I’m trying to think of a topic but all I can think about right now is how hungry I am…
Food, I find, is important. Not just to stop me being hungry (so hungry…) but in books. My lead character is an excellent cook. I’m not. I’ve had to take inspiration from Victorian cookery books and my best friend, who is an excellent cook. But the food Mrs Hudson makes is important. How many sugars Mr Holmes has in his tea is significant (three. Only a splash of milk). She bakes when she has to think.
And food, in books, can evoke so much. Think of the March sisters, taking their carefully cooked Christmas dinner to the poor. Think of Mr Woodhouse, insisting that everyone eat the thin gruel that will disturb no-one as opposed to the rich meals prepared for them – reflecting his own joyless, cautionary approach to life rather than fully experiencing it, and wanting to stop others experiencing it. Think of the poisoned marmalade in Pocketful of Rye – too bitter for the rest of the family, perfect for the sharp, nasty head of it.
Food can reflect social standing, and feeling and character in a very subtle way that we don’t recognise is actually happening, and it is incredibly evocative. I always feel more kindly to a character who scoffs a whole box of chocolates in one go, just like I do, rather than a character who parcels them out, one by one, day after day.
I’m going to eat now. (Chicken sandwich). But when you write a meal, don’t just write ‘they ate.’ Describe it. It’s such a wonderful key to your characters.
Sent from my iPad