Whilst an enthusiastic reader, I don’t have any ‘collections’ of books (and am not exactly in the income bracket to be a keen collector of first editions). Except, that is, for my small collection of cookbooks. This was started, as collections often are, quite by accident. There’s a load from the 1960s and 70s, The Cranks Recipe Book, the original Moosewood Cookbook, and my prized original 1972 copy of Anna Thomas’s The Vegetarian Epicure (I love the way she casually mentions “This two-hours late course is especially recommended if grass is smoked socially at your house.”) And yes, I am one of them there vegetarians.
They are not all the useful for writing research – though I have recently dipped into Mrs Beeton’s Household Management (1861, though a facsimile in this case!) for some of her mid 19th-century delights – lark pie anyone or Aunt Nelly’s Pudding? Or perhaps instructions on clarifying beef dripping or effervescing gooseberry wine?
Anyway, whilst this modest collecting of cookbooks may be a separate matter, food does keep finding its way into what I write. One reason is I have always been curious about what and how people eat, and this extends to reading. Revealing what people are eating will say so much about time and place, income, lifestyle and attitudes. Then there’s sensuality. Because food is so sensual, isn’t it? Taste, texture, smell; they’re all such voluptuous senses, aren’t they? And then there are the emotional connections with food.
Because I am going to be busy with more job application procedures this weekend, today I am going to point to a previous post If Food Be the Music of Love, about that classic connection between food and sensuality. No, not aphrodisiacs, but the oozing, trickling, sinewy, wobbling, firm, aromatic, pungent, fiery savour of it.
In a scene I’m writing, I’ve just had to stop my couple from cooking and eating together. Yes, put the chopper down people and back away from that carrot. I had to give them a different ‘warm-up activity’ to do instead. Not because there isn’t a strong affinity between food and sex, and indeed love, but because I’ve realised how often throughout the book this ravenous duo, and other partnerships, are at it. Chowing down, that is. And I don’t use the term as a euphemism.
Food is the perfect association for sex. It’s a major pleasure, one hungers for it, may crave it, and is satisfied by it. It can symbolise and it can fuel the sexual appetite. In her article The Relationship Between Sex and Food, Maryanne Fisher notes chocolate, avocados, and almonds as purported aphrodisiacs. Chocolate so dark, voluptuous, and rich (reputed to have been banned…
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