Thursday, September 04, 2014

Literature-Induced Poundage: It’s Not All Your Fault



You know how it is. The mystery or romance or biography is enthralling, inspiring . . . pretty darn good. You are thoroughly enjoying immersion into another world and expect only to be calm, delighted, and satisfied as you read (or edit). And then . . .  

The author describes food. Not just any food, like a limp piece of wheat toast with unsalted butter and some sugarless jam, but wonderful, stupendous food, like a spread at Thanksgiving with slow-roasted turkey and non-lumpy gravy and special-recipe dressing and homemade pumpkin pie with whipped cream and some cranberry wonder and from-scratch yeast rolls. 

Your reading delight quickly turns into a monster of culinary temptation, pulling, pulling, pulling you into a danger zone. Your stomach starts growling, daring you to ignore it but you cannot. Your mouth waters and you discreetly reach up to check for saliva oozing down your chin. Your vision blurs and you can’t see the words anymore. Your kitchen calls out to you. “Come, come. I have food in here. You know you want to.”  

Well, maybe a little something.

You wander to the kitchen, seemingly nonchalant yet secretly purposeful. A banana? Yes, that would be good. Carrot sticks would be a smart choice. But the author just told you about the scrumptious cakes her character knows how to make melt-in-your-mouth better than anyone else and so maybe she should start a bakery of her own. (She should.)

Or the aroma of the best cheesy garlic bread in the small Midwest town his characters find themselves in, falling in love with the local pizzeria as much as with each other. (Perfectly realistic.)

Or the magnificent Christmas dinners created by the autobiographer’s grandmother who actually knew how to bake several great hams with a maple glaze all at once and make scalloped potatoes from scratch and invited all thirty-seven of her relatives over with food to spare. (Because apparently there were/are women like this.)

Or the detective addicted to M&Ms/Dunkin donuts/gummy bears. (Okay, this might be a little cliché.)

And so you succumb to the lure of (fill in the blank). But it’s not all your fault. I insist the authors take their share of the blame. You didn’t ask for this. You are only human. A human affected by the cruel talents of your favorite authors.

For readers, are you affected when you read about wonderful food in a book? If so, what gets you the most? If not, what’s wrong with you?

For writers, what is your inspiration for writing about food? Cookbooks? Your own kitchen? A relative who is a wonderful cook?

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