Posted by: Diane Curran | April 26, 2009

The Ritual of Food

I post the following picture with apologies to Laura Weiss.

I’m reading the book Leftovers, and it was on the floor next to my bed. Seems my cat Dorkus took the title too literally.  And here is the result:

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This is the culprit. See how innocent he looks. I guess I didn’t get up early enough that day to feed him.

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We usually don’t end up with any leftovers in my house. And if I’m purposely trying to have leftovers for lunch the next day, I have to make it clear that this is my lunch and not there for seconds or thirds. Actually, it’s easier to make up something new the next day. I’m not really into reheated food.

Food plays a huge part in our lives and it plays a very large part in my stories.  So many of our rituals are based around food and it brings family, friends, lovers and community together.

In my current work in progress Making the Cut, the hero Luke teaches the heroine Chloe to cook. The story includes baking competitions at the local show day, and produce-growing competitions (as in who can grow the biggest zucchini – wink), dinners out at the pub, dinners in at home. As I’m editing now, I realise how many food scenes there are but that’s okay. Because food is common between everybody. Whether it’s the teenager avoiding eating so she can be super thin, the gathering of the tribe at a community barbecue, the first home-cooked meal for your new boyfriend/girlfriend, it’s a major part of our lives, and therefore can be a major part of my stories.

Besides that, food defines our characters.  Do they insist on paying for the meal? What do they choose to eat? Do they have hard time deciding? Are they vegan or carnivore? Are they health-conscious or do they live on takeaway?  Do they eat one thing in public and another in private?  Do they cook from scratch or buy the prepared food?  Do they have a hatred of certain foods – even a phobia?  How about food allergies?

We can learn a lot about a character from their relationship with food.

I attended my writers group meeting yesterday and wrote the following Ode to Chocolate quickly as my homework exercise.  See if you can guess what the assignment was.

I have been having a love affair with chocolate for many years. Years of longing and desire for that melted brown substance. Substance of delight. Delight in the taste of it melting in my mouth. Mouth-watering – the only thing that can satisfy my cravings.

Cravings for chocolate are supposed to indicate a deeper psychological need. Need for serotonin, need for comfort, a need for love. Love came and went and broke my heart, but chocolate was a constant. Constant, loyal, unwavering, and it would never reject me.

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Responses

  1. David Eddings started the Belgariad series in a kitchen and proceeded to describe sumptuous meals. I was a teen, and very eager to find food, but wished for my own personal Polgara to make such delicious fare.

  2. What a naughty kitty!

    Great post, Diane. Chocolate is a wonderful constant in my life too – always around in times of celebration *and* stress.

  3. What a naughty kitty!

    Great post, Diane. Chocolate is a wonderful constant in my life too – always around in times of celebration *and* stress.
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  4. Assignment: start each sentence with the last word of the previous.

    My So-Called Life was great for food metaphors. Especially food = sex metaphors.

  5. Leftovers are one of my great joys in cooking. I get to work once for two meals, what a bargain!

    Food is such a defining feature in people. What they do and don’t eat says so much about them.
    I have a hard time being friends with people IRL that I’m not food-compatible with.


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