I use food and mealtimes quite a bit in Singled Out. Here are just a few thoughts on what food related scenes can do for a story.
- A social/sociable meal involving two or more people: At home, in a hotel or restaurant, on a picnic, at a barbecue; useful in showing the nature of relationships and the dynamics between various characters. Caution though – this does need quite a bit of dialogue.
- Someone eating alone: Reveal character through how they prepare food, what they choose to eat, how they eat and what they do whilst they’re eating.
- During a sexual scene: Add a luscious dimension that takes your scene beyond the turgid ‘he touched this, she stroked that…’ zone. Adds sensuality, deploys all the senses without focusing on the obvious.
- How someone responds to food: Reveal character through how someone reacts to new or unusual food, or to eating with their fingers or unfamiliar implements. Are they adventurous or narrow-minded, sensual or constrained? Useful in demonstrating how someone’s attitude or demeanour changes over time too.
- For nostalgia: The flavours and and aromas of long-forgotten foods, sweets and treats from childhood, school dinners and nursery favourites are all wonderful tools to evoke a mood or nostalgia, or to segue to a flashback/past-times.
- In the kitchen: A great location to deploy all the senses – sights, sounds, smells, touches and taste; can be a place of danger (knives, open flames) or comfort (cosy family setting).
- A particular single item of food: There are so many different ways of eating, say, an ice-cream, a slice of cake, a plate of wings or ribs, spaghetti, or almost anything else you can think of; can highlight the differences between people, display greed, gluttony, shyness or sensuality.
If you have any favourites that aren’t on this off-the-top-of-my-head list, please do share them.