Sunday, November 22, 2015

Food. Glorious Food!

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
Food is so important in storytelling. Who else remembers the orphanage food scene in "Oliver"?
Food sets the scene in so many ways. It employs the senses - taste and smell. How it looks, the crunch of it, the slurp of a villain - it adds both to characters and setting. Personality is revealed in the foods we enjoy and share. A sense of where we are is established by the food we eat.

My books tend to feature food. Not to the extent some books do, where they actually share recipes in the back pages, but I do like to imagine my characters eating. Interesting discussions happen over a meal.

If you write fantasy or historical fiction, or are simply interested in history, What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank by Krista Ball is good reading.

I love imagining great restaurant food. It's an excuse to check out menus online, and then, inspired, make up my own perfect meal - without messy cleaning up or the frankly impossible price.

I also share food ideas from my own life. If my characters are in a rush, I try to think what I'd cook in such situations.

It's interesting to read contemporary novels from different eras and see how eating trends shift. Stirfries, pasta, pizza, bbq, all have their time, and then, become dated. Have you ever read a novel where the character uses a pressure cooker? It's so 1950s. Food is a subtle way to position a novel in time.

Last, but not least, food is sensual. In a romance novel, as the characters dance towards intimacy, food can play a major role. It is sharing, indulgence and celebration.

I guess I'd better wind up the post with a recipe, except ... I really don't feel like cooking, today. Nope, not even fictionally.

Anyone want a donut? And while you contemplate that sugary-overload, do you have a book you love for its food?


  1. I love reading about food. The only books that leap to mind are the Inspector Banks books, where the characters often eat in Banks's favourite pub, where he drinks Black Sheep (I hope I've remembered that right), and Annie always looks for the vegetarian option. Food is such a great way to reveal/enhance character.

  2. Hmm. I have had a few books make me hungry. Also, thanks for the donuts! Way to have a poor little writer licking the screen!


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