Mermaids in the Basement

9 05 2008

First lines can mean everything to a great novel. You’ll remember “Call me Ishmael” from the classic Moby Dick. Or from A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” (Two of my favorite stories of all time.)

So when I heard of this adorable Southern novel, I did not expect it to start out like this.

            “If I had not read the cover story in the March 2, 2000, National Enquirer, it’s doubtful that I would have gone to Alabama and ruined my daddy’s engagement party, much less sent the bride-to-be into a coma. Just for the record, I don’t go around hitting other women, even if they are all wrong for my daddy; I don’t read tabloids, and I certainly would never steal one, yet that’s exactly what happened.”

But it sure got my attention.

From the front cover (a shot of a little girls legs, swinging from a huge live oak tree and a perfect eggshell blue airy lace dress), to the pitch-perfect Southern voice that Michael Lee West writes with, I enjoyed this book thoroughly.

Ms. West takes us through the journey of a recently heartbroken girl (blast those foreign men!), Renata DeChavannes, the daughter of a wealthy Alabama family. As she travels back home, learns the real story of her recently-deceased mother and therefore her past, gains 20 pounds, and slowly her happiness and contentment back, I came to love Renata and Company in all their zany Southerness.

Of course, food is a featured part of the story. During her visit, Renata’s grandmother, aunt, and a various asundry of other relatives and neighbors are constantly cooking for her. See how many meals you can spot.


For the rest of the story though, you’ll have to pick up Mermaids in the Basement yourself, but I’ll share a classic crab cake recipe with you (one of Renata’s favorites). Enjoy a good read and good food this weekend!


Crab Cakes


1 pound fresh crab meat (shells removed)

1 egg

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

½ teaspoon mustard (ground or Dijon are also choices)

1 dash of Worcestershire sauce

4 ounces Ritz Crackers, crushed (or breadcrumbs)

2 cups oil (or as needed) for frying

Optional Ingredients:

{feel free to throw in as many or as few extras as you’d like… any chopped veggies are yummy—for consistancy’s sake, I wouldn’t put more than ½ cup of any extra ingredients}









Red bell pepper



1.      Mix crabmeat, egg, mayo, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and any other ingredients you’ve chosen.

2.     Heat vegetable oil to cover a large skillet on high heat.

3.     Roll spoonfuls of crab mixture in the crackers and place ball in hot oil. Flatten slightly with a spatula so the cake is approximately ½ inch thick.

4.     Fry the crab cakes, ensuring both sides get browned.


These are especially yummy with some tartar sauce or remoulade.






3 responses

9 05 2008


12 05 2008
Big John

Helllooooo Ladies!

I’m baaaackk!

I was out of touch for a little while but I am now back.

I don’t know much about Mermaids but I wanted to share a thought. Being that you are both southern women I would have to imagine that you have seen Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon. Man, she is hot! It may be a chick flick but I love that movie! Anyhow, I think you all need to do a movie review on that. I know I mentioned Doc Hollywood (BTW-it was on this weekend! ) but this is a great movie as well. I would love to hear your take on this movie.

I watched the TPC on TV this weekend. Wow, I need to visit Jacksonville ( Ponte Vedra Beach) some time soon. I have been there before but seeing it on TV made it look so beautiful. Maybe when I am up there we can get together and share some ideas for the blog! I will take you all out to eat…on me!

I look forward to your review of Sweet Home Alabama!

12 05 2008
Big John

Hello ladies!

How is everything going for you all?

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