Food and Fiction

I’ve been thinking about food a lot.  About how we think about it, talk about it, choose it, prepare it, enjoy it or feel guilty about it, but mostly how it works in story.   I’ve always said that setting is time, place, and people.  Now I’m thinking it’s time, place, people, and food.  

Here’s what I think about food in fiction.:

It establishes character
The way characters think about food–as a pleasure, as something to be avoided or controlled, as a way of relating to others, as a comfort and escape–can be a great way to characterize them.   In Bet Me, Min’s old boyfriend was always watching calories and paying too much for expensive meals because he liked to control the way things looked; Cal just enjoyed good food because he liked to experience pleasure.  Min was caught between them until Cal seduced her over to the butter side of things.  There were people who objected strongly to that, which I think reinforces the food-is-character theory: they didn’t like Cal because he kept sabotaging her diet.  

And there’s another thing about fictional food: The kind of food makes a difference because it characterizes the people eating it.  For example, hot carbs are comfort food.  In my first published book, long before I was having deep thoughts about food and character, there’s a scene in which the Wrong Guy tries to take the heroine’s mashed potatoes away from her, and she stabs him with her fork because he’s clearly the enemy.   I’ve been using carbs as love ever since–Agnes feeds Shane (and everybody, really) pancakes, Andie makes banana bread for Alice, Nita shares her French toast with Nick, and god knows, people eat thousands of potstickers in my books.  The whole idea of comfort food is a natural match for people in relationships who want to make each other feel warm and loved.  It has nothing to do with calories and everything to do with how good food can make you feel.  It wasn’t until I started thinking about this that I realized I have a protein things, too, with the sausage and ribs that Agnes slings at her men and the eggs that Nita shares with Nick, even before we get to the garlic chicken and mu shu pork later, not to mention the Chicken Marsala that Cal teaches Min to make.  Solid, practical food for solid practical people. 

It shows relationship growth
I pretty much built the relationship between Agnes and Shane on food and sex, and after awhile, Shane collated them because they were both intense pleasures associated with Agnes.   That aligns with research on the dinner date as the first move in a relationship.  Cautious people meet for coffee first; if somebody turns down a love interest’s invitation to dinner, that character is saying no to a lot more than food.  And once people begin eating together regularly, they begin to know each other’s habits and tastes.  One of my favorite food scenes in any movie is from Two Weeks Notice, when, during a business lunch, George puts his ice cubes in Lucy’s drink and then takes her beets.  These people have a relationship, and it’s shown through their assumptions about each other’s food.

But food doesn’t just build romances, it builds all relationships.  In Maybe This Time, Andie knows the kids are in a bad place when she sees the food they’ve been getting.  Alice lets Andie in as her foster mother when Andie makes her banana bread and then shows her how to make it, too.  And it’s not a coincidence that Alice knows the woman who looks like Andie isn’t her when she gets banana bread wrong, it’s one of the cornerstones of their relationship.  

Food is also a good way to show community by showing people who are comfortable sitting down to eat together on a regular basis.  Agnes does that, of course, but I’m also building that deliberately in Nita’s book: Nick and Nita start with breakfast on their own, have dinner with her family and Rab and Dag that evening, have breakfast with Rab,  Dag, and Button the next morning, and end up with Rab, Dag, Button, and Max at dinner that night.  There are plot reasons for all of those meals, but there are character and team reasons, too: eating together builds a fictional family.  

It demonstrates social power 
The person who controls the table, controls the interaction.  My fave example of this from my own work is the dinner scene in Strange Bedpersons because it’s arranged by the wealthy parents of the hero’s best friend to humiliate the blue-collar best friend of the heroine in order to break up her romance with their son.  The heroine gets angrier and angrier and eventually takes over the dinner to defend her friend, using the swanky restaurant as a weapon against the parents.  But there’s also the table scene in Fast Women (“Drink to me, I’ve slept with everybody here”) and the rehearsal dinner in Bet Me that Min controls even though her mother thinks she’s in charge, and the endless breakfast scenes in Agnes where she makes Shane accept Garth and where Lisa Livia meets Carpenter,  finishing with the late night leftover dinner she makes everybody eat when she finds people pointing guns at each other in her kitchen.  I love a dinner scene when my heroine’s in charge.

It reinforces setting (time, place, and people):
It’s probably no secret to anybody here that I love a good diner, and that’s because I love the people who go to diners.  They aren’t people who are trying to impress anybody, they just want to eat good, hot, simple food.  My kind of people.   I also like people who like take-out; these are people who like eating where they live, like inviting others into their spaces to share food without making a big deal out of hard they worked to prepare that meal.  “I ordered Chinese; who wants potstickers?” One of the reasons I’ll never write a historical is the food: there are certain foods I cannot live without and neither can my characters.  

But food also says a lot about place.  We workshopped a story once in my MFA program about a girl who lived in Appalachia and who brought a casserole to the home of somebody whose relative had died.  And the prof, who was brilliant, said, “Couldn’t you think of anything less cliched than a casserole?”  That was one of his less brilliant comments because the fact that it was a casserole was important.  There’s a reason people in middle class and poorer communities bring casseroles: they’re cheap, they’re easy, they freeze really well, and everybody likes them.  Beyond that, they’re a tradition.  It’s what you do in that community unless you’re trying to stand out, make a statement, and this character would not want to stand out, she wants desperately to make sure nobody notices her.  So hell yes, she’d bring a casserole.  That’s part of your time/place/people setting: at this time and in this place, that’s what people do.   

The key to food scenes  is that they have to serve a purpose in the story, eating that food in that time and place with those people has to make a difference to the characters and the plot; so that if you took that food, that meal, out of the story, it wouldn’t work.  Any food scene (like any other scene) must be necessary.

And now I’m starving and must go find food, so it’s your turn..

 What’s your favorite food scene in a book or movie?  Most important, WHY did you like it so much?

 

 

124 thoughts on “Food and Fiction

  1. As noted, Agnes & the ribs. She’s planning food even as chaos swirls. Love that. And the raspberry sauce as weapon.

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  2. Yeah, food, as a primary sensory element, is important stuff. In the novella I wrote last week food is a vital part of the relationship, because my main character is on an uncertain status in the household and the chef in the mansion is someone she knew from her past and who is a super-strong character who has an excellent memory. And yes, what someone finds to be comfort food is often as telling as pages of history. A simple line like “She relaxed as the bite of the curry, a good Thai curry and not those almost ubiquitous Indian curries, reminded her of childhood, air force flight lines, and a house outside of Bangkok,” can tell us vast amounts about a character. Memories from scents and smells or specific things about beloved music also does this. I find that this physical level is as important in getting a character to live on the page as their thoughts and emotions.
    As for favorites, there’s always Fielding’s great scene in the inn in Tom Jones. There’s that incredible scene in the movie version of Of Mice and Men, with that great score by Aaron Copeland turning the sounds of eating into a percussion track. And I loved the scene in Sebastian Falkes’ James Bond novel, Carte Blanche, where Bond uses his regular precisin to make a vinaigrette, which mirrors his earlier specific recipe for a martini in Casino Royale. (Because what someone drinks can tell us as much as what they eat if it’s done right)

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    1. I love that scene in Tom Jones, it’s so luscious and lascivious and joyful, with the chicken bones going over the shoulder.

