Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thinking about Food

Food!

We need it, we eat it, we cook it. Well, I think most of us do anyway :)

So, do your characters cook?

My male MC is not a good cook, but he likes inventing - and eating - enough to give it a shot. My female MC isn't any better. They live in Steampunk England and mostly live off what they buy at the markets. They do take turns cooking the basics and doing the clean up, but they never graduate to anything fancy.

This happens for a few reasons. They're busy investigating murders, they're teens on their own, they don't have a lot of money, they don't have a kitchen -- just a few "appliances" they've created to cook. And ... they don't really like cooking.

Which is odd because I do like to cook. I enjoy trying something new, testing out new recipes in both cooking and baking. Nothing fancy, but I like the entire experience.

But these 2 characters don't share my interest. Hmmm.

So, do you and your characters share the same attitudes towards cooking? Towards food in general? Or do they even get to the kitchen at all?

On a related note, Calista Taylor - known to most of us from her blog A Steampunk Reverie - has started a new blog. It's all about food!! Calista's a great cook and her recipes are delicious. She cooks with food I have on hand and her directions are great - she is a writer after all! If you're looking for some great recipes - or just want to drool a little - check out A Writer Cooks!

86 comments:

  1. Yes, the MC in my first novel cooks, and his daughter reflected on a memory of her dad teaching her how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when she was little. In my current WIP, I've had fewer food scenes, but it's a good idea to make sure these people eat once in a while.

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  2. Matt - eating is good! My characters tend to whine a little when it's their turn to cook - although it's better than clean up duty :)

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  3. My MC cooks fajitas once during the story. Not so much like me since I stopped eating meat last year. But I can still whip up fajitas for company. ;)

    I love to try out new recipes too. Have you been to smittenkitchen.com? Love.

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  4. The food in ancient Egypt was nothing glamorous- lots of veggies and wine. Meat too, but not for the poor.

    I love to cook- I actually got distracted by your blog while looking for a zucchini bread recipe online!

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  5. Anissa - yum, fajitas!!

    No I haven't checked that site out - I'll give it a look later on :)

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  6. Stephanie - Veggies & wine - not a bad way to go :)

    I used to have a great recipe for zucchini bread, but it got lost in the shuffle one time & I've never found one quite as good!

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  7. Thanks for another great site to check out. I enjoy reading mysteries that involve cooking. It adds a little something to the mix. But then, I enjoy all mysteries pretty much. :)

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  8. No my MC doesn't cook, but his Memere does. I tried to incorporate the senses (esp. smell) when she's in the kitchen.

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  9. Mason - you're welcome - I know you'll enjoy it :)

    I completely agree - mysteries of any kind are awesome - and new recipes from anywhere are welcome!

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  10. Carolyn - is your MC French? I hear Mamere or Memere up here a lot.

    Nothing better than smelling something cooking in the kitchen. Just reading about it can make me want to cook!

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  11. My characters work in a cupcake shop. I've had to do extensive research, to make sure it's all authentic ;)

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  12. Alexa - it's a tough job...

    What a great setting. I might just have to do some research on a setting like that myself :)

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  13. Thanks for getting me thinking about this, Jemi. My MCs are generally children and often seem to be late for meals but no I've never had them cooking. They're always pinching biscuits but then as a kid I often pinched biscuits and I never, ever cooked - much to the disappointment of my first husband. I've learnt the skill now. I must say, Alexa, having a character working in a cupcake shop sounds fascinating.

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  14. I LOVE cooking. I wish I had more time to do so. My MC actually works in a bakery owned by her mother but she doesn't really share the baking gene. I do however love describing the cakes and pastries so far in the novel.

    Thanks for heads up on the blog. I'll have to go check it out.

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  15. Rosalind - absolutely nothing wrong with pinching a biscuit or two!! :)

    My mom was great when I was younger - we cooked & baked a lot with her!

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  16. Karen - I'm with you - I need more time for cooking and baking - and writing of course!!

    Okay - now you have to hurry up and get that published - I can't wait to read it!

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  17. None of my main characters cook. In fact I don't even think they know where the kitchen is! Thanks for the link :)

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  18. I'm better at not eating the mixture before I bake - now that I have children watching LOL

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  19. Wendy - lol :) It's interesting how some characters are totally lacking in this department!

    You're welcome - enjoy the site!

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  20. Michelle - lol!! Yes, the kids sure cut into the prebaked goodness don't they? Have to set that good example. Unfortunately :)

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  21. I get myself confused because one protagonist (Myrtle Clover) is the world's worst cook, and the other protagonist (Lulu Taylor for the Memphis BBQ series) owns a restaurant and is a great cook!

    I'm somewhere in the middle. :)

    Elizabeth

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  22. I'm a strict vegan, but none of my characters are vegetarian. My Olympic swimmer watched her foods, but that was about it. One was good at decorating cakes, and I really suck in that department!

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  23. Elizabeth - lol :) I haven't read the BBQ series, but I loved Myrtle - even if she is a rotten cook. Loved her son's reactions to her cooking!

