The Romance of Food
Is it just me or do so many of the great moments of life take place over a meal? Food weaves it’s way in and out of so many of our memories. The special birthday cake, the traditional holiday foods or even that catastrophic meal you made for a date are all part of our memories.
I think it is the same for fictional characters, just as food brings us together in real life I think the same is true in books.
I’ve noticed my fictional characters like to drink a lot of wine, meet a friend and download over a coffee or plan the perfect date or treat for someone they have their eye on. That’s pretty much how my friends in real life are too. I think it is realistic. Let’s face it food is a big part of our day and who we share it with defines us.
Who we eat with and what we eat also tells us a lot about a character eating Chinese food alone is very different for one going for dim sum with a new boyfriend, fried chicken at a picnic is different to eating a two-piece feed of KFC on your way between jobs.
I love books where food is almost a character in the story. I still remember reading Like Water for Chocolate when it was released and how the mood of the characters cooking the food affected the taste. It was so beautiful and so moving.
I’m a keen cook in real life and I can always taste in the meal the amount of love and care I’ve put into it. You can taste the love in cooking, it’s a fact.
In my latest series – The Upper Crust Series- the focus is on three friends all have some involvement in a chain of food trucks that make Australian style pies. (I as inspired by the Pie Face franchise, you may have seen in the US which began in Australia.) Day in day out they’re involved in the making and selling of the pies. Obviously food is what brings these girls together and it also makes them hyper-aware of the food they eat on dates and at parties. They’re all about the food and it certainly helps them to find love surrounded by the scents of warm fruit and pastry.
1. Tell us about a magical moment you remember that had a food element to it.
The year my husband and I got married we went to Europe. It was a shoe-string budget trip and so we at a lot of pasta, pizza and croissants. One night we were in Assisi and we went in to a tiny hole in the wall restaurant not expecting much. In one half of the restaurant the family sat watching I Dream of Genie on the television with Italian subtitles.
There was no menu and there were no prices. A woman came and told us our choices and I chose fettucinni with a truffle sauce. At the next table were an older American couple and they were finishing up but they had half a plate green beans left and they insisted we take them “These are the best beans we’ve ever eaten. This is the best meal we’ve ever had. Please take them. We’re so full but we can’t throw them out.”
We took the beans and ate them. They were amazing. My pasta was the best I’ve ever eaten. It was a strange and wonderful evening. And 20 years later we talk still remember it.
2. You are stranded on a magical desert island for a year. You can only eat one meal every day for that year. You can have as much as you want of that meal, but that’s the only thing you get to eat. What do you choose?
That is a hard question. I strongly suspect if left to my own devices I would probably live on homemade popcorn and red wine. (Best I don’t live alone for a while). It’s hot on the island I guess so I’m going to start with coconut shrimp, I’ll have butter chicken and rice for my main and a cheese plate for dessert. And the red wine. If I get a snack I’ll have Smiths Salt and Vinegar Chips…they’re my crack!
3. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? Why?
In the world? That’s a big question. I live in Sydney, Australia and there are a lot of fine restaurants here. I’m going to have to choose one by the water and it will have to serve seafood I think.
I’m a firm believer that best restaurant in the world won’t be amazing if the company is bad. I’m going to choose the Manly Wharf Hotel (and do my bit for Sydney tourism). This hotel/bar/restaurant features in my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels. It is right where you step off the Manly Ferry from Sydney. It’s a popular place to meet friends for a drink, to take a seat if you are a tourist or to enjoy a quiet ale. On weekend nights it’s a place to hand out and maybe meet someone new.
It brings together lots of elements I love in a restaurant. The food is okay but if you want have a long lunch with friends or get to know someone while the water laps the pier and people kayak of paddle-board past then you couldn’t pick a better place.
Outdoor dining at The Manly Wharf Hotel