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  3. Min trying to make a low calorie version of chicken Marsala and giving up.
    She surrendered to the idea of comfort (and sex)

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  4. It’s been a long time, but in the movie “Witness,” the heroine gives her Amish fella a glass of lemonade, and he sips it carefully and tamely. When she later does the same with Harrison Ford, he gulps the whole thing down with gusto, like a thirsty man of passion and vigor. Her eyes go wide, and you know just what’s she thinking. 🙂

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  5. PS I love thinking about this in fiction, but it breaks my heart in real life. I used to be able to eat anything, anywhere, without thinking about it. I ate street food in questionable sanitary conditions all over the world. I was always the easy one in a group, just go with the flow and accommodate the picky eaters.

    Now, due to chronic migraines related to hormonal changes, I have many dietary restrictions (no gluten, dairy, soy, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, etc.). I have to read every label, study every menu, quiz the waiter, and question the host. People feel sorry for me for all that I’m missing, but the thing I miss the most is my identity as an easy-going adventurous eater.

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    1. You’re still an easy-going adventurer, though. You’re just a HUNGRY easy-going adventurer.

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      1. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has the same problem, so at a fantasy workshop, she assigned us to write short stories based on food. She basically said that she could no longer eat adventurously, so our job was to make her taste and smell everything in her mind.

        I ended up falling in love with Francis Lam’s description of Chinese Barbecue (http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s/2009/08/ho-ho-bbq.html & http://www.gourmet.com/food/2009/07/the-last-chinese-bbq-edition.html) and writing a story based on that.

        Months later, we went to visit my grandmother in Scarborough and stumbled upon Ho Ho BBQ. I noticed a Gourmet Magazine printout near the cash and realized that this was the exact restaurant immortalized by Francis Lam! Si-fu was extremely nice and gave a free sample of pork skin to my young son (whom I was trying to keep vegetarian, but the battle’s long over now). My son chewed it thoughtfully and smiled.

        It breaks my heart that ethnic chefs can be geniuses, but never garner the attention and the money. It’s kind of like what Jenny said diners, honest people making real, unpretentious food, only tougher because you have a narrower market appeal.

        At the risk of sounding self-promotional, the story I wrote based on Chinese BBQ, “Fairy Tales Are For White People,” was published here, with glorious art: http://firesidefiction.com/issue30/chapter/fairy-tales-are-for-white-people/ and will appear in the Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2017.

        Back to Jenny’s work: cooking is also a big part of Getting Rid of Bradley. Lucy and Zach bond over making nachos, and you know they’re both good people because they’re slipping nachos to the dogs. Which I feel ambivalent about because I try not to feed dogs people food, and makes me seem like the bad guy by comparison–but Lucy, Zach, Einstein, Maxwell and Heisenberg are irresistible!

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  6. For me, it’s that scene in Two Weeks Notice around the middle of the movie when Sandra and Hugh are eating out and talking about oh, whatever girl they’re going to hire as her replacement. Meanwhile, completely silently, they’re swapping out the stuff on their plates that they don’t like but the other one does. At one point she kind of mutters “beet, beet” when he missed one, but that’s about all that she does to call attention to it. That’s a good subtle bit of business there.

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  7. One comment about eating where you live and takeout: if you come from a culture where feeding someone is an expression of love, you don’t think about the effort involved, and neither do your guests.

    When my family are all together and it’s my Dad’s turn to cook, he’ll get takeout for us all because with his family background, that’s special. When it’s my Mum’s turn, she’ll make us eggplant parmigiana because with her background that’s special. One is more work than the other, yes, but they’re equally about welcoming us into their home and showing love, not showing off.

    Agnes does the same.

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  8. You know, I honestly can’t think of any food scenes right now that really stayed with me except the ones in Jenny’s books and the ones in books that are specifically about chefs.

    I’ve read a few contemporary romances by other people that really did the food scenes well, but it wasn’t quite the same thing because at least one of the protagonists worked with food professionally. The chocolate series by Laura Florand comes to mind. All her food scenes are great.

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    1. Laura Florand’s chocolate series! When the pale recovering-from-nearly-being-beaten-to-death heroine eats one artisanal chocolate and Dominic (who created it) stands upstairs at the window watching her and then rushes downstairs to make her up a box of the ones he thinks might tempt her appetite.

      And the grandfather’s crusade to meld chocolate with spinach.

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      1. The spinach thing was really funny. I love it when Sylvain just shakes his head and tells the grandfather to give it up already.

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    2. I was just thinking of Florand! I like how the hero and heroine in Chocolate Kiss keep trying to tempt each other into eating their creations, and neither of them wants to be the first to crack. Then there’s the part where she gets him to hold a block party (I think during a snow storm) and they feed the whole street – shows community.

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    3. Guys, tell me “The Chocolate Thief” gets better. I am going from not understanding Cade to disliking her. I’m at Chapter 12, her second break in.

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  9. One of my favorite scenes is in Faking It when (I don’t have the book in front of me and there is a cat sitting on my lap giving himself a bath so I can’t get up and check) Nadine explains to Davy the difference between a man who is a muffin and one who is a donut. I laughed and laugh over that. It helped that at the time I read it, my sister was dating a guy who first approached her by offering her a muffin.

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  10. I love the food scenes in Moonstruck. Especially the final scene where everything is coming to a head in the kitchen. All these secrets are getting blurted out, and it’s the kind of stuff that could tear relationships apart, but everyone’s sitting around eating oatmeal together, so you know it’s going to be ok. In that scene food is ordinary, unconditional love, so when Ronnie says “Yes Mrs. Casterimi, I would love some oatmeal” you know he doesn’t just want the passionate moonlit affair. He wants the oatmeal in the kitchen as the shit hits the fan parts of Loretta’s life too. He wants to be her family, not just her lover.

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    1. Cate, this is exactly the scene that came to my mind. It’s one of my all-time favorite scenes on film.

      When Jenny wrote, “The person who controls the table, controls the interaction”, it brought to mind Rose serving everyone their oatmeal, then sitting in her seat at the head of it (although her husband probably things he’s at the head of it :-)) with just a cup of coffee. And then she starts getting her ducks in a row. Brilliant scene in so many ways.

