Food is something that everyone can connect to, either in loving a dish or hating it. Either way you can really bring life and reality to any story by making the food stand out. It doesn't always have to be the primary focus of the scene, but I want it to feel real to the reader. In The Crystal Needle, the food scenes weren't constant, but they were present. From Elsabethes stew and cookies to the banana split shared on the first date. Each time you aren't overwhelmed by a lengthy and boring description of the food, but I wanted you to realize it was there and even, perhaps, want a taste of it.
In the recent fantasy novel I wrote, the Rakki race love spicy foods. They put spice on everything and it has to be incredibly hot. To make it feel real I give at least one scene in which the main character, who isn't Rakki, eats some and experiences real spice for the first time in his life. Here is the excerpt:
|Treb a Rakki|
Markus picked up his spoon and looked at the pot of soup, "Do you mind if I taste it first?"
Crystal was so eager for him to try it she didn't even say anything, just nodded.
He dipped his spoon in and scooped up a single piece of chicken along with a bit of the heavy broth. First he blew across it to cool it off, then he carefully put it in his mouth. The first flavor was the bright herbs and spices of the chicken. It was good. Then it hit him. The spice grew and grew, it felt like it was burning a hole through his tongue. His forehead began to sweat and there were tears forming in his eyes. The burning started on his tongue and then moved to every soft part of his mouth. In fact his teeth might just melt. His very first instinct was to spew, but he happened to glance up and see that earnest face on Crystal as she waited with that big smile, knowing he would love this soup as much as she did. He didn't want to offend her, and he really thought she was cute, so he didn't want to screw anything up by insulting their food. So, against every ounce of common sense and the fear in his stomach, he swallowed. The whole way down he felt that spice trying to eat holes in his body. He wasn't sure if he would survive this. Finally it was down and the burning was barely beginning to subside. Calmly and with the appearance of just having another drink he picked up his water glass and drank. It was supposed to be a sip, but he downed the whole glass in one single gulp.
"Do you like it? Isn't it wonderful? Treb makes the best soups." Crystal was so happy because Markus had gotten to try one of the best foods in all of Gallenor.
Being a teenage boy, he couldn't insult a pretty girl that showed any interest in him. So, he managed a smile, used his napkin to wipe the sweat from his brow and the tears in his eyes, and nodded. "Oh, it is certainly....good." he had done himself in. How was he supposed to eat without having another bowl of that soup? He was doomed.