've teamed up with the Writers' Trust and Loblaws to bring you the Feed Your Mind contest. We've been asking readers which nonfiction writer they'd most like to dine with, what they'd serve and what they'd ask them.

The shortlisted authors have gotten in on the fun as well! Here is what Candace Savage, author of A Geography of Blood, had to say:

If you could invite any memoirist, non-fiction writer, or biographer (living or dead) to dinner...

candace-200.jpg1) Who would it be?

If you'll throw in a fluent command of Middle French as part of the deal, then I would like to meet Christine de Pizan. She was born in Venice in 1363 but spent most of her life in France and is the first woman known to have earned her living as a professional writer. And, please, since we're talking impossibilities, don't bring her to visit me here: I'd much prefer a return ticket to medieval Paris.

2) What would you serve her?

Thanks to Google, I've had a quick turn through a cookery book, Le Ménagier de Paris, which dates from 1393. If it's anything to go by, those Late Middle Agers really knew how to eat!  I'm thinking a typical "meat day dinner" of 31 dishes in six platters -- beginning with toast-rounds and veal pies, supplemented by steaming bowls of hare stew, smoked eels, coneys, water-fowl à la dodine and the like, and rounded off by a dessert course of pears with sugared almonds, medlars, hippocras and wafers -- should do the trick. Where's my apron? I'd better get cooking.

3) What would you want to ask her?

To begin with, I'd like to ask her the same question I'd put to any working mother.  How the heck did you do it? Christine de Pizan was married at 15 and widowed by the plague at 25. Thereafter, she contrived to support herself, her mother and three children by writing love ballads and feisty essays. And where did she get the courage to champion women's right to respect and education in the middle of what we carelessly write off as the Dark Ages? I'm prepared to be dazzled.

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