    I'm in the middle ground as well!

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  24. Diane - it's fun to have characters who aren't clones or copies of us. The cake decorator sure sounds fun!

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  25. My characters take after my own heart ... no cooking! Food? Yes! But no food preps from this semi-good cook :/

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  26. Joanne - you crack me up! Food is always good - but the prep can be a pain :)

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  27. My male MC likes to cook. He likes the balance of creativity and control and the fact that no matter how sublime the resulting dish, it can always be made better. He appreciates the infinite possibilities - as do I. :)

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  28. VR - sounds awesome!! I wish he lived here :) My MC likes to "tinker", but it doesn't always work out!

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  29. Ok,it's just wrong to tease me with that picture of that scrumptious cupcake at the top. I love food. I love creating things and good food is one of them. My first novels (romances) had a great deal of food in them. The 2nd (I stopped 1/2 way thru it) the MC is a successful female chef. Her love interest (character from 1st book) is a baker. So in those instances food plays a big role. In my subsequent books, no. Food plays not much of a role at all in them. Interesting post.

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  30. Lisa - sorry! :)

    Your book sounds so interesting! Can't wait to read it one day! It would be fun to see the chef and the baker in action.

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  31. I am not writing a novel, so I don't have an MC...but I do have the boyfriend and he cooks 4-5 nights a week normally. I also blog about cooks so I bake.

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  32. Thanks for the link.

    I love to cook, and especially bake. My current MC is Polish/Russian and happens to be making her favorite--pierogi--when male MC shows up for tutoring. He's hooked and asks her to make something Polish for next time. She makes golobki (stuffed cabbage) and faworki (kinda-sorta like funnel cake).

    Mmmmm. I dug out my grandmother's recipe and made pierog with my kids two weeks ago. Such a tedious process, but SO worth it!

    Male MC doesn't cook, but he sure makes a lot of messes in the kitchen--it's one of their running jokes ;)

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  33. Ruthann - sounds like a very good plan! My hubby will do a few basics - and he does bbq well :)

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  34. Tara - perogies!! Yummy :) They are sooooo time consuming to cook. I'm glad we know someone who makes them for me!

    Sounds like you've got lots of action going on in the kitchen in your ms! Lots of fun :)

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  35. Thanks for finding your award on my site on your own -- you deserved it.

    In my WIP my characters don't cook, except my MC's mother. They are either mostly drug dealers or on the road so they eat in a lot of restaurants-- in fact a lot of scenes take place in restaurants.
    Lee

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  36. My MC is a teenager and she lives on a farm, so she definitely has to help with food things, whether or not she's actually cooking. I am not at all a cook. I can make coconut chicken and a few other yummy things, but overall.... no. My Handsome Hubby is 100% Italian, though - his mom is an AMAZING cook and so is he! :D I am a lucky gal, I tell ya...

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  37. Thanks again Lee - it was nice to open your your blog post and find it there :)

    I'm not sure I'd want to eat anything drug dealers cooked up anyway! Restaurants would make good scenes for your wip.

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  38. Lindsey - sounds like a great setting for your book!

    We have a large Italian community in our city & I think we have the best restaurants in the world!! Chain restaurants never last because they can't compete with the locally owned ones :)

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  39. My characters don't cook, but they excel in eating. So they're like me.

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  40. Medeia - LOL :)

    It's good to excel at something you enjoy! Good work :)

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  41. I'm trying to think if I even have cooking scenes in my manuscripts. When I do, it's simple things or even in restaurants or talk over coffee. Perhaps I should feed my characters better!

    On another note, I gave you the Circle of Friends award today.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  42. My character doesn't cook, but she does read like a fiend! I don't ever really think about food much when I'm writing. Somehow it doesn't seem important, but I bet it would add a little flavor to the writing. (Shameless pun.)

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  43. Now I really want a cupcake. I'm sure my 1st grade MC would love one, too. :-)

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  44. Interesting post!

    I am beginning to believe that my characters must not eat. At least not much. While there are a few references to food in all my books, they are virtually non existent and essentially not important beyond setting or showing an emotion.

    I might have to consider that in the future.

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  45. Sweet a new place for recipes!

    I try not to dwell on food in my books because it usually messes up the pacing. Hopefully someday I learn the art to adding that necessity and my characters will quit being starved!

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  46. Thanks Helen - that's so nice of you!!

    I don't imagine your characters are too badly off! It's interesting how we either do have food scenes or don't have any at all :)

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  47. Anne - love shameless puns :)

    In my last ms, the main character rarely ate or talked about food - different story in this one!

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  48. Well, the first meal my MC made was boiled hot dogs. :) haha! So fun to delve into all the different aspects of our characters.

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  49. Shannon - cupcakes are good for all ages :) I'll take one too!

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  50. Cat - it's odd how some characters like food so much, but others have different priorities. Mine don't have much money and being back in Victorian times have to shop almost every day - so food comes up a lot :)

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  51. Jackee - I know you'll enjoy it!

    I bet your characters are sneaking all kinds of treats behind your back - so I wouldn't worry too much about it :)

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  52. Carol - hotdogs! Love it :) You gotta have all kinds!

