Wendy Sparrow has stopped by to share a guest post with us about reading and cravings. Give it a read and then leave us a comment to tell us what books have made you crave food 🙂
Reading and Cravings
The first, but not the last, book I read that had me searching for recipes was Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. Twenty-something years ago, I read that book, and I wanted to try Chicken Marsala. Immediately. I wanted my grubby little hands on it instantly. Other books have had me craving rice pilaf, lemon tarts, chocolate cake, and the list goes on.
When you’re an author, you’re often going over the same words again and again. It’s a little like being pregnant with that book. For whatever length of time you spend on it, that book is a part of you. I even sometimes make facial expressions while writing that correspond to my characters or the mood of the scene. (One reason why I don’t write in public very often.) I live in that world, though. My characters’ cravings become my cravings. One of my characters loves orange chicken, and so do I while working on those books. Omelets and pancakes make reappearances in many of my books, and I’ll find myself announcing to the family that we’re having pancakes, again, while editing them. In Stealing Time, chocolate oranges feature heavily—and, wow, just talking about it, I need one.
I have a love/hate relationship with food in books. On the one hand, food in books creates a sensory cue in our brain that helps us get a deeper read. Even if it’s subconscious, scents and tastes build a world in a reader’s mind, just as much as sights. Have you ever gotten cold while reading about someone eating a frozen treat? Or felt a sense of relief when you read about a hungry person eating? Maybe you haven’t been aware of it, but you might have experienced both.
However, we can’t always get our hands on Chicken Marsala easily, can we, Jennifer? And, some of us have allergies. I’m looking at you, authors who include fragrant popcorn and buttery corn on the cob in their books. Or maybe we haven’t spent enough time on the treadmill for a decadent chocolate cake. Cravings go unfulfilled. *sobs*
But, at the time, we’re in that world—seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting alongside the characters, and it allows us to be there, in our minds. Not to mention, our sensory indulgence through reading and visualizing is free from carbs, sugar, and calories. You can fill your plate and not have to run it off. Reading is even gluten-free.
Food can be a significant part of building a setting and much of life centers around meals. During the director’s commentary on Ocean’s Eleven, the topic of why Brad Pitt is always eating came up. If you’ve watched any movie with him in it, he eats. A lot. While filming Ocean’s Eleven, Pitt supposedly said that Hollywood never showed people eating so he felt like it was a normal thing that he wanted to include, especially since Ocean’s group was so busy that they’d grab food whenever they could. Speculation online has suggested that eating makes Pitt’s jawline look good. Factually, that’s true. We can’t dispute that. But, for whatever reason, take after take, he suffered through nachos and peanut butter for us. Thank you, Brad.
Food is a part of our lives. Each and every one of us probably has a food they associate with comfort or happiness or a memory of someone we love or loved. We might have recipes we feel proud of—that belong to us. Some places I can’t think of without an association of food. New Orleans without jambalaya or beignets? Is it even New Orleans still?
Some foods might remind of us passion. Foods like chocolate trigger dopamine in our system and that rush makes us feel good. So, reading about romance and chocolate—wow, that’s almost too much. Even without the dopamine trigger, there are a whole lot of foods that can be sexy under the right circumstances—if you know what I mean. *winks* Whipped cream? Honey? Strawberries? Sweet can be very sweet, but also hot. Food and romance just go well together. If you’re a Friends fan, you might even remember Joey saying “Grandma’s chicken salad” in a voice filled with suggestion. Okay, that’s probably pushing it.
Writing is in Wendy’s blood as are equal parts of Mountain Dew and chocolate. Wendy has been telling tales since she was a child with varying amounts of success. Her parents clearly anticipated her forays into the paranormal because she heard “The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ over and over. After a childhood spent traveling the world that rolled into her teenage years, she put down roots in Washington State where she lives with a wonderful husband, two quirky kids, and a dog that tries to chew everything. Wendy is active in the OCD and Autism communities and posts on her blog and Twitter to promote awareness in both. In order to avoid cleaning, she usually hides on Twitter where she’ll talk to anyone who talks to her and occasionally just to herself.