I’ve attended writing conferences and workshops since before the turn of the century. Until about ten years ago, writing teachers would advise us to never bore our readers with descriptions of food and drink. “Don’t show your characters eating,” they said. “No one wants to read about that.”
Enter the age of cozy mysteries! An intrepid group of mystery writers gave birth to a genre that in part focuses on food, drink, recipes, and cooking; and the cozy genre proliferation and popularity proves how much readers really do want to know what their favorite characters are eating and drinking. Lattes, hot chocolate, wine, cocktails? Nowadays even the characters in gritty thrillers are sharing their favorite foods and beverages with readers.
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Martin Walker via Zoom for Old Firehouse Books in Ft. Collins, Colorado. (See Old Firehouse Books Facebook page for the video dated March 17, https://www.facebook.com/oldfirehousebooks.) Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police mysteries are set in the Perigord region of France where pre-historical artifacts abound and French cuisine reigns. He weaves French food, wines, gardening, and cooking into his mysteries for such an enjoyable read.
I love the Sue Grafton alphabet mysteries and delight each time protagonist Kinsey Millhone makes her signature peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. She serves them on a napkin for efficient clean up. It’s so much fun when Kinsey ventures to her friend Rosie’s neighborhood café for dinner where Rosie serves the evening special, a variety of dishes from her homeland in Poland, my most memorable being a savory combination of pigs feet and cabbage.
In my Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, protagonist Deputy Mattie Cobb finds her comfort food in the kitchen of Mama T, her foster mother who stirs love into every pot of her green chili with pork. They share homemade flour tortillas and huevos rancheros on Sunday mornings and occasionally make tamales at Mama T’s kitchen table. And when Mattie eats at the local Main Street Diner, she orders a hamburger, fries, and a milkshake.
I love the trend for authors to include different foods, types of drink, and cooking in their books. Authors, what do your characters eat and drink? And readers, what do your favorite characters partake?