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    2. Ooooh yeah. And some of the biggest laughs. “Give any more of my food to those dogs, old man, and I’ll kick you to death.”

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    3. “Yes, Mrs Castorini, I would love some oatmeal.”

      First scene that came to my mind too.

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  11. I liked the scene in the movie Chocolat when the uptight bigoted mayor couldn’t stand against the temptation of the window display of the chocolate shop anymore; broke in, and frantically ate everything. He was such an unpleasant man, but that scene made him so human and just as fragile as anyone.

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  12. Every time I read Agnes and the Hitman I end up eating pancakes.

    I think the postcredit scene of The Avengers fits with what you are talking about too, when they are sitting around eating their schwarma. Nobody is talking, but they are a team.

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    1. I just rewatched this movie over the weekend. I do love the team=family dynamic there.

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  13. I’m kinda stuck on Jenny books, too -got a tired brain – but she mentioned most of them. She mentioned Agnes’ pancakes and I jump d immediately to Garth and the ribs. The other ones that stand out that haven’t been mentioned: the ice cream maker in Wild Ride (Cindy, yes?) and the cookie scenes in Dogs and Goddesses. Oh, and Fun feeding Mab hot dogs – that woman was tightly strung.
    There have been a couple of times when an author got the food thing so wrong the book went thump on the wall. There was a medieval romance where the impoverishedheroine was shut in a room and refused to eat a pear tart in her dudgeon. Nope. Even rich people didn’t eat pear tarts every day- she was principled but she wasn’t stupid and she’d known hunger. She’d have eaten it. The second was a time travel book where the protagonist took great offense that ancient Romans didn’t use butter, and she had to cook her trout almandine in olive oil. Whatever, xenophobic, I think the lack of feminine hygiene would present more of a problem.

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  14. There was an old silhouette or some such book where sharing food with her date on a restaurant took her to her childhood when her biologist/zoologist parents would share food in whichever camp they were at, even if the had the same things on their plates.

    The food switch thing happens early in the Buffy series with Xander and Willow. She checks her lunch from home and finds some kind of sweet snack in a packet, maybe chocolate covered peanuts or something similar. He checks his and finds an apple. They look at each other and swop.

    It placed their friendship as well established. Show don’t tell. No wonder I’m a Whedonist.

    Potstickers are great but were I to write a recurring food, it would be samoosas. Nothing says comfort wrapped in nutrition like a good moong dal samoosa.

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    1. Ditto. My best friend is Indian and her mother was an amazing cook. My mother thought the invention of restaurants was right up there with the printing press. So between the two of them my comfort foods include Indian & Szechuan.

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  15. Can you guess how many times I’ve had buttered toast and fried eggs (soft yolks) for supper since I read the Nita drafts? Must be at least six times. I even cut the toast into triangles so I have points. (It’s all win-win — carb, protein and I can add a fruit or veg, and it’s super-easy for supper.)

    One of my favorite films about food and people is Tampopo. I can still remember the gangster eating raw eggs off his lover’s belly, and going on about wild boar. The main star of the film is the ramen noodles, which goes through an amazing arc to bring together the people who are trying to support it. I’m going to have to watch that one again.

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    1. Oh, me, too. I’ve been going through eggs and bread like a madwoman.

      And then I found this recipe that I think is going to end up in the book. You put mayo on two slices of bread with cheese in between them, mayo side out; yes, a toasted cheese sandwich. Fry on one side, flip, cut a circle out of the middle and break an egg into the hole. Fry the cut-out along side it. I’d known about the hole=in-the-bread egg before, but mayo instead of butter was new (I was appalled until I remember that mayo was oil, vinegar, and eggs) and then the whole cheese sandwich instead of one piece of bread put it in entirely new territory. I’m never making toasted cheese with butter again.

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      1. Holy moly! Mayonnaise-fried sandwiches!

        Here in Japan, they use mayonnaise quite often as a butter substitute — recently I had mayo and fake crab stuffed into shiitake mushrooms and baked. But I’ve never seen it used for grilled sandwiches. The extra vinegar and spices would make the sandwich extra tasty, I bet.

        I know a guy who swears by grilled cheese with olive oil. I did a side-by-side with butter, and he was right — the olive oil makes a crispier, more texturally satisfying sandwich, but . . . butter. I wind up plopping a little bit of butter into hot olive oil, and frying my sandwiches that way.

        The good people at Kraft have come up with a crazy processed cheese slice that is stuffed with cream cheese. That paired with pastrami, stuffed inside a sandwich and then fried with mayo? Mmmm! Probably heart attack on a plate, but with a nice fruit salad would make a great summer supper.

        Why am I so hungry? I just had a great breakfast? LOL.

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  16. One of my favorite ways food is handled is in Tolkein. Food is integral to the characterization of the hobbits. It sustains them, binds them, sometimes gets them in trouble; one of the most delightful scenes of triumph is Merry and Pippin’s gleeful feast after defeating Saruman with the Ents’ help. They just luxuriate in all that wonderful food they find in the storeroom (and, of course, relax with an after-meal smoke.) It’s so honest and unabashed.

    The elves, on the other hand, don’t seem to eat anything but lembas, and it sets them up right away as these ethereal, not-quite-mortal beings.

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  17. Food and food preparation as character and expression of love is a big thing in manga and anime, particularly shojo (“girl”) manga. I’m rather fond of the trope of the girl who manages to stuff up cooking for the boy of her dreams, and often there’s a show-down with her rival who of course presents a perfectly prepared dish, but he eats our heroine’s food (even if he doesn’t admit just yet that he really cares).

    One of the scenes that leaps to mind is in W Juliet. Ito makes a massive pot of flan caramel for Makoto for his birthday (there’s a reason that she makes flan caramel), only to be told by her rival that Makoto hates flan caramel. Said rival has prepared all his favourite dishes to demonstrate just how much better she knows Makoto and how much more she loves him. Hijinks ensue while Ito tries to get rid of the flan caramel before Makoto opens the present. And, of course, he opens it and eats the whole lot because he’d eat anything Ito made. It turns out the reason he hated it was because his father would sit there and eat flan caramel while yelling at Makoto, but Ito gave it a new association for him.

    And then there’s Akane, who can’t boil water without burning it, but Ranma always eats her cooking, complaining and teasing her about it the whole time (because they just can’t stop fighting all the time).

    Almost every shojo manga has food in the storyline somewhere.

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    1. Oh man, yes, all the poor shojo heroines trying to cook for their love interests (who often cook even better than the heroines because they had to learn to take care of the single dad/younger sibling, it’s manga cliche #517 😉 ). It also shows a lot about the culture, like how in Japan the tradition at Valentine’s Day is for the girl to offer homemade chocolates to her love interest.

