Food in Fiction

Squab) with foie gras and cepes
Squab) with foie gras and cepes

I read about food a good deal and love the books of people like Elizabeth David and Anthony Bourdain. Those writers talk food with passion and inspiration. I’ve been thinking about food in fiction and realized that I can think of few novels I’ve read that feature food in any significant way.

There was Portnoy’s Complaint, in which the horny protagonist used raw liver in a wholly new way to me!

Ian Fleming used it in the Bond novels as a crude way to display Bonds supposed good taste. However it tended to major on obviously excessive and expensive consumption. Expense taking precedence over any real worth. Caviar and Bollinger feature a good deal. Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer displayed a certain usefulness with the pans and could do a good omelette. Deighten choose to make him a kind of educated working class hero to Bonds upper class officer type and the choice of food was a great tool in showing that contrast.

I use food in my novels too, all of them feature it. It’s used to give characters depth and in particular it’s used to give men credentials beyond their fists and fighting skills.  Food can be a great tool as a wooing aid. Seduction can start with a good meal and if that meal is prepared with care and love by the man and precedes a bout of heterosexual excess in bed or on rug before a fire, that leaves the heroine panting for more, more food and loving – then we have a hero that’s got dimension and depth. Sensuality extends to appreciation of more than one kind of skin. I like a hero that knows his way round a woman’s curves as well as he knows his wines and cheeses. He can wield a knife to fillet a salmon, joint a chicken or the baddy with equal dexterity.

Somehow, good food self prepared rather, than simply bought is more meaningful. My Daniel cooking up a Provencal rabbit and truffle stew before a night of excess with Bonny, is sexier than Bond buying Beluga.

(The image: Hostellerie Jérôme at La Turbie on the Cote-D-Azure serve this: Pigeon(Squab) with foie gras and cepes. I’ve tried to reproduce dish’s like this often.)  Continue reading

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