Meet writer Maryvonne Fent

Maryvonne Fent
Maryvonne Fent (photo provided)

Maryvonne Fent is French and grew up in Paris.

After studying classical Indian dancing and music in India for five years, Maryvonne taught in the ethnomusicology departments at Wesleyan University and UCLA. While teaching Indian music, Maryvonne discovered a taste for rock-and-roll, taught herself to play the electric bass, and exchanged her saris for platform boots.

Her husband is American, and a talented recording artist. They live in Hollywood, where Maryvonne shares her time between writing, playing the bass and enjoying her growing American family.

She has published short stories, and has translated several novels and screenplays to be optioned for movies. She’s currently finishing a sequel to The 35¢ Dowry, in which her character Minouche discovers the overwhelming beauty of India, but also its darker side, as she wrestles with the challenge of being married and mastering India’s sacred dance and music.

Maryvonne says that while she is not a big eater, she loves food's presentation. "The color combinations on a plate, sometimes the humorous arrangements of it," she says. "I love to smell the food, taste the food, share the food. I love to describe the food I discover wherever I am, and I have enjoyed doing so in short stories and novels."

Do you think that being a writer helps you appreciate food more?

Maybe not in relation to how much food I put in my mouth… but I do appreciate the looks, the presentation, the smells, the subtle tastes, the history behind dishes, and the ethnic aura of dishes. Food is a wonderful subject of stories and conversations. My brother-in-law was a Cordon Bleu chef at the Sedona Inn in Arizona, and the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. He taught me some of his tricks and techniques. Besides France and India, I traveled all over Europe, and lived in Denmark for two years, where I discovered they serve pickled herrings for breakfast.

Crepes with butter and sugar (photo provided by Maryvonne).

Do you have any favorite cookbooks?

I have recipes that my mother sent me from France for twenty years, so I do not forget the old country. Among all the cookbooks on my shelves, I favor the all American “Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook," a wise and sober Weight Watchers cookbook, and some Indian cookbooks I brought back from India. I have a special "Gourmet LA," published by the Junior League of California, and a "Texas Cowboy Cooking" book I love. And, of course, I have Google and the million recipes it offers when I need something different or new.

Do you ever write about food?

The book I just published features France and India. So I do write about French food in French restaurants, and the discovery of Indian food and spices in Bombay. Doing more of that in the sequel I’m currently editing.

What's your opinion about healthy food and creating budget-friendly meals?

Food is key to health. I like simple food. I love poached fish, steamed veggies spiced with herbs, and grains. I only eat red meat once or twice a week.

What's your favorite snack when you're on deadline?

Trader Joe’s blue corn chips and Camembert cheese. Tuna fish salad and chips…chips,  mostly.