Loretta Goldberg’s fish sauce: turn a boring fish into something interesting.

Making any boring thick fish interesting when your writers’ group (4) comes for dinner.


Parsley-caper sauce. Active time 15 minutes.


Salt, pepper, flour, Panko bread crumbs


Juice of one large lemon

1 tablespoon of drained brine-packed capers

Teaspoon of parsley flakes or fresh parsley

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon melted butter

Pepper and salt to taste

Teaspoon of red wine vinegar


Cut fish into fork size pieces

Lightly dust both sides with salt, pepper and flour.


Blend until smooth but not runny

Brush fish with sauce on both sides and place in microwave suitable dish with coating of oil. Refrigerate then get to room temperature a half hour before guests arrive,

Brush lightly with bread crumbs and microwave for 3-4 minutes.



 I grew up in Melbourne and loved the superb food. My parents shopped weekly at the Victoria Market. Whenever I’m in Melbourne I stay near the Market and Melbourne Baths, those two precious city gems.

Before getting to my debut historical novel, an Elizabethan spy story, I’d like to offer a memory of my childhood food culture. An only child, my family was part of the assimilating Jewish community, but our closest friends were my maternal cousins, also Jewish. Despite this tribal affinity, my fondest food memory is home cooked Christmas plum pudding. How come? It’s a curious bit of sociology.

In the 1930s/40s, three gorgeous brunette young women cousins married. My mother, Myrtle, a musician, married an academic accountant. We were modest middle class and lived in Glen Iris. Cousin Lyona married a barrister and cousin Bonnie married a businessman. They lived in Kew.  My mother always adhered to the biblical admonition to “welcome the stranger.” So when a childless Christian couple moved from Tasmania to our street, Myrtle soon realized that they had no one to celebrate Christmas with. She corralled the cousins into a rotating series of food orgies and full-throttled Christmas observances, complete with gifts and thank you cards. No concession was to be made to the sweltering Melbourne summers in menu or dress!

It became an annual tradition that one cousin would mount the formal lunch, another a simple supper. Every year the pairing shifted. The Christian couple, Eric and Lexie, somehow never hosted a lunch, and only one supper. Maybe they were intimidated by what the cousins produced. The one time I remember eating at Eric and Lexie’s house, it was bought cold cuts and pound cake. But because Eric worked at the Post Office we kids didn’t care. Amateur stamp collectors, we waited in panting excitement for him to bring out his stamp collection, which we drooled over. Occasionally he gave us a few. I often wondered who he left his collection to; certainly it wasn’t us, who’d “welcomed the stranger.”

Being Jewish, of course the food had become ferociously competitive, the simple suppers progressively less simple. Hands down, cousin Bonnie made the best plum pudding in the world, and everything else, if I’m honest. I can still taste her plum pudding. Suffused with alcohol and hung for months in her cellar, served with rich brandy sauce, and the sucking and nibbling we did to get our embedded coins. Myrtle did a mean trifle with passion fruit, and Lyona directed her servants in making sumptuous roasts. Every Boxing Day, compliments flowed and there was a busy exchange of recipes, Somehow, Bonnie’s didn’t turn out right when anyone else tried them. She was the epitome of generosity in every way, except a complete recipe.

Tragically, she died young. She left recipe books, but none for plum pudding. Her son, my cousin David, married a woman who has become a famous chef in France.  People travel for miles to dine and stay at their hilltop medieval Inn. In fact, I was standing in line at a New York supermarket last year, and the couple behind me were raving about their trip to a medieval French hilltop Inn, naming it, and the amazing food. Yet she told me my cousin complained that her plum puddings never came close to Bonnie’s. She lost all confidence in making the dish. No one has ever cracked the code of that unforgettable plum pudding.

Loretta Goldberg




  • Oxford, 31 August 1566, Elizabeth’s royal progress.

In the great hall at Christ Church three evenings later, court and queen were watching Palamon and Arcite, a theatrical spectacle based on Chaucer’s The Knights’ Tale, scheduled to take two nights.

PALAMON: I saw Emilia first! She is mine!

ARCITE: Nay, I did. As the sun marks the dial, yes, your eyes fell on her first. But you cannot say if she is a goddess or maid. A mortal cannot claim a Divine. Your love must stay chaste. But when I espied her walking hither and thither relishing the May sun, I knew her for a ready woman. Therefore, I saw Emilia first.

Palamon and Arcite were young knights who had been bound since childhood by kinship and sworn oaths. Both prisoners of war of the Duke of Athens, their bond had shattered in their lethal quarrel over Emilia, the duke’s sister. Emilia had sworn her own oath: lifelong chastity. But as the tale unfolded, she’d be compelled to marry one of the knights. The playwright, Richard Edwardes, was hammering home the point that England’s semi-divine sovereign maid must do the same. To make sure no one could possibly misunderstand, since the performance was open to the public, Chaucer’s blonde Emilia had red hair.

