I have a confession to make. I don’t enjoying cooking, and I don’t particularly like eating, either. If my family didn’t need me to play cook for them several times a day, who knows how often or regularly I’d enter the kitchen? You’ll think I’m a little nutty, but as an extension of my weirdness, I forced my house designer (otherwise known as husband) and builder (aka brother-in-law) to add a breakfast nook into the already tight floor plan so I could hide all vestiges of eating and meals in a back corner and not obsess over food thoughts spilling over into the pristine areas of my home.
Knowing this, would you be surprised if, when reading my works of fiction, you found an overabundance of food descriptions? Call it gastric-erotica. Call it food porn. Call it what you will, but you’d have to admit that my fiction is rife with gratuitous scenes of graphic eating. Salty olives burst in mouths, tart-sweet apples crisply expel their juices into gaping maws, roasted meats fall into succulent heaps onto plates. And, oh, does the wine ever flow–the cups run over with flowing sweetness. Take this, for example: The other night, my husband took me for a date, and I ordered a rare prime rib with a side of horseradish and a glass of Chianti, all of which taste better to my memory than they did in actual fact. I don’t need to describe my dinner any further, do I? Doesn’t a rare steak, seared on the outside, running with juices on the insides, dipped in spicy sauce, sound visually appealing? Or maybe you’re vegetarian. Doesn’t the image, then, of an Indian paneer in a creamy tomato sauce by the side of basmati rice seeded with cumin give you tremors of delight? The synesthesia is overwhelming–so encompassing that my mouth is tasting what my mind virtually smells.
I have another confession: If the fiction I read doesn’t provide me with enough gastric-erotica satisfaction, then it isn’t great literature. In my flaming food scale, I need to read books with at least three stars. I long for graphic food descriptions, and a lot of them, at that! I need to mentally taste those kippers or blackberry pies or egg-salad sandwiches made with butter and dill, or creamed spinach by the side of lamb chops laced with mint.
What are your favorite bookish food descriptions? Edmond’s Turkish Delight or tea with Tumnus? Hannah’s savory casseroles in the midst of five-course meals? Redwall’s Skilly n’ Duff?