Saturday, January 16, 2010

Let's Eat

For all of the authors on this blog, food, eating, and cooking figure prominently in our writings.  We are on to something.

Food is the universal bonding element for human beings.  In fact, cooking and eating and together may be how we became human beings in the first place.  A new book entitled Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, by Harvard professor Richard Wrangham, posits that the invention of cooking is what led to the rise of humanity.  Wrangham writes that “the adoption of cooking had profound impact on human families and relationships, making hearth and home central to humanity and driving humans into ... traditional male-female household roles.”

Whether this is true or not, I do know that bonding over food is something all of us understand. For all the people on earth, eating is a communal experience.  We learn cooperation, sharing, and love over the cook fire.  Families eat together, and communities come together to feast.  In ancient times, breaking bread together created a sacred bond between individuals.  Eating is sensual - the description of a meal, its appearance, presentation, the aromas; the feel and texture of food in your mouth, your hand; the atmosphere of the kitchen, the diner, the campfire, the restaurant.  The reader understands all of this on a visceral level.  She shares what the character is experiencing.  The author has bonded with the reader over a meal.

Here’s a scene from my second book, Hornswoggled:

“Girl, you’re a block of ice!” Josie exclaimed.  “Get in here and eat something this minute.”  She practically carried Alafair into her big, warm kitchen...

“You’re not going anywhere ‘til you try this cobbler,” Josie informed her.  “I opened a quart of the peaches I canned last June.  It’s still hot.”  She was ladling sweet, runny peaches and crispy-gooey crust into a bowl as she spoke.

“Josie,” Alafair attempted to protest, with a laugh.

“I’ll put some cream on it,” Josie interrupted her, snatching a pitcher off the windowsill.  “Put some meat on you so the cold won’t bother you so much.”

Alafair was so enthralled with the cobbler that for a moment the conversation didn’t register.  The heady aroma of peaches dripping with sweet heavy cream had just about knocked every sensible thought out of her.  “There’s cinnamon in this crust,” she observed dreamily...

Y’all sit down, now.  Eat.

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