Wednesday, June 25, 2014
***Breaking news: Pat D is the winner of Edith Maxwell's book. Please contact her at Edithmax at gmail dot com to claim your prize!***
LUCY BURDETTE: I've got food on the brain lately, but what else is new? Especially after Rhys had us describing our favorite meals last week. Besides that, it's an occupational hazard of writing foodie mysteries, as you saw yesterday from Edith's post. And you'll see again on Sunday, when Leslie Budewitz visits to talk about her recent obsession with food-related memoirs.
But I realized as I cracked open Ruth Reichl's first novel, Delicious!, that I've always loved reading about food in fiction. Maybe it started consciously with Diane Mott Davidson's series about a Boulder caterer who can't help solving mysteries as she cooks. Davidson didn't just dump descriptions onto the pages, food works hard as part of her story. Here she is at the beginning of Catering to Nobody:
"For the dessert shortcakes, I used an old trick: make giant scones. Another thing I'd learned in this business: involve the clients with the food. Make the spread good to look at, smell, touch, taste. Gauge action by needs. At a bridal shower, don't give the guests much to do with the food since they're already involved with the presents. But keeping people active at a wake was essential. Being busy, like working, allayed grief. By splitting cakes and heaping on berries and cream, the mourners could start to get their minds off death."
Barbara O'Neal is another novelist who shows genius about writing food. Near the beginning of The Lost Recipe for Happiness, her chef character has just been fired by her lover/boss. She's been invited to breakfast by a handsome restaurant owner who's offered her a job. Where do you suppose this is heading:
"Elena speared a vivid red strawberry, a fruit at its prime, and fell into admiring it. The smooth red flesh, quilted with the tiniest seeds. It tasted slightly grainy, imbued with the sunlight of a summer morning. "Mmmm." She stabbed another and held it out to Julian. "Have a taste."
Oh, there are so many other meals I've enjoyed on the page--have you read Jessica Sofer's Tomorrow There Will be Apricots? Or Diana Abu-Jaber's Crescent? Or Jenny Shortridge's Eating Heaven? Or Erica Baumeister's The School of Essential Ingredients? Or Meredith Mileti's Aftertaste? Or Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of the Lemon Cake? I can't even begin to list all the fun culinary mysteries being written right now, but you'll find some wonderful choices at MysteryLoversKitchen.com.
Reds, is there a special fictional meal that lingers on your palate? Or a foodie novel we must add to our pile? Or do all these calories on the page leave you cold?
(And by way, here's my favorite recipe for strawberry shortcake--obviously I've got that dish on the brain!)