RHYS BOWEN: In the Huffington Post last year there was an interesting blog on pairing wine and music. So I thought we'd take this one stage further and let's pair books, wine and food. (Or should it be trio not pair three things?) Does it help to have particular food or drink when you read? Does it enhance the reading experience?
There are obvious examples. When I am reading one of Louise Penny's books and it's winter in Quebec, I need a rug over my knees. I need a hot chocolate to sip.
If I'm reading Morse I need Scotch and opera in the background.
If I'm reading Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series, or someone wants to read my Royal Spyness books, may I suggest scones, clotted cream, jam and proper English tea (not made from those awful bags of floor sweepings!)
fellow Jungle Red Deborah Crombie's books need a pint of good ale to go with them. And a pasty,scotch egg, bangers and mash? Now I'm getting hungry.
I love reading about food. I love good descriptions of meals. I love books with recipes in the back. In my upcoming Royal Spyness book, called The Twelve Clues of Christmas, we linger over several Christmas feasts and I even provide some recipes.
So do you love to read about food? Do you like recipes in books? What would some of your food/wine/books pairings be?
ROSEMARY HARRIS: I may be in the minority but I don't like to eat or drink when I'm reading. Maybe a glass of lemonade if I'm outside in the hammock, but even then I usually get so absorbed in the book that flies and no-see-ums drown in the glass before I have a chance to take a second sip.
LUCY BURDETTE: Don't hold back on the clotted cream Ro--especially if it's served with scones! Tastes like whipped cream, only better.
The only true pairing I can think of is must read the New York Times while I'm eating breakfast cereal.
HALLIE EPHRON: Mmm, clotted cream. Tastes like really sweet butter to me. Or creme fraiche. Sublime with a mound of fresh raspberry jam on a hot flaky scone.
I do like food with my fiction. I like food any time. You can tell which books on my shelf I've read by the grease and coffee spots on the pages.
I'll read Lucy's "An Appetite for Murder" with a big wedge of Key lime pie and a grouper sandwich.
A hot dog with "Shoeless Joe."
Honey on toast with "The Secret Life of Bees."
A dry martini with "The Group."
A nice dark glass of red wine with "Dracula."
Pomegranate and walnuts with "Like Water for Chocolate."
Barbecued spare ribs with "Fried Green Tomatoes in the Whistle Stop Cafe."
RHYS: Hallie, I'd love to see the state of your book if you're reading it with barbecued spare ribs. I always end up so messy if I've tackled them. I wouldn't have a clean hand to hold the book!
JAN BROGAN _ I'm with Ro on not liking to eat or drink much when I'm reading - but I do have to have one of my husband's Latte's when I'm reading the Sunday Boston Globe.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Okay, I have to confess--I went out and bought a bottle of sherry during the last season of Downton Abbey. It wasn't very good sherry, unfortunately, and it's just not quite right if you're not dressing for dinner.
Ro, if you're going to try clotted cream, you must find somewhere that has really good clotted cream. (I'd suggest going to Devon but that might be a bit far...) And the scones should be warm, and the strawberry jam should be homemade...
I love books with food, books about food, books with recipes, and although I'm not really big on eating while reading, I do like to try things I read about in books. Or things I write about--I learned to like really good Scotch when I wrote Now May You Weep, although I don't drink it often. It makes me want to be curled up in front of the fire in a B&B in the Scottish Highlands, with a tartan rug over my knees.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I remember reading A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES and constantly wanting to take part in the character's food and drink. I understand Deborah Harkness is a wine blogger as well as a fiction author, and you can really tell in that book. There's a description of the meal (and wine pairings) that the heroine first makes for the vampire hero, who can't eat anything that's been cooked or, if I recall correctly, heated. First time I ever considered the "raw foods" movement might have something going on.
And I totally agree with Jan and Deb - a nice glass of sherry for Downton Abbey! You could do a drinking game - Mary and Matthew look longing at each other: one sip. Thomas and O'Brien light one up while plotting outside the kitchen: two sips. Lady Edith gets inadvertently cut down by a family member: chug!