Eating emotions

Eating. We all do it, and so do the imaginary people I bring to life in my stories. Food is important in the real world, it’s familiar and can bring people together or tear a person apart. For some it’s just sustenance and not important. For others it can be all consuming, the life-force to which their very souls depend. It can be joy, pleasure, happiness, torture, guilt, shame, control, and more. Food can signify the promise of fulfilment, both physical and emotional.

Nobody wants to read a full on description of every component of a meal, but a familiar description of sight smell and taste. (Use caution if not writing in first person narrative about describing smell and taste, it will need to be filter word free and shown not told.) Most people know what things smell and taste like, a small reminder or a luscious one can evoke emotion in the reader that holds them tight to the story and endears them to the characters I want them to love as much as I do.

Writing food and food interaction is a fantastic tool in my opinion to highlight a person’s likes, dislikes, flaws, quirks and habits, good or bad. The opportunity is there to create witty dialog or bring characters at odd with one another to a common ground.  It can be a spectacular method of conveying emotion or even emotional state.

Comfort food. What not to do.

Anne wiped her tears and pulled her knees to her chest as the apartment door opened behind her.
“Hey you.” Garry kissed the top of her head and set the large deep-dish pizza down on the solid oak coffee table in front of the couch that Anne sat on while crying. “After what happened I thought you could use some comfort food.”
She nodded and wiped her face again as he sat and pulled her into his arms. “It was humiliating that Jane got the promotion. I know how she got it. Thieving bitch.”
He rubbed her back. “Well.” He said sitting up and he reached down and opened the box. The thick bubbly crust perfectly cooked to perfection. The spicy garlic tomato based sauce well hidden below layers of melted stringy mozzarella cheese.  The hot and spicy greasy pepperoni covered the pie generously and the crunchy crumbled bacon stuck in the cheese smelled salty and savoury.  
“Mmm.” She reached for a slice. “You’re the bestest.”
“I am.” He chuckled. “And eventually Jane’s true quality of work will become apparent, because you’re going to stop doing it all for her. Then when they look, they’ll see who the talent in that office is.”
Anne covered her half-full mouth behind her hand. “Yeah. Screw her.” She smiled. (216)

Seriously, it’s pizza in a fiction, not a recipe book or flowery restaurant review.

Anne wiped her tears and pulled her knees to her chest as the apartment door opened behind her.
“Hey you.” Garry kissed the top of her head and set a steaming pizza box on the low coffee table in front of her. “After what happened I thought you could use some comfort food.”
She nodded and wiped her face again as he sat and pulled her into his arms. “It was humiliating that Jane got the promotion. I know how she got it. Thieving bitch.”
He rubbed her back. “Well.” He said sitting up and opening the box freeing the smell of spicy sauce, cheese, bacon and peperoni upon them.
“Mmm.” She reached for a slice. “You’re the bestest.”
“I am.” He chuckled. “And eventually Jane’s true quality of work will become apparent, because you’re going to stop doing it all for her. Then when they look, they’ll see who the talent in that office is.”
Anne covered her half-full mouth behind her hand. “Yeah. Screw her.” She smiled. (169)

In some cases I want super vague, to demonstrate the characters lack of interest in the details.

Mark looked at the selection of chocolate bars and yelled ‘no!’ in his head. The reflection of himself in the shop window showed him the gut that hung over his slacks, his thick neck and double chin.
His stomach growled as he looked back, blindly grabbed and placed two bars on the counter along with the chips. Then two more as the clerk rung up his selections.
Leaving the store his frown deepened as he unwrapped two bars and tossed the wrappers in the trash before climbing into his truck.
He barely tasted them as he finished the second before he even turned over the engine. “Tomorrow.” He looked at his reflection in the rear-view mirror. With tears pricking his eyes, he fumbled with another wrapper. “Tomorrow I’ll start the diet.” He sniffled with his mouth full. “Tomorrow.”

Everyone knows what a chocolate bar (Or candy-bar) is brand and type wasn’t necessary here. Sometimes a bit more detail is necessary to set the tone… This is where the idea discussed in The FAB pencil comes in handy.

The bright red strawberry gave off its ripe fragrant aroma as Valery brought it to her lips. Parting them slightly she bit into the sweet juicy berry as Grant watched. His mouth watered not for the food, but for the sensual look in her eyes. Both for the fruit and for him. Unless he was imagining her attraction. He closed his eyes a moment to open them as her strawberry flavored lips touched his.

My advice about food.
People eat, so should our imaginary friends. I do recommend keeping the descriptions short and sweet, not too salty. I can’t make any promises, but if you trim the fat when necessary and garnish when it’s important you will grab your readers attention.

-Sheryl

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