      It is probably no surprise that most of the scenes you listed above are my favorite Crusie scenes, from the mashed potatoes of Manhunting to the banana bread of Maybe This Time. (Another part I loved about Maybe This Time was Alice objecting to nuts and Andie saying “then don’t eat it” and then Alice eats it anyway– actually, just the whole power struggle of a parent trying to get a picky kid to eat and choosing her battles: okay, you can have the sugary cereal for breakfast, but if you want cookies, you gotta take it or leave it.)

      Going back to manga/anime, I was thinking of all the food scenes in the Miyazaki movies, like Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle. He always takes such care in animating how they eat, and they never seem to do so daintily– they take huge bites, or slurp up a fried egg in one gulp so they don’t drop any. Whether they’re gluttons eating like soon-to-be-literal pigs, or just hungry growing children, they all eat with gusto and pleasure.

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      1. I’m not really up on all the anime and manga, but I’ve seen Howl’s Moving Castle at least three times (probably more). The way the characters show love without saying love is just amazing, and so heart-tuggingly Japanese. I love the loving (platonic?) interaction between Calcifer and Sophie — I can’t remember if this is spoiler or not, so you’ve been warned if it matters, but since Calcifer has Howl’s heart, I’m not quite sure. Sophie’s affection is very motherly at times. But True Love (the long-lasting kind) is often very protective and nurturing. Sophie’s love towards Calcifer is always protective and nurturing, even when she’s spurring him to new challenges.

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  18. I love this article because it’s so true. Stopped for lunch at a place called Tender Greens with my son and his girlfriend. They ordered one plate of chicken and veggies and two sets of cutlery. They ate from the same plate. Now me, if I share a plate I ask for two smaller plates and dish it up. An old fusspot, I suppose.

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  19. I love the food scenes in the Mirror has Two Faces. Jeff Bridges defends Barbra’s food choices to her mom over a family dinner. And later in the movie he “gets” her quest for the perfect bite, and asks the waiter to bring just what she needs for her meal.

    And, that quick line in the Godfather, “take the Cannoli”.

    Food and drink is everywhere in Kristen Ashley’s book Sweet Dreams. The hero actually says once that Food isn’t love. Then later in the book, he reverses his opinion and tells her that the way she does food is Love. They main characters have very different backgrounds, and the food scenes are there all throughout the story as they get together.

    Of course, Min and Agnes are my favs.

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  20. Oh, oh, the dinner scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary, where Mark helps Bridget make marmalade and blue soup! Because even though he ribs her about it, you know he loves her just as she is. Blue soup and all. I loooove that one. 🙂

    I’ve got a WIP with a character who’s gone from being a chef to a restaurant manager, and he’s a complete micromanager of everything else too, so that fits. I’ll have to explore how that might unfold as a metaphor…

    Another WIP is set in a dystopian futrue, and two characters do share food–trouble is, I’m not sure what exactly one eats in the Mad Max/post-global-warming ruins of society. I think there’s trail mix in there as a placeholder. Sigh. THAT one definitely needs some work… ! At least the characters who are sharing it are bonding as teammates at the time?

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  21. My favourite is Min and Calvin (and the nephew). Eating hotdogs and Krispy Kreme at the park. “Look at me like that!” And the dinner with Calvin’s parents and how Min takes over because they are horrible to Cal and he deserves better.

    And that mashed potato scene in Manhunting (love that book). He deserved that fork!

    Non-Crusies? The Laura Florand chocolate series. The orange juice that helps introduce Angharad / Harry / Harimad-Sol in Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword. And McKinley’s Sunshine where she’s a baker in a diner/restaurant (they sell champagne by the glass to go with your meatloaf). (There’s orange juice in that one, too, in a pivotal scene.) And yes, Moonstruck. And Star Wars (blue milk and the breakfast with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen which led to hundreds of hours analyzing which one Luke was related to based on their actions at the table). And the scene at Brighton in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever where our heroine seduces Tentrees with her wine glass. (Streisand was terrific in that.)

    And I want to thank Jenny for writing about Min and food because I stopped being guilty about enjoying and being seen to enjoy a great meal. Thank you.

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        1. Nag, nag, nag.
          Nick has now lost his memory and is ranting in medieval Italian, and somebody’s tried to kill Nita again. I’m working.

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          1. I remember when I first came to Japan, and I’d have dreams in Japanese that was beyond my level, and not understand a single thing my subconscious was throwing up. I can only imagine what it’s like with Nick now, but I do hope it’s entertaining!

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    1. I ended up buying Manhunting (and Strange Bedpersons) last night for my Kindle due to remembering the mashed potatoes and the fork scene. 🙂

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      1. This reminds me: The Cinderella Deal e-book is going on sale in the middle of June through Book Bub. I’ll put up a post on it when it comes time, but here’s your head’s up to save $ if you were thinking about that one.

        I’ll try to put this on the reading post, too, so more people see it.

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  22. I love Bet Me in part because chicken marsala is one of my favorite dishes.

    My critique group will tell you that they end up hungry after reading my stories. I can’t help but have lots of food scenes because that’s how I roll. Big family meals, diner breakfasts, girls’ night with nachos and margaritas, guys’ poker night with pizza and beer. I can’t even count how many scenes involve food.

    Food=love, for sure.

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  23. Georgette Heyer always has at least one food scene, usually a dinner, in her romances. I love them all. The descriptions of those dishes alone make me salivate.

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    1. I always love the argument scene in These Old Shades where Rupert winds up Fanny’s husband by offering him beef at inopportune moments.

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  24. Tampico. Eat drink man woman. Our neighbors and we had a Sunday night food movie series at one point.

    But — there is a dark side. There is a movie about a traveling artist in Georgian England where all the fruit symbolizes something negative–ending up with a murder and someone eating the pineapple of hospitality. The Draughtmans Contract.

    And in families, there is a lot of negative control over food. Food pushers who want you to eat when you aren’t hungry to show you love them. Parents that withhold food from kids they think are too heavy. I had one who did both–a real recipe for disaster.

    My husband and I cook a lot and we make food our kids like. But I’m really careful not to regulate how much they eat…

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    1. Yeah, that’s why I stopped having dessert after dinner unless we have guests. We have afternoon tea – cake, cookies, icecream, stuff like that happens then – but I don’t make my kids eat all their dinner just so they can have dessert. They have to give everything a try, and I’m not going to produce multiple meals to keep everyone happy, but if they’re full or just don’t like it then that’s fine, they don’t have to eat. And no one’s starved yet. It was one of my brightest ideas as a parent, and instantly took most of the battle out of mealtimes.

