This past weekend I went on strike. I woke up on Saturday feeling a little out of sorts and decided no household chores for me; no ‘catching up’ with family or friends ; no shopping and definitely no web surfing. I was going to read. Outside. On a deckchair. In the sun. With my big floppy hat on my head.
What did you do?
I started out by reading (and finishing) Mary Stewart’s The Stormy Petrel, one of those books that I had been meaning to get to for over a decade. I was thoroughly enjoying the read when Rose (the main character) interrupted her writing (she writes Sci-Fi) to make herself scrambled eggs at about the same time my stomach started grumbling. Loudly.
So I went indoors to make a pot of tea (Yorkshire Tea – strong) and a plate of scrambled eggs of course, with ketchup. And this got me thinking about stories and food.
The air smelt of nightfall, bitter-smoky, like Lapsang Tea – pg 94, Blackberry wine by Joanne Harris
I have always been able to do this: immerse myself so completely in a story that I even develop the character’s taste for certain foods. Case in point:
When I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed last summer I stuffed myself with hamburgers and doughnuts, and I am not a doughnut- eater. This book is so raw, so unflinching in its account of loss and bravery that eating the foods the author expressly craved on her solo journey along the Pacific Crest Trail was comfort for my soul.
...I made my way to the counter, stacks of pancakes skirted by bacon, eggs in exquisitely scrambled heaps, or – more painful of all – cheeseburgers buried by jagged mounds of French fries. – pg 146, Wild by Cheryl Strayed
One of my all-time favourite authors Joanne Harris, wrote wonderful books where food provides continuity and is often central to the plot. Reading her Chocolat and Blackberry Wine is, as you can imagine a sweet and fruity pleasure.
Blackberry 1976. A good summer for blackberries, ripe and purple and swimming in crimson juice. The scent was penetrating. – pg 255, Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harries
Luckily for me, not every writer decides to sit his or her characters down for a meal or write so eloquently and passionately about flavours and scents. If they did, I would be much heavier.
We ate cheeseburgers and fries, then afterwards walked through the convenience store in postprandial ecstasy, loading our arms with full of chips and cookies and beer…pg 218, Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Do you find yourself writing about meals/food and flavours? And are you tempted to try out recipes or hunt down foods you read about in works of fiction or memoirs?