By Patricia W. Fischer
Touch. Taste. Smell. Sound. Sight.
As a writer, I do my best to figure out the best way to pull a reader into my work by using the five senses and it’s not always easy.
One of the best ways I’ve figured out how to do this is through food.
I mean, who doesn’t like a nice discussion about chocolate cake? Or talking to Grandma while she makes Chicken Piccata? Or discussing your relationships with your wild aunt while she mixes up a batch of perfect mojitos?
The memories they can stir. The readers we can win over. The craving for our words.
The emotions a passage about peach pie can bring up are all part of not only an amazing experience to the reader, but we as writers.
What are we thinking when we create a cleverly scripted passage about how the hero tries the heroine’s Chicken Enchilada soup and immediately falls in love with her? It’s a journey that helps both sides to understand the story and the characters better.
To celebrate food and fiction, I’m listing some of my favorite books that so eloquently combined both of my passions. I hope you’ll also chime in and let me know which stories spoke to both your heart and stomach.
The Mulberry Tree by Jude Devereux
For twenty years, devoted wife (doormat), Lillian Manville, stood at her self-made billionaire husband, James’, side because she knew he needed her. But when he’s killed in a plane crash, Lillian discovers James left his fortune to his money-hungry siblings. Everything she’s known is gone and she’s left only with a farmhouse in Virginia and a cryptic message from her now dead husband to solve a mystery from his childhood.
Yes, I swear this book is about food, because to rebuild her life, Lillian begins to make preserves and damn good ones. As the author tells us of Lillian’s journey, she’s so gracious to include recipes and taste testing. After reading this book, all I wanted to do was sit around and eat toast and jam.
Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel
If you’ve never read the English translation (or whatever language you speak) of this book, you should. Divided into twelve months segments, the story follows a young woman, Tita, and her longing to marry, Pedro. Because Tita is the younger of two daughters, her mother Elena forbids Tita to marry first and plans to keep Tita unwed so she can care for her as she ages. (Thanks mom.)
Their forbidden love almost leaps off the pages as do the smells and tastes of the recipes Esquivel presents. A sensory feast for sure.
There’s also an incredibly sexy movie as well. Here’s the trailer:
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
One of the most fun books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Not only does Flagg capture the Southern charm (and the negatives as well) of Whistle Stop, Alabama but also present day Alabama. She flashes back and forth in time, telling us of two sets of women, Ruth and Idgie, and Evelyn Couch and Ninny Threadgood. Each set of women navigate their own trials and troubles only to realize they make each other stronger when they work together.
Throughout the book, food is always on the table and recipes are listed in the back.
Warning, as soon as you read this, you’re gonna want to find the closest restaurant that serves these amazing treats and try it, that is if you don’t already make them yourself.
If you haven’t seen the movie staring Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, you can check out the trailer here:
Unmasking Juliette by Teri Wilson
For those of you who’ve seen Unleashing Mr. Darcy on the Hallmark Channel, know that author Teri Wilson has another book that’s well, deliciously decadent.
Taking the venue of Romeo and Juliette, setting it in Sonoma and Italy, and making the family rival chocolatiers, makes for mouth-watering recipes and romance.
In one particular scene, she describes how Leo Mezzanotte seduces Juliette Arabella while stirring up a pan of chocolate chaud, that is before Juliette’s dog gets hold of it and let’s say, Leo’s chivalry shines through.
There are too many more books to mention by amazing authors including Susan Mallory, Louisa Edwards, Meg Benjamin, Rachel Gibson and the list goes on and on.
I can’t imagine a better pairing: romance and recipes.
What are some of your favorite food and fiction books?