      3+
    2. Same with the not regulating kids. My grandmother insisted we finished our plates. Then would lament my weight. Then offer me food. I need the eye roll emoji on my computer.

      So, I’m doing my best not to do that to my kids. I want them to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. It becomes interesting when my parents come to visit. My mom is rolling with it better, but my dad, he really struggles. I never thought he would, but it really bothers him when my eldest doesn’t finish (or even refuses to touch) his plate.

      4+
    1. Don’t worry! It was an interesting glimpse into the Mind of Google. Why in the world would Tampico be such a popular word, I wondered. So much so that Tampopo would be changed into it? I’m still mystified why an agave fiber/drink is something on autocorrect’s radar, but it was a fun little side trip.

      0
      1. Tampico is an earlier cultural reference, lyrics of a popular song. I’m thinking Harry Belafonte. Thus proving Google is a Boomer.

        2+
  25. Is there an actual retail I pie for Agnes’s sour cream pancakes? I have experimented and am still looking for something I think fits the bill.

    For food I always think of When Harry met sally. How he learned to appreciate how she ordered. Most of the ones in books are in series that feature cooks of some sort. Kerry greenwood has a series about a baker and I love bread. Her descriptions just make me drool.

    3+
      1. I’ve always meant to figure one out. I have for every book since then, but I did not make Agnes’s pancakes.
        Good project for this week maybe.

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    1. The ratio for pancakes is 4 parts flour: 4 parts liquid: 2 parts eggs: 1 part butter/fat. I think sour cream would be an odd combination of liquid and fat, if that helps at all.

      0
      1. James Beard in his American Cookery has a recipe for buttermilk pancakes in which you can substitute yoghurt or sour cream. The trick is to add more milk so the batter is thinner instead of thick and gloppy. I prefer pancakes on the thin side as opposed to the flannel texture most commonly served in restaurants.

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    2. I was also thinking of When Harry Met Sally, specifically when they are discussing the wedding cake, coconut with chocolate sauce on the side.

      0
      1. I have used this one! I think it came the closest to my imagination. I had a hard time balancing “tang” with texture. To make the batter thin enough I lose the sour cream tang.

        0
  26. I loved all the food in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books (I read them to my kids). You can tell how hungry Laura was much of the time by her focus on food. In By the Shore of Silver Lake (I think), the Ingalls family moved into a cabin previously used by surveyors who had left tins of exotic foods. In another story, Mother sends water with ginger in it to the thirsty men in the field. Best is Farmer Boy, the story of Alonzo’s youth on a farm in upstate New York. The book is all about food. I particularly liked the tale of the homemade lemonade.

    5+
    1. This comment reminded me of the interesting ways food is used in The Hunger Games–there, food is wealth, control… power. And Katniss gives much more living and detailed descriptions of the food in the train to the capital than of, say… Most people’s physical appearances.

      And it’s love when Rue’s district sends the bread, and when Peeta burns loaves, of course.

      0
  27. Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes subtly sexy scenes around food that always come to mind when I think of how to best move a H&H from adversaries to a stage that’s a shade softer. There is great subtext in the Match Me If You Can car scene in which Heath repeatedly swipes Annabelle’s Starbucks drink while he’s on the phone being a macho executive and she’s trying, unsuccessfully, to assert herself as a savvy businesswoman. It’s cute, but it’s also so revealing of character.

    1+
  28. Eat Drink Man Woman is one giant foodgasm.

    I’m working on a Contemporary about a woman, a former dancer, who loathes cooking. She’s raising her younger siblings, so she has to provide food. In my first draft, she made terrible dinners requiring an absolute minimum of effort, but Jilly suggested that somoene as disciplined as she is would take a different approach. So now the hero opens her freezer to find 28 perfectly portioned dinners–4 each of 7 menus. She practically uses beakers and test tubes when she cooks. And reading this made me realize that by the end of the book that needs to change.

    4+
  29. You have the most memorable food scenes for me. I had no interest in mushrooms at all before you wrote about chicken Marsala. You made them sound appetizing, the chicken more than the mushrooms, but I had to make it. The mushrooms are a part of that, so I had to eat a few. Still not my favorite, but I eat some whenever I make chicken Marsala. My husband was shocked. The power of great writing.

    I also loved the schwarma scene in The Avengers. We never get to see the heros recovering after saving the world. The dinner roll scene and grilled cheese making in Benny and Joon always makes me smile. The pies in Pushing Daisies, I love the Pie Hole in general.

    2+
    1. Yeah, I think I started making chicken marsala after Bet Me too. I put mushrooms in it for my husband but hell no I’m not eating them.

      He’s gluten and dairy free so sadly, I can’t make it with butter. I use a mixture of broth and marsala usually. We like it. And my 9 year old has decided she loves the gravy so much that she’ll eat the chicken.

      I really try not to engage in the food wars with my kids. But I think we’re sending out a bunch of mixed messages. Some days it’s “eat 1-3 bites” and on bad days it’s “clear your plate” If I’m not sure they’re going to like it, I usually only give them 4-6 bites of it and tell them they need to eat 1/2.

      And then they surprise me by eating all my steak at a restaurant after I offered them a bite…

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  30. So, so many good ones, but the one my college friends and I loved but also laughed about was cheesecake in the Golden Girls. Almost every other episode, they wouldn’t be able to sleep because they were worried about something, they would get up and eat cheesecake and talk and solve their problems. It was like the Care Bears and the Care Bear stare, it solved every problem.
    We sometimes would watch a rerun and go out and get cheesecake in their honor.

    1+
  31. Edmund gorging himself on Turkish delight in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe showing his lack of self control. Actually there is a lot of eating in that book: Lucy has tea with the faun, they have a meal with the beavers.

    There’s a Peter Whimsey book where he eats with a young woman (not Harriet Vane) who appreciates food and drink and he doesn’t have to order champagne for her. I don’t remember what they eat but you can tell he takes her seriously by what they eat.

    I told my husband about this post and comments over dinner and he thought of Agnes and the Hitman. Might be time for pecan pancakes again.

    3+
    1. Oh, that’s in The Unpleasantness At The Bellona Club, and it’s one of my favourite scenes of any Wimsey book! She’s had a rough time and is a bit abrupt, but she shows herself to have sense, taste, and class, and he decides to introduce her to a friend of his (I think). This is just after he’s pried out all her secrets by telling her that many things in life are beastly, including digestion, but we do eventually get past them.

      2+
  32. We’re finally watching Parks & Rec, so that’s what I have on the brain and I’m having trouble remembering anything else.

