A few weeks ago, Michelle wrote about giving actual street names to give a sense of place. As I was thinking of that, a conversation I had with a friend reminded me that there are many ways to do that. Another way to evoke place is with food.
You see, the friend had recently visited the East coast and commented on how wonderful the seafood is. Yes, here in the Rockies, we get seafood, even fresh lobsters flown in, but when you live on the coast, it’s something you take for granted. Food is still very much a regional experience.
Bagels taste different back East. Grits and hush puppies evoke the South. I never had hash browns with breakfast until I moved West. Different kinds of pizza crust can be the subject of debate across the country.
And on a recent trip to Michigan, I realized that there is a reason there aren’t as many Mexican restaurants there as we have in the West. I swear my cheese enchilada was topped with ketchup.
So one really good way to set the scene solidly for your characters is just to sit them down to a meal. The smells of the food, the tastes, are another sensual way to make the scene come alive for your reader.