When my writing partner and I received revision notes on our first Heartwarming, one task we had to do was cut down the number of times our romantic couple ate together (with specific food details). To my surprise, I realized our protagonists ate dinner or lunch more than eight times in the first ten chapters alone! Was I obsessed with food or what?
The answer is no . . . and yes . . . but with good reason.
Since I was old enough to read, I would glance through my mother’s women’s magazines and note the ever-present diet plans, alongside mouthwatering recipes for chocolate cake and other high calorie dishes. The tradition still continues in Woman’s Day, Ladies’ Home Journal, and the like. I believe we women have grown up to be schizoid about food. There are very few of us who don’t want to lose a pound or ten, while at the same time we are drawn to reading about food or looking at full-color photos of easy-to-make chicken enchiladas or fettuccine-something.
Nowadays, food and cooking has become something of an art. There are imported delicacies available in grocery stores ranging from fresh-made sushi to hand-ground Indian spices. Even in the small town I came from, once home to nothing more than a couple of burger joints, there is a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican café, and a Greek diner. On TV, I can watch topnotch chefs face off and classically trained amateurs try to outbake or out-boil each other with hand-decorated cupcakes or beautiful deviled eggs. Everyone seems to know how to “plate” (see “fine art” version of a Polish sausage with fruit, hot peppers, and ketchup below).
Food as art
And isn’t writing an art, commercial or otherwise?
Anyhow, the thing is, I’m giving myself a higher level excuse for including eight meals for the hero and heroine in ten chapters, okay?
The truth is, I am not sitting around dreaming about food. And I really am not obsessed with food every moment.
But I do have a subscription to Food Network Magazine which I read every month, yet have never made even one of its recipes. And I do love amusing food sites such as “Cake Wrecks” which features everything from misspelled messages on cakes to for-adults-only edible creations. Furthermore, I watch every Top Chef competition on Bravo, though I don’t want to eat everything the top chefs create. I would never order a “crudo,” raw meat or fish, and I’m not interested in decorative citrus/salt “foam” on top of my desserts, thank you.
I’m a food art appreciator. And so are our heroes and heroines, as well as, I suspect, a large number of our readers. In modern day society, made international by the Internet and nation-wide cable TV, food is a visual and an actual feast.
Furthermore, I believe society is moving toward more gender-equality, even with food. That’s why we had the hero in at least half of our books cook meals for the heroine.
Happy post-Valentine’s Day!