    The first time I thought that Leslie and Ron made sense as a team was when they went to the diner after…some event…it’s late at night, and they both order breakfast food. He gets eggs and bacon, all protein, she gets a waffle with like mounds of whipped cream or ice cream, all carbs, but they’re both breakfast foods and while you know of his love for breakfast food by this point, she’s the one who makes the comment, “why would you order anything else?” And then they both sit there in blissful silence eating their food. And that was the point that I was like, oh, they do connect, they do work, how interesting, because up to that point, they seemed like such an incorrect pairing, her with her love of government, and him being a libertarian.

    2+
  33. One thing to remember in all of this, though — if the food items are something the reader won’t eat then the scene isn’t going to go off as planned. I love nuts, but they are not ingredients in my menu choices, they’re snack items. (I got a box of pecan cinnamon roll pancake mix from a friend, and one of the reasons I haven’t made it yet is becaue I’m not psyched up about sifting it to get the pecans out of the mix) Also, soft eggs are unpalatable to me, so when something like that comes up I have to focus to get past the revulsion. This gave me trouble in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, as Bond, like many brits, likes soft boiled eggs. (Tehre’s a squick factor for Wodehouse sometimes too with this) So the sensuality of food can work to the writer’s advantage, but it also might turn some readers off. On the other hand, leaving any possible allergies out of the dynamic, I don’t know of anyone who wouldn’t feel a connection to someone who gave him or her a nice sweater made out of high quality fabric, one that felt like a hug every time it was worn. I’ve also had partners who were overjoyed when I wrote songs for them. And so far I have yet to encounter someone who chose to spend a lot of money to have a signature perfume or cologne made that was designed to work with the person’s body chemistry. (An expensive demonstration of affection, to be sure)
    None of this, of course, is to imply that I begrudge your culinary choices. Please, feel free to eat up all the Snickers bars so I don’t accidentaly get one by mistake.

    1+
    1. I will gladly take all the Snickers bars. 😉

      Turning people off by the food you describe is always a danger, but I think we can’t worry overmuch about it, because it’s A: Inevitable (no matter what food you choose, there will always be people who love it and people who are sickened by it– often in the same family!) and B: Not Insurmountable (I personally can’t stand mushrooms and so chicken marsala isn’t really my thing, but I still adore and empathize with how much pleasure Min and Cal take from it).

      1+
    2. What I have found is that there is always someone somewhere who will object to something. I’ve gotten a lot of good reviews for having older heroines (in their thirties, kill me now) and then there was the woman who told me that was horrible because women would think it was okay to wait until they were in their thirties to have children, which was just wrong. And if you think food can be a deal breaker, try love interests. (I still get complaints about Phin and Cal.)

      Write what you need to write. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to read it. You cannot, absolutely cannot, write a book that is inoffensive to everybody, and if you did, it would be horrible.

      9+
    3. It’s an interesting point, but I think it’s firmly in My Cup of Tea/Not My Cup of Tea territory. A writer has to write what resonates with her or him. For every nut-hater, there is a nut-lover, and for every sweater-lover, there’s someone who has awful memories of scratchiness or garishness or moths or something. I don’t think we have to be particularly careful about stuff like that.

      A truly fantastic writer can get past any of that. Almost everyone is against pedophilia, but Nabokov managed to make a great work out of it. (Not a nice work, and not a warm-and-fuzzy work, but something that sticks in your head no matter how many times you try to wash it out.)

      The reader always has the option of saying, “Not my cup of tea” and closing the book.

      I finally walked away from the James Bond series after about three — not for the boiled eggs, though. (I kept trying to like them — Bond is such a cultural icon and I do like his meta image, but I can’t stand what Fleming wrote. So heartless and with no consideration for other humans, particularly females.)

      (-: I really, really like that your take away from the Bond series was too many soft-boiled eggs. I’m glad you shared that.

      I remember reading Stephen Fry’s The Hippopotamus, and enthusiastically sharing that because of the clever writing — then I re-read it, and realized I’d completely blocked out some very, very nasty sex scenes. Completely in line with the character and the plot, but still, maybe not something I should be recommending willy-nilly.

      1+
      1. Bond for me is very similar to Parker in Richard Stark’s novels about the super-thief. He’s a man who does what he does to be effective. But that changes in the book, In Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and if you can make it to that book it’s well worth the time, because we see Bond in a different light. The movie by the same name also follows the original book better than any of the others. But so much of Bond is about sensation. Not only his food choices and sexual exploits, but also things like how he takes showers or where he gets his cigarettes. (A habit that no actual spy would allow himself or herself to indulge in, because it would be too much of a trademark)
        This reminds me of a humorous little thing one rainy Sunday morning when I was throwing my paper route. (Yes, I threw newspapers as a kid because I wanted the money) My dad would drive us on rainy mornings, and there was a story on NPR by a guy who was talking about vegetable soup. His mother’s was a thing to be feared, dark and thick and gloppy and bubbling like a mud pit at Yosimite. Then his wife told him she was making it and the old primal fears set in. Here was this woman he loved very much and she was going to torture him with this foul concoction he hated. So she sets the bowl down before him and there’s this reddish orange liquid with a few pieces of vegetables in it, a bit of meat, and no sign of anything looking primordial. He tastes it, and it tastes neither burned nor sour. Confoundment of expectations. And the crisis was averted.

        1+
        1. I’m very attracted to the Bond-length book right now — something I can finish in an afternoon quite easily. So, maybe I’ll check out the later ones. I think it was the third or fourth one when I checked out of the Bond Hotel. Little snippets and images are brilliant (shaken not stirred), but I haven’t liked the Bond movies I’ve seen very much (granted, it’s not very many).

          Oh well, different tastes. Ian Fleming was definitely a writer who wrote for himself, and the rest could go to hell. He also wrote Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, which my mother adored. (-: When you name a heroine Truly Scrumptious, you aren’t paying any attention to a craft manual or potential reviewers.

          I’m right in the middle of a Salinger (Bond-length!) about Seymour, and he’s going on about reviewers and writing and the observation of the thing observed, and I’m loving it entirely! Even though he’s got parenthetical asides, footnotes, and asks the reader to flip back to the quotations at the beginning of the chapter (so far, twice. Audacious man.). As you can probably tell, I have a thing for parenthetical asides, and I adore a good footnote in fiction. Not so crazy about quotations, but Salinger is using his to good effect.

          Not many authors that I’ve read ask the reader to go through such gymnastics.

          0
          1. Well, Truly wasn’t Fleming’s creation, that came from the writers of the musical. (In the original story the inventer has a spouse) And I wish he’d lived to write more of those, as the original is a great tale.

            1+
          2. I looked it up on Wikipedia and my eyes about popped out of my head when I saw the film was written by Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes. That Mr. Dahl is everywhere . . . .

