Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Food In Books

I have a question for you – do you notice food in books? Do the edibles of choice for the hero and heroine stick in your mind?

I’m asking you this because I received a very passionate letter yesterday urging me to remove all references to meat eating in my books. I have to say it left me nonplussed, because as a reader I rarely notice what the characters are eating, unless it has some bearing on the story ie. vampires drinking blood.

The only other time I recall being interested in the food was in one of Jayne Ann Krentz's contemporaries, because the hero drank green tea and ate soba noodles. I stopped, thought about it and decided it worked.

So what about you? What's the most memorable food moment you recall from a book? And if you don't remember such a moment, leave a comment about that too!

12 comments :

Bronwyn Jameson said...

I notice the food if it's key to character or the scene. Heck, if it's done really well it can set off instant cravings in me. I love my food, can you tell? *g* One that springs instantly to mind is a Susan Napier (although the title escapes me) where the h/H go to a dessert restaurant and there's definitely a chocolate concoction involved and exquisite sexual and sensual tension. Mmm. Yum.

Milady Insanity said...

I do.

But I live to eat, not eat to live. LOL. My girlfriends joke that I'm going to be the only one of them who's going to eat well while at university. So they are fighting over who's going to be my roomie.

Though the stereotype of the military/police etc type person living on fastfood is getting to me.

Gabrielle said...

I love Barbara Samuels books for many things, one of them being the references to food. I tend to do the same in my writing. In the latest one finished, food played a big part, mainly because she was such a terrible cook and he was vegetarian. Oh, plus there was a lot of discussion about who was making the next batch of margaritas ;-)

You know, I've gone through periods in my life when I try to be vegetarian and I understand the arguments for it and agree--but to ask an author not to mention meat is a little ... hmmm. Was the letter from Joaquin Phoenix? If so, please pass his address on to me ;-)

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Yesterday I was enjoying the book and the hero and heroine stopped to eat... vegetable lasagna..

I was horrified. THIS alpha male was eating VEGETARIAN FOOD.. I put the book down.. I do believe that food is important. I don't know many men who will give up a steak for a WOMAN.

Listening in to primitive male's mind "NO STEAK... new woman." LOL

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Umm... funny I do NOT agree with the vegetarian lifestyle. Protein is a necessary building block to life. My parents went vegetarian when I was a teenager. I have NEVER been so hungry in my life. And I felt ill all of the time.

My sisters, brothers, and I would sneak down to the kitchen and boil and egg. We would scarf it down to the tune of my father's snoring. Then we would sneak back to bed. There were nine children. We did this every night. We would also substitute peanut butter for protein... I HATE peanut butter to this day.

Mel Francis said...

Food is important part of life. I do pay attn to a character's food and drink choices.

And just for the record, my husband, stud and manly man that he is, prefers veggie lasagna over the meat kind. Would he give up meat for me if I asked him to? Yeah, if it was important to me. (of course, I would never ask him too. I was a vegetarian for 5 years and he ate the food I prepared, gladly. But I also still cooked meat for him if he wanted it) But that would bug me in a book because frankly, when people fall in love, the love the other for who they are. And if one is a meat eater and the other isn't, you accept that about each other and move on. To expect one or the other to change wouldn't really be love, in my mind.

I think I just got totally off topic there. LOL

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Was I too hard on the vegetarian thing???

Nalini Singh said...

Bron - you're so right. Desert & sexual tension can go so well together IF done right as you point out. Hmm, you're giving me ideas ;)

Milady - see, I need someone like you around! The recipes on your blog make my mouth water.

Gabrielle, you crack me up! If it had been Joaquin, I might've just written back going "Sure, whatever you want. Want to marry me?" *g* Actually the letter was a file full of stuff about vegan(ism)!

I take your point about food being important when it's part of the story and I agree. It's the whole idea of a total ban on a certain food that had me so surprised.

Cynthia - I don't think you were too hard on it, and I do understand where you're coming from. I think it has to do with how well the writer writes the book whether you believe any aspect of it, inclu the food. Like that JAK book I mentioned - I believed what the hero was eating because he had a background in Japan, so the food choices made sense.

Mel - that's the thing that occurred to me when I was thinking about this letter - the fact that both protagonists would be vegan. As your and your husband show - how likely are two complete vegetarians to meet unless they do so at a vegan convention? It seems to me to be subverting the story for something else entirely.

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I got to admit JAK writes very believable characters and food. :-)

Gabrielle said...

Oh, not mention food at all? Well, that's just crazy!!

Cynthia, I know vegetarians who eat very well and sensibly. To be honest, I wish I could. I try to stay away from anything apart from fish, seafood, chicken and turkey, but some of my closest friends here in Paris own a restaurant and make some of the yummiest meat dishes that I can't resist. But I also know some blokey blokes quite happy to eat vegetarian dishes, especially now that the recipes are so scrummy. Each to his own.

Rosario said...

I love food, so I notice, and actually, I immediately thought of JAK's books when I read the first line of your post. I loved the green-tea-and-soba hero (Deep Waters, right?), and there was a recipe for a salad with walnuts and blue cheese in one of the Eclipse Bay books that I tried and was wonderful.

Nalini Singh said...

I think that's it, Rosario! I couldn't remember the title.