Friday, March 19, 2010

A Ride with "Johnny Cash" Leads to Food in Fiction

The weather here has been amazingly good and many more people than usual are out and about. I wonder what some of them do in the winter time and whether their foibles cause problems in close quarters. For example, there was a man on the bus with me today who loves Johnny Cash. I'm rather partial to Cash too. I think his music is three-hundred percent more real than almost any 'country' singer I can think of. Although I must admit, I don't think of country singers very often.

In any event, this Johnny Cash fan had a fixation for Ring of Fire. At first, I thought he was listening to it on an ipod or CD player and didn't realize he was singing along but that wasn't the case . His brain was stuck on four lines of the song and he sang them over and over and over. He wasn't loud and he was almost in tune, but now the song is in my brain. It's a good thing the bus rider wasn't singing "We got married in a fever hotter than a pepper pot." I don't think I could have tolerated many repetitions of that line. It makes me think about food

I started contemplating the sensual value of food in fiction again this week. Why? Because my daughter raved about a book so I found it at the library and have read it. The Food of Love, by A. Capella (Isn't that a lovely name for a writer?) has so many sensual descriptions of Italian food that it's overwhelming in places. It's a comedy of errors novel and while I may not remember it forever, I did enjoy it. Also it made me consider how often I use food as a descriptive vehicle in my work. In one of my stories chocolate played a key role but generally, I don't refer to food that often. Maybe I'll use it more often in the future, or maybe I'm revved up after reading about all the fine food, which often led to other delightfully sensual things.

So, here is this week's question. Does the description of meals, or the preparation of them appear in your fiction with any frequency?


Danielle La Paglia said...

I don't typically include detailed descriptions of food in my writing. I try to remember to most of the senses, especially smell, because it adds so much to the reader's experience. I do however, have one scene in my current ms where a guy is describing why he loves Italian food so much. It's only a paragraph, but it was enough to make me hungry when I wrote it. Or maybe I was already hungry and that's why I wrote it. Hmmmm...the chicken or the egg?

Lori Hahnel said...

I would have to also say I generally don't talk about food too much. I think because it makes me too hungry. But it's interesting to think about this.

Angela Addams said...

I usually don't have a need to describe food...mainly because I've been writing about vampires I guess I describe their kind of food...but I don't think it would be very appealing to humans! LOL

I should do that more often though...I do love to eat and I, myself, am tempted to indulge when I read someone's elses description of food.

Falcata Times said...

To be honest food is generally kept to something simple. I have read titles that tend to go into massive detail on it but thats usually for the really fancy places that charge about £800 for a couple of pea's with a slice of meat on a plate.

Food is always best to be kept simple in my opinion. I hate it when they talk about things I don't have a clue what it is. Whereas when you're writing, if you say stuff like "X was making Y a Bacon, Egg and Mushroom sandwich" your mouth automatically waters as you know what it is. Calling stuff by fancy names really just confuses you and loses the reader in what can be a key moment of character bonding.

Selestial said...

In my current piece, I have a scene where my lead couple is out at a restaurant, and it goes into food ... sort of.

"Pretty Souls" was narrated by a teen werewolf, so she was all about food LOL.

I think it really needs to fit the story to work, otherwise (like too much description of anything) it becomes irritating to me.

Susan said...

I DO include a fair bit of food in my fiction. Do I enjoy eating? You bet! Am I orally fixated? You tell me! :)

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. The most common food in my current fiction is ... blood, so probably not something to sing along with!

I do have fond memories of wonderful food descriptions in several books, though. Steven Brust (Vlad Taltos books) has some of the most enticing food descriptions I've ever come across.


mcinnesp said...

Wow! Great question, Diane. One that I've not given much thought to, until now.

I guess I do use food a lot to highten certain experiences in my writing.

In "Enemy of All" I focussed on a little girl's birthday cake to provoke the feelings for her mother's nostalgia about her little girl growing up so fast and the little girl's excitement for the cake, so I could stomp all over the party effectively later.

In the novel I'm working on now, the little girl gets into a heap of trouble trying to prepare cereal for her breakfast; she gets a reprieve from her troubles by enjoying some pancakes, sharing her teacher's lunch, and splitting a sandwich with a friend. The food either broke relationships or helped solidify them.

Never really realized how much I put food into my writing before...interesting....