Food creeps into my stories. Enough so, that people comment on it. But for me, most good things in life revolve around food. I love restaurants. I love to cook, and I love to eat. If there are people together for any length of time, there should be a group meal. So if I have characters hanging out together for a day, I want to know what to feed them. Which character would be the one who cooks? What would he make? Is he gourmet or does he open a can? Which character would just order pizza? A person’s relationship with food tells me a lot about him.
I loved the movie Julie and Julia. The story was fun. The acting was great. The food made me drool. By the time my husband and I left the theater, I couldn’t wait to get home to fry slices of French bread to make bruschetta. Then I went out and bought Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Not that it’s my most used cookbook. Even flipping through its pages is sort of intimidating. But it looks solid and serious sitting beside my grimy, well-used cookbooks. It’s sort of like seeing my Complete PELICAN SHAKESPEARE jostled alongside my favorite mysteries and urban fantasies. It lends a heaviness and substance to my reading material. It adds more purpose to my writing endeavors.
Just as social gatherings of any kind involve food, for me, my protagonists often feel the same way. A somber scene in a novel should involve serious food–like coq au vin or Sunday roasts. A jazzy scene might serve etouffee or po’ boys. A nonchalant evening would veer to chicken wings or spaghetti. Food conveys mood and mindset.
I was enjoying comments on GoodReads a few days ago, and one of the reviewers was talking about a book she absolutely loved, then she said she couldn’t wait for supper because she was going to have toad in a hole. Guess which I looked up first? The review or a recipe. What can I say? My protagonists are usually hungry.