The hall had been transformed into a theatre. The ceiling had been gilded, and a multitude of candles on walls and in chandeliers cast dazzling light. A temporary stage had been built with retiring rooms for actors; their doors painted to resemble palaces. By tradition, the monarch was part of the performance, so Elizabeth sat on a cushioned throne under a gold cloth canopy on a dais, partly facing the audience. To accommodate a huge crowd, scaffolds had been erected along the hall’s sides. There were boxes on top for aristocrats; standing room below for lower classes. From his box, Latham had a clear view of the stage, queen, ambassador and the audience. Elizabeth’s lips curled in contemptuous amusement. She knew what Edwardes and his councillor sponsors were up to.

PALAMON: You betrayed our lifelong tryst.

ARCITE: Nay, ‘tis you that is false. Forsooth, now each man will be for himself!

Which of Latham’s senses first trumpeted the disaster? Was it the lurch beneath his feet, when he realised he was looking up at the box that had been level with his a moment before? Was it the squeal of unseasoned timbers releasing their bolts? Was it the sight of spectators’ mouths gaping like beached fish, or their shrieks?

Time moved with exquisite slowness as the scaffolding on his side of the hall cracked. He had time to note Elizabeth’s steely calm as she leaned forward to assess the damage before guards hurried her to safety; time to see Palamon and Arcite, who first tried to shout over the disturbance, scrambling in unknightly haste off the stage, dragging a squawking Emilia.

Time sped up. The scaffolding collapsed with a roar. Latham’s box fell, crushing those below. ..










The Reversible Mask draws loosely on the career of Elizabethan adventurer, Sir Anthony Standen. An English Catholic courtier, Standen left Elizabeth I’s court in the 1560s to serve Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots for a while, then spied for Catholic Spain against European Protestants. But when the threat to England intensified, he became one of Protestant Elizabeth’s most effective spies abroad, while still on Spain’s payroll. His reasons were unstated, but he risked his life in her service.

Standen was unknowable, so I created Edward Latham, to bring to life the struggle a sincere Catholic and equally sincere patriot had in finding his place in that turbulent world. Latham’s wanderings on spy missions take him to the Brussels bed of the greatest woman singer of the day, an Emperor’s concubine; to Constantinople, where he witnesses the great comet of 1578; to the banks of the River Scheldt in Antwerp, when the first self-detonating bomb ship explodes, with devastating effect. Laboring to balance faith and patriotism, he’s smooth enough to charm Ottoman officials but earthy enough to get information from deck hands; generous in love, but ruthless in using anyone to get secrets. Set against the backdrop of the beginning of science and terror at its disruptions, he strives to leave his world a little better than he found it.



“This is a glorious novel! Rich in detail and atmosphere, jewel-like in its creation of Elizabethan England, it’s the best kind of historical fiction, transporting readers to a captivating time and place and story. Goldberg does a magnificent job of conveying the intrigue, passion and sometimes sheer sumptuousness of Elizabeth I’s court and politics. I loved it.” Jeanne Mackin, award winning author of fiction and non-fiction. (The Beautiful American; forthcoming A Lady of Good Family; Dreams of Empire; The Queen’s War; The Sweet By and By; andThe Frenchwoman. Penguin,St. Martin’s Press.)

“Goldberg has created a richly detailed world, brought to life with a brilliant cast of engaging characters. The Reversible Maskis a true delight.” Adrienne Dillard. (Cor Rotto, A Novel of Catherine Carey, Catherine Carey: History in a Nutshell Series; Raven’s Widow. MadeGlobal Publishing.)

Reader Comments:

“…The Reversible Maskheld me from start to finish. I loved the span and scope balanced with the individual rhythm of each character. You weaved a story so engrossing that I’m feeling a touch of mourning now that I’ve finished. Thank you for this novel.” Doug Shapiro, Actor, AEA/SAG-AFTRA


 “ …The Reversible Mask, out December 3 from the small boutique publisher, MadeGlobal Publishing, is all thrills and chills. Her story shimmers with the detailed specificity of, say, Proust’s A Remembrance of Things Past, while its roots bring to mind the embedded sensuality that drives Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude. Goldberg’s protagonist, Edward Latham, a dashing Elizabethan double agent, personifies the nerve-tingling tension between passionate patriotism and a tormented Catholic conscience. For all its scholarship this tale of derring-do rollicks along at a terrific pace…” Caroline Thomas, Director Total Theatre Lab.
For full review https://www.facebook.com/totaltheatrelab/posts/1940297499342697


https://www.lorettagoldberg.com for website, blog and pre-order

Available: Amazon; Barnes and Noble; RJ Julia (special order); Book Depository; any good book store.

ISBN: 978-8494853951

ASIN: BO7J5W4Z85 .