Talk and table, the first Fall guest Daniel Wallace

picture: Daniël Wallace (internet)

Roaming around the alleys of the world wide web I met Daniël Wallace. He is an American author of the in the Netherlands best known novel Big Fish; A novel of mythic proportions. Telling the story of a father through the eyes of his son William. Edward Bloom. A father, who thinks that what he does is of mythical value. (1998) The novel was later filmed by Tim Burton.
Daniël Wallace is multi talented man, he has had a lot of different carreers, from the veterinary to teaching to writing. He wrote a lot. Books like the Watermelon King (2003) en his last The Kings and Queens of Roam (2013)
He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where many writers live. Since I am an aspired writer too on my tales blog-I write fairytales and surreal stories- I thought it was time to invite Daniël to speak his mind and join me in talk and table. His reward is a special recipe and wine for this man. Perhaps a Big Fish will cross the dish.

Who Daniël Wallace? Tell me some more
Writer, husband, father, drawer of pictures.

How did your attraction for writing start?
I like to make things by myself. I have always liked to entertain. Books have always been important to me so I wanted to write one that could be important to other people.

Currently you teach undergraduates, what do you want them to learn from you and your way of writing? 
Teaching undergraduates you have to deal with the fundamentals, the scaffolding of a story. It’s easy to forget that if you’ve been writing for a while. Teaching makes me remember.

What are favorite type of stories?
Beautifully written stories with an engaging but not overwhelming plot, always about people who have life-changing choices to make.

Which book from your youth you like the most and which one you dislike? I am very curious about that.
Love: Gulliver’s Travels. Not love: The Scarlet Letter.

You did a lot of different things in your life, can you recall your most striking moment?
When I told my father I wasn’t going to work for his company.

I read that you would prefered to have another of your books filmed. Which one and why?
I would like to have any of my books filmed. Films are fun to be a part of and they always bring new readers.

Can you tell me something of you most favorite place Where is it, does it even exist and why?
Good question. I will always say HOME, wherever that is.

I am very intrigued by the theme of Big Fish, because there is a certain thing on father and son communication. In my case it is absent, can you tell me some more on that?
That’s a very long answer! I think that’s why I wrote the book.

On food, which food do you like and which you would never eat?
I love almost everything but liver and beets.

What wine do you like?

Can you tell me something about your “foodprint” A lot of waste we have in the Western world?
Oh god you are so right. I don’t know what to do about it. Do you?

What else do you want to tell?
I’m a happy man.

Further reading on Daniël Wallace?

 picture: cover in sepia of the Big Fish

The Recipe

Daniël Wallace shows in his answers he is a plain man. Short answers. He likes to be a family man. A happy one. Home is his favorite destination. And on the wine question he does not give a cellar full of wines. The recipe for him was easy. Something with a big fish. A fisherman’s meal. A classic Dutch dish, that I make a lot. Cod with leek and butter. Hearty and warm after a day of fishing on the Zuiderzee. The wine to pair is a crisp white wine from the Mâconnais, perhaps one from the Caves de Lugny. But also a plain Dutch Heineken beer will do.

Ingredients 4 persons:

2.2 lbs/ 1kg potatoes
2 lbs/ 900 g of cod in pieces
2 leeks
1 onion
1 carrot
3 oz butter
1 tbs white wine vinager
1/2 glass of white wine
1/2 cup/ 120 ml milk
chopped parsley
chopped chives
2 tbs Dijon mustard
bread crumb
salt and pepper


Cut the leeks in tiny rings and rinse. Chop the onion. Peel the carrot and cut in tiny pieces. Peel the potatoes and bring to a boil until done. Make a mash of it by adding some warm milk and a dash of nutmeg. When this potato mash is done ad a lump of butter and the chopped chives. Season with some peper and salt.
Heat some butter in a pan and stir fry the leek, onion and carrot until glazy. Add the fish and bake for another two minutes. Add some wine, the mustard and some butter. Leave to simmer for a while. season the whole with some salt and pepper.  Add the parsley in the end. Pour the fish and vegetables in an oven dish. Preheat the oven on 356 Fahrenheit/180 Celsius. Cover withe the mashed potatoes. Put some lumps of butter and the bread crumb on top. Put the dish in the oven for 25 minutes. The dish should have a nice crumble.

Leave to cool  for a while before serving.

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