Food in Fiction

By | May 13, 2013

Contemporary

Lady of Magick by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Set in an alternate Regency England, Chapter 6 opens on the dessert course of a fancy dinner party.  “Joanna prodded irritably at the spun-sugar cage of glazed profiteroles on her plate.  What was the use of a dish which one could not eat without first attacking it with a pick-axe?  A covert glance up and down the long, elaborately decorated table suggested that her fellow dinner-guests were similarly reluctant to engage in this gastronomic battle, and that those who had dared were faring poorly.  Across the table and to Joanna’s left, an irate dowager duchess was surreptitiously removing fragments of spun sugar from her décolletage; several places to her right, an unfortunate young man was staring down in bewilderment at the wide, flat circle of puff-pastry, spun sugar, and cream that now surrounded his plate.  Joanna suspected an attempt to extract the profiteroles from their cage by magick.”

Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

In the last story in this collection we have a scene with Coyote: “He opened his bottle [of cranberry-apple juice] and drank a sip, grimacing at the taste. ‘Too much corn syrup,’ he said. ‘Don’t they know it will stunt my growth?'”

Fury’s Kiss by Karen Chance

In Chapter 20, the protagonist (Dory, a 500 year old warrior dhampir living in modern New York and having very plebeian tastes) faces off with an old (vampire) French chef (on loan from her vampire lover) over acceptable breakfast fare.

“What ees zat?” he demanded, eyeing my prize.

“Cheese.”  I held it up.

“Zat ees not cheese.”

“How do you know?”

“Eet is orange.”

“A lot of cheese is orange.”

Non!  No cheese ees that color.  Cheese comes zee milk.  Zee milk, eet ees white.  When ‘ave you seen milk that looks like zat?”

I held up the square of little slices and pointed at the bold-faced label.  “Processed American Cheese.”

He snatched the package, without letting go of his hostage [Dory’s ‘sandwich’ of toasted freezer waffles, cold cuts, pickles, and mayo].  And eyed it warily.  “Eet says ‘cheese food.'”  He looked up, obviously perplexed.  “What ees thees?  Zee cheese, it does not eat.”

The standoff is resolved when the chef bribes her with “an omelet of the gods” (made sans ‘cheese food’).

In Chapter 34, Dory has a flashback of her arrival in late fifteenth or early sixteenth century Venice.

And, oh, the food.  I had never known anything like it.  Veal liver fried in grape-seed oil and served on little sticks.  Stuffed baby squid swimming in fish broth.  Huge dishes of steamy polenta with fried fish and eggplant.

…  He was selling platters piled high with sweetened rice cakes, honey fritters topped with gingered almonds, clusters of nuts boiled with honey, and what the Venetians called calisconi – wonderful marizipan-filled raviolis that melted on the tongue.

Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire

From Chapter 15: Sunil and Rochak are Madhura – humanoid gingerbread men – running a shop called Gingerbread Pudding in NYC.  Verity, the human protagonist, is escorting the brothers into hiding; Istas, a waheela – essentially an Alaskan were-bear who’s humanoid, is guarding the front room of the hideout.  Verity narrates the following.

…Rochak was dragging a cooler filled with gingerbread, cookies, and jars of assorted types of sugar in both liquid and granular forms.  I’d never realized there were so many kinds of natural sweetener.  Watching a Madhura pack his kitchen was definitely an education…

“Istas, this is Sunil and Rochak,” I said, indicating them each in turn.  “They’re Madhura.”

Her expression – a mixture of wariness and blank incomprehension – didn’t change.

I tried again: “They’re cryptids, they’re harmless, and they brought cookies.”

“Why did you fail to open with the word ‘cookies’?”  Istas set her sewing supplies aside and stood in a single fluid gesture.  The smile she turned toward Sunil and Rochak contained a few too many teeth.  “Baked goods are one of the primary accomplishments of civilization.”

“Along with…?” prompted Uncle Mike.  I couldn’t blame him.  I’d been tempted to do the same thing.

“Waterproof mascara, conditioner, and bleach,” said Istas…

…”I will extend my protection to you in exchange for cookies.”…

…Istas glanced between us and the cooler, and then went after the cooler, choosing the potential for more cookies over company…

Manga

One Piece Vol 38

Author Eichiro Oda muses on using the term ‘instrumental’ in domains outside of music.  He suggests “Moms, when you’ve forgotten to buy the ingredients for miso soup [Japanese manga], you should tell your families this: ‘Tonight’s miso soup is an instrumental.'”

One Piece Vol 39

“Ramen Kung Fu” is used against Sanji, the One Piece cook as in “Soul man pasta press!!!” and “Feeling like a wet noodle because you underestimated my power, you fool?!!”; and Sanji’s responding “Escalope” kick and “In battle, it is my policy not to use either hands or cooking knives, both of which are sacred to cooks.

Food Wars!

(See the Teen Manga post for the full review.)  Japanese attention to preparation and ingredients in a combination of culinary (high) school and local restaurant settings.  A small number of people hear music in terms of colors; a lead character in this series tastes in terms of images (she has a “divine tongue”).  For example in Volume 1 she exclaims, “That bowl of oyster and rice soup was particularly horrid!  It tasted as if I were trying to enjoy a hot spring bath while a western lowland gorilla stared at me!”  The included recipe, Aspic & Egg Curds Furikake Rice (or ‘Morphing’ Furikake Rice), in Volume 1 sounds interesting for chicken eaters… but is a bit misleadingly titled.  ‘Aspic’ in English refers to a loaf of various savory ingredients set in gelatin rather than to gelatin cubes (from a reduced chicken consommé in this case); ‘Egg Curds’ are simply scrambled eggs; and ‘Furikake’ is a dry seasoning mix originally meant to be sprinkled over rice – not a seasoned rice dish as is used in this recipe title.

Dim Sum Warriors : Enter the Dumpling

Volume 1 of Dim Sum Warriors : Enter the Dumpling introduces readers to the pantheon of dim sum menu items as categorized by cooking style.  Each style is represented by a group of anthropomorphized warriors such as the Fried Kung Academy and the School of Steam Kung.  Perhaps revealing the roots of the writers, the warriors are called by their Mandarin (i.e. mainland Chinese) names rather than by their Cantonese (i.e. Hong Kongese) or English appellations (though these are helpfully provided in the introduction and in the character profiles).  More properly, dim sum is Cantonese while various wheat-based dumplings originated in Northern China and rice dishes such as congee originated in Southern China.

References

See the Nutrition Books, Food Media, and Food Vocabulary posts; and posts in the Fiction category.


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