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  53. Sometimes they cook, sometimes they go out to eat. One of my chars is excellent at cooking fish!

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  54. Lisa - I'd have to do some research to have my characters as fish cooking experts - not one of those things I'm good at. :)

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  55. My characters have food-generating cubes. They simply say what they want and it appears. It's very Star Trek. :)

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  56. Elana - looooooove it! I always wanted a replicator "Earl Grey, hot". As long as they don't send me tribbles :)

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  57. Ooh--I want what Elana's characters have!

    I don't usually enjoy cooking. I used to love baking, but I do a lot less of it now. My protagonist doesn't do a lot of cooking either, but we both like to eat! And mmm...that cupcake looks really good.

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  58. Dawn - Me too :)

    I do enjoy both cooking and baking, but there's never enough time - it's always a rush and that's no fun.

    I like me some cupcakes :)

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  59. What a cool post -- and a question I haven't asked myself yet. Do my characters enjoy cooking the way I do? I don't think so...definitely not my antagonist, at least. And my protagonist is a twenty-something trying to find her way, and I don't picture her embracing her inner domestic diva. Not at this point in her life, at least. I, on the other hand, am an avid cook and baker. Interesting! Thanks for giving me something to think about!!

    And hey -- congrats on such a popular posting! 60+ comments -- you rock!

    Have a fab week!
    ((hugs)) Nicole

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  60. Thanks so much Nicole!

    I'm in kind of the same boat - I enjoy both baking/cooking, but my characters do as little as possible!

    Thanks for the kind comments :)

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  61. One of our favorite characters, Seth, is always eating. He's rail-thin, but is never without food. We think it's funny.

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  62. My characters haven't done much cooking, and the MC in my current wip is on the run, so she's lucky to get a meal at all.

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  63. Lisa & Laura - I love characters like that! In fact I have a son kind of like that :) It's amazing what he can eat!!

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  64. Patricia - she won't have much time to cook for sure! Sounds like fun :)

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  65. Mm... Food! My characters are supposed to eat? *gasp* I suppose the next thing you'll be telling me is that they need to go to the bathroom occasionally too. So much for THAT torture. *sigh*

    Great post! ;)

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  66. Nisa - lol :)

    If you don't feed them, they're probably just sneaking snacks behind your back!! And using that bathroom too :)

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  67. In my fantasy novels I usually have eating as just something my characters must do in between life-threatening attacks by demons and other bad guys.
    But in my first romance novel, my hero was one man living in an entire community of women. They were amazed by how much he ate and he thought they were trying to weaken him by starving him. It made for some good comedy to mix in with the drama.

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  68. Susan - what a great description "just something to do..." - made me laugh out loud :)

    Poor guy! That sounds like such a fun read! I have a son who eats like that!

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  69. I cook, I love to eat and food is a big part of my character's courtship. Each of my manuscripts have an instance were the main characters share a meal, for there is simply nothing like a great meal and converesation with the one you love.
    Warm regards,
    Simone

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  70. Simone - shared meals can certainly be great times to reveal all kinds of feelings. The first meal my characters share is very awkward for them - a lot of fun for me :)

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  71. One of my favorite crit partners pointed out that my characters are ALWAYS eating! Logically, they should weigh 300 lbs. apiece. Hee, hee.

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  72. Jenny - sounds like fun! It's a very human experience - & eating works well for all kinds of conversations!! :)

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  73. Food is an inanimate character in my book and plays a very important role. I use food and drink along with the five senses to engage the reader.

    Stephen Tremp

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  74. Hey Jemi! I left an award for you at my blog!

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  75. Stephen - sounds really interesting!! Food as an important element sounds like a great idea!!! :)

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  76. Carol - thank you so much!! I'll pop on over :)

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  77. My characters are mostly teens, so they EAT a lot. And they comment about food, too, particularly in school.

    You gotta have food in a book.

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  78. All my characters usually have someone cook for them, which I would love to have. I try my hand at cooking occasionally, but the only thing I'm really good at is cake. If I could live on cake and not be 1000 lbs., it'd be all good.

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  79. I've just started creating two characters in my first attempt at long fiction. I must get them into the kitchen! Thanks for the question that gave me the idea.

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  80. Anne - I agree - especially if it's about teens. My son eats pretty much constantly. :)

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  81. Barbara Ann - yum - cake!! Wouldn't it be great if we could? :)

    I'd like someone to cook for me during the week when it's nutty. I do like to cook/bake, but I need more time!!

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  82. Harvee - anytime! It's all about questions around here! Or so it seems, anyway :)

    Thanks for dropping by!

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  83. I don't like to cook but I do like to eat! I do have some eating going on in my current WIP, and there's a dinner scene and a pub scene in the one before that, but on the whole, there's not a whole lot of food talk going on. That's not like my life at all!

    Thanks for the link, too.

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  84. Belle - eating is always good!! Sometimes cooking & eating just isn't what's important to the characters.

    Enjoy Calista's site :)

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