            However, Wiki says the film is loosely based on Fleming’s 1964 novel . . . . If you’ve got links, I’d love to see them, because this sounds like a fascinating evolution of creativity, no matter who came first.

            This is also Wikipedia, but apparently the Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang book sequels were farmed out to Frank Cotrell Boyce. (-: I didn’t even know there were sequels, but a flying car deserves some! (Just like Herbie the Love Bug.)

            (-: This is so fun! I’m learning a lot here! (And now, if a flying car ever shows up in my work, I’ll have the courage to just go ahead and write it!)

            1+
          3. I don’t have a link, bcause I’ve listened to the book in the last few years, and I loved the movie so much as a kid, so I could compare. Fleming got sick soon after he started the stories, so he didn’t manage to write any past the first one. (He also didn’t finish The Man With the Golden Gun either) I wonder if the sequels were sequels to the original story or the movie? And as a note, there was no candy whistles in the book either, and the foes weren’t pirates or nobles, they were a band of outlaws. And now I’m wishing someone would do a descriptive version of this movie, as I would like to listen to it again. (I am far more likely to repeat a movie than a book, for some reason) And as for Mr. Dahl, he has some great short fiction, collected into anthologies. I like his adult fiction more than his children’s, and I adore his children’s works.

            1+
        2. Just wanted to throw in my favourite Bond line: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

          I wrote it in my diary. Sometimes, when people done me wrong, I would look at them and think, _Three times is enemy action._

          4+
          1. Goldfinger is a good read, and it’s got some different structure from the books that came before it. And that’s an old Chicago Mob line. I use it all the time, as I’m a pattern based thinker, so I tend to let things slide if they happen once or twice but if someone does something three times then I start taking actions to change it.

            1+
          2. I’ve always said, “Once is nothing, twice is a coincidence, three times means something,” but I like this MUCH BETTER.

            1+
          3. Re: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

            I love that sentiment, too. I think I ran across it in Bujold. Bujold also makes good use of the old chestnut, plans never survive first contact with the enemy. (Google tells me that is originally from a guy called Helmuth von Moltke.)

            There’s a kinder, gentler version of the first saying: three times is pattern. Which implies that the enemy can also be oneself. “I’m always crashing in the same car” sort of thing.

            1+
      2. I had to read The Hippopotamus in college; it was…… interesting. (This is the one with the teen boy with “miraculous healing powers”, right?) I was rather turned off by the end of it, but I copied out one paragraph in particular that I still adore, where the narrator/author goes off on a rant of “remember and pity the poor bloody poet”, who has no specialized tools but the same old words that everyone uses daily, so don’t begrudge them the occasional use of obscure “fancy” words, etc… 😀

        1+
        1. Yes, that’s it. I love the way Stephen Fry uses language, and I laughed many, many times. I don’t know how I could have forgotten the horse and the teenage sex, though. It was really quite distressing, and I must have just gone into some sort of twilight sleep.

          The main character was a complete jerk, but owned it, and didn’t expect love for it. All I can say is that it must have been the language. Usually, so many things in that book are deal-breakers for me.

          1+
  34. That big laugh was supposed to be for Google is a Boomer. I guess there’s too much nesting.

    I always watch Avengers to the end whenever I start watching it, even if in the middle. The schwarma scene is a must watch.

    Jayne Ann Krentz’s earlier books had a lot of food. The one where both the hero and heroine were vegetarian was pale imitation a Min and Cal style “THIS ONE” because all the supporting characters put them together all outliers.

    The Gilchrist book with the pesto was something. I wonder if JAK made all those different pestos and ate them while writing. I don’t own any of her books so I can’t​ think of titles off-hand but I re-read them frequently via my library. I won’t navigate away to search (even a new tab) or I’d lose this post!

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  35. A friend characterized one of my WIPs as “romancing the Stouffers,” which I thought was a bit unfair since a lot of the food my characters were eating was either homemade or from interesting take-out places. But it made me realize my stories do revolve a lot around eating…

    I would have added my own favorite food scene to the discussion, but now I have “That’s Amore” from Moonstruck stuck in my head and I’m starving.

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  36. This talk of pancakes reminds me of a recipe, and that of coure brings to mind an excellent situation for someone to use. A friend of mine makes cottage cheese pancakes. They’re cottage cheese, eggs, flour, and that’s about it, and she uses apple sauce instead of syrup on them. She would make them for her diabetic boyfriend, who loved pancakes but couldn’t eat them anymore because of the high amount of carbs and sugar.
    So the scenario is someone who is very much a traditional cook, the kind of person who believes that if her grandmother made it then it was what folks should be eating now too. Then she falls in love with a man who can’t eat her family recipe for pancakes and she breaks out of her programming to find something she can make for him. Because though cooking for someone is an act of love, it goes deeper if the person hast o embrace change to do it.

    1+
    1. I’ve lived this scenario. My mother is Italo-Croatian, so that’s where the heart of my cooking comes from, a place of pasta, wine, onions, and garlic. Four years or so ago, my best friend was diagnosed with a sulphur allergy that was severe enough to cause hormonal disruption and liver dysfunction, so she had to stop eating all alliums, coconut, anything with certain preservatives in it (most wines!), and also gluten. She’s a terrible cook to begin with, and she didn’t know how to make anything that didn’t include those ingredients, so I figured out how to make delicious foods she could eat and taught her how to make some of them too. I also ended up baking her wedding cake.

      2+
    2. I make “school day” pancakes like that: 1 c. Oatmeal, 1 c. Cottage cheese, 6 eggs, and some vanilla, and cinnamon. Maybe a banana or some pumpkin for flavoring. The kids gobble them up and don’t notice that I’m shoving protein down them.

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      1. That sounds interesting and tasty! Do you think I could replace the cottage cheese with Greek/plain yogurt without too much trouble? My parents are trying to go low carb and I think this might be a good recipe for them. 🙂

        0
        1. I don’t know. It’s a very simple recipe, and the cottage cheese provides most of the body of the pancake. But the addition of the eggs, flour, cooking oil, and salt helps to cover the flavor of the cheese. I’ll eat the pancakes, but I won’t touch the cheese by itself.

          1+
        2. I don’t know, honestly, because they’re thin to begin with. forgot to mention that I throw it all in a blender to whip it up. I think the cottage cheese adds some bulk. You can certainly do nonfat cottage cheese though, or swap out some of it.

          1+
  37. Two films/books come instantly to mind:

    The History of Tom Jones, where food substitutes for lust in one hilarious tavern scene.

    My Big Fat Greek Wedding where food is all about celebration of family and the clash of cultures.

    So…food choices of all things. Until now, I hadn’t actually considered how much that could potentially drive a story, even though I love the above examples. Thanks for this Jenny!

