Today, I’m thinking about food. Well, I’m pretty much always thinking about food (especially cheese). But, in particular, I’m wondering about using food in my stories.
Do your characters eat? If so, do you tell the reader what they ate, even if it’s not integral to the story line? For some reason my folks always end up making spaghetti with zucchini. Or fajitas.
Sometimes, the fact that a character ate a frozen TV dinner or take out pizza every night, says something about the person. Can’t cook, lazy, busy, lives alone, or whatever. If the hero and heroine are feeding each other strawberries, it matters.
If it doesn’t matter, should I mention it at all? Does it count as scenery? As some small insight into the character?
There are whole mystery series that revolve around food, or in my friend Christine’s case, a whole manuscript. But those situations aside, how do you use food in your writing?
The Daily Squirrel: Steve cooks dinner (a rough draft excerpt from “Floater”)
He steered her around the counter. “Sit at the bar and you can tell me where everything is.” He’d order takeout before he’d let her stand on injured feet to make dinner.
She perched on a stool and told him where to find everything while he boiled the pasta water, heated up a jar of sauce, and sauteed some zucchini and garlic. He rarely made real meals just for himself, but he didn’t mind working in the kitchen.
“Where’d you learn to cook?” she asked, one eyebrow raised.
He chuckled. “I don’t know if I’d call this cooking. More like heating things up without a microwave.” Why are women so easily impressed by a man in the kitchen?
She smiled. “You’d be surprised at how many people don’t know how to boil water or chop a vegetable. You may not be the Iron Chef, but you’re light years ahead of a lot of guys I know.”
Clearly, she dated the wrong men. “When I was a kid, if we wanted to eat we had to make it.”
Both of her neatly arched eyebrows shot up. “Neither of your parents cooked?” she asked. “I mean, we had a housekeeper who usually made the meals, but my mom knew her way around a kitchen.”
“My mom didn’t do much of anything,” he said turning away to stir the sauce. And hide his face.