    1+
    1. That scene is also great in the book, and yes, MBFGW is great with the food.
      One of the difficult things I face in my writing is to keep things from turning into foodie porn. I like to cook, I like to create my own recipes, and (much to my chagrin) I like to eat. Most of my lover works have substantial food moments in them, and they mean different things because food is a metaphor for different things like redemption, reclaiming, love, communion, or collaboration. (This is especially true in Athena’s Messenger, where food is scarce thanks to societal collapse) So food as metaphor is a powerful thing.

      1+
      1. I think a lot of good fiction pays attention to our needs (Maslow’s Pyramid). Food. Sex. Shelter. Sometimes air, but that really is a specialist sort of story. Once in a great while, an author can make an amazing paragraph or two about a good dump, but that’s not me. It just sounds crass coming from me.

        2+
        1. You know, I hadn’t thought of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but the first level is pretty much a a basis for a fictional character’s world, and help explains why food and houses are such a big deal in my stories.
          1. Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
          And then the second tier is the action/mystery plot:
          2. Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
          And the third tier is the romance/team/community plot:
          3. Love and belongingness needs – friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).
          And the fourth tier is that external personal growth plot:
          4. Esteem needs – achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.
          And the rest is the internal conflict plot:
          5. Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

          Must cogitate. Thank you, Micki.

          5+
          1. Seeing it laid out like that clicked something for me, too. I’m always rooting around in the bottom level, analyzing and appreciating good food, good shelter and not so much good sex, but good touches and feels. That’s what I love writing best.

            The second and fourth levels drive my stories, and the third level is my goal in most of my stories. I tend to completely ignore level five, and in fact, am having some trouble even facing it right now to write about it. Hmmm.

            1+
  38. Food also shows cultural differences–there is a charming children’s book called, I think, how my parents learned to eat, where an American GI in Japan learns to eat with chopsticks and the young woman he is interested in learns to handle silverware…it shows how much they are willing to change for each other.

    4+
  39. Remember when fat was evil? That’s why I’d never eaten a Dove bar until I read Welcome to Temptation. Many many Dove bars have settled around my hips since then.

    4+
  40. I read my first Lisa Kleypas book, Dream Lake. Tons of food! The heroine’s superpower is making food so good, it heals you.

    There’s something very romantic about this book, everything from the heroine’s looks to testimonies on the power of love, and yet Kleypas writes about difficult things like the hero’s alcoholism, the grandmother’s dementia, and (my favourite) the weird cat trying to interfere the first time they have sex. I’m definitely reading more of this series, even though it makes me miss Agnes and her “did you wash your hands first” Mafia food heaven.

    0
  41. Lauren Willig does some very funny things with both ginger biscuits and a Christmas pudding in a couple of her “Pink Carnation” books. Each of those treats becomes an instant reference (with some semi-sexy wink-winks) for the relationships of the couples involved.

    Then there’s S. J. Rozan and her “Lydia Chin” books. It is so much fun–in the midst of some pretty gritty NYC crime investigations–to watch the usually tough-as-nails Lydia dive deep into a bowl of noodles or some other exquisitely comforting Chinese dish. She has some real issues with her immigrant mother and the traditions that she struggles to both live in and come out from, but her love for the culture shows in her relationship with its’ comfort food.

    Laurie R. King’s ‘Mary Russell’ seems to always wind up freezing cold, cranky and muddy (and often injured) in the course of her almost all her books. One of her favorite cures for a rough slog through the soggy English countryside or a night spent shivering in a darkened London alley seems to be endless cups of hot tea and piles of toasted carbohydrates. Mary Russell makes me want to go marching out into howling wind and rain just so I can come back and stuff my face with delicious warm English food, hopefully in front of a fire. Also, in “Locked Rooms”, Russell experiences a unique and wonderful-sounding remedy for a severe shock: sweet cakes & cups of hot tea administered by a knowledgeable and concerned male hero, while the heroine is soaking in a hot bath. If one is conscious enough to enjoy it, well, what could be better?

    2+
  42. Does anyone remember the contrasting scenes in “Annie Hall,” the hilarious lobster preparation with Diane Keaton then the later lobster preparation with another woman?

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  43. I was thinking of two movies, The Waitress, which has all the pies…and I have made one of them after watching and craving it for hundredth time ( Marshmallow Mermaid Pie). And Like Water for Chocolate, that movie opened up my eyes to the larger world of food and storytelling….and it was this that lead me to Eat Drink Man Woman. All so very good for the eyes, mind and the soul.

    And Yes jenny’s books……..The Ksipy Kreme with Cal and Min, and how Cal describes Min what she would look like if she was thin…..she would be the Marsala without the olive oil. Ohhh the Dove Bars with the Dempsey’s and yes the breakfast scene with Garth and everyone doing what Agnes says. Thank you for giving us those moments and characters!!

    1+
  44. Food is comfort, it’s home, it is one of the most basic simple pleasures in life as long as you don’t let it control you. From a simple grilled cheese toastie or a gourmet taster menu. Everyone eats.

    My favourite scene in Angel, is when Angel makes breakfast even though he doesn’t eat. As Cordelia says to Wesley “One of the perks of the job, after an all nighter of fighting lurking evil, we get eggs” Then we get to watch Wesley angling to get invited to breakfast.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the storyline of Eat Drink Man Woman, but the dad did get the best line. When faced with making a special soup for a wedding without the normal ingredients he says “ask me after I’ve done it”

    I love all the food in your books, its the reason I made Italian Cake from Agnes and the Hitman.

    1+
  45. I loved reading this post and all the comments. When I visit France, by the third night, I start dreaming in French beyond my level. I wanted to dream in Italian when I visited Italy but it didn’t happen. Who knows why one language reaches your subconscious and another doesn’t?

    The diner scene in When Harry Met Sally, when Sally loudly gives an example of faking an orgasm to Harry, and then another customer says, I’ll have what she’s having, always makes me smile.

    2+
  46. I was reminded tonight of Babette’s Feast. Food family and community–that’s pretty much the entire movie.

    1+
  47. You know, I never thought about it until today, but the Patricia Wrede “Enchanted Forest” series is all about food. Cimorene shows she is down-to-earth by being willing to cook; she shows she is extraordinary by cooking cherries jubilee.

    That’s not the only example of Wrede juxtaposing the domesticity of cooking with the excitement of a fantasy world (or using cooking imagery to subvert gender stereotypes). She even published a recipe for “After Battle Chocolate Cake” in her short story collection “Book of Enchantments.”

    1+
    1. Patricia Wrede and Carolyn Stevener also made a chocolate pot a central item in Sorcery & Cecelia.

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      1. Oh, that’s right!!! I’m starting to see, not just a food theme, but a distinct dessert/chocolate emphasis. Hmmm….

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