With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’ve found myself getting hungrier and hungrier. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is an excuse to hang out with your family all day and just eat without any expectations or pressures of gifts. There are always great conversations to be had around my family’s Thanksgiving table and I always leave my aunt’s house happy and full. In preparation for the feast to come, I have been thinking more and more about food, which led me to think about the descriptions and accounts of food in some of my favorite books. Even in fantasy lands, where the characters are eating something that does not exist in the real world, I always find my mouth watering when reading the description of a feast. I have decided to compile a small list of authors that, in my opinion, make the meals into focus points of their books rather than just an activity.
George R. R. Martin: In the Song of Ice and Fire series, Martin shows the true decadence of food through various (and numerous) feasts and weddings that the characters attend. The first couple of books were filled with detailed descriptions of food and the delicious confections that were given to the high-class families. From the feasts at King’s Landing to the bread baked by Hot Pie as a gift for Arya, Martin truly has a gift for making his readers hungry. In the later books, however, there is a definite turn from the lavish luxury of the well-to-do to the harsh realities of war and Martin creates eerie scenes of starvation and famine throughout Westeros. The amount of food (whether high or low) sets the tone of Martin’s novels and shows the circumstances of the world that Martin has created.
J. K. Rowling: When Harry Potter is first introduced in Rowling’s series, he is shown as a malnourished child who has never had enough to eat at his aunt and uncle’s house. His cousin, on the other hand, is described as a portly boy who is double the size of young Harry. When Harry finally gets to Hogwarts and sees the amount of food available to him, it is such a beautiful scene. Everything that Harry knew about his life has completely changed, including the amount of food that is presented to him. I’m surprised there weren’t more morbidly obese characters in the Harry Potter series, considering the food in the Hogwarts great hall was never-ending and would simply appear on the plates. I guess Rowling was trying to instill values of self-control in her young readers (or she didn’t think that part through all the way). But you know a food is well-written when it is recreated in the real world. In college, before the creation of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios, one of the girls I knew blew my mind by telling me about how she was brewing her own butterbeer. I thought that was the best thing I’d ever heard. AND THEN I heard that the new Universal Studios attraction would feature a bunch of different foods from the series. I need to go there.
(And now for a bit of nostalgia from my childhood) C. S. Lewis: When I was in the fourth grade, my class read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. One of the big activities that we did when we were reading this book was we had one day where, instead of doing any reading, our teacher was going to bring in Turkish Delight, the candy confection that the White Witch uses to tempt Edmund into joining her evil team. I thought that the candy sounded kind of gross, but I was about 10 years old and thought that it would be a cool thing to do instead of doing work. I remember all of the build up to that special day and how excited I was to be getting a snack during class (I was a chubby kid and loved a good snack). Looking back, I remember I didn’t really like the candy that much (it was too sweet for me), but that iconic food will always remind me of C. S. Lewis’ series, as it was such an integral part of the plot.
Also, I have just realized that, in order to be an important author in my mind, your pen name MUST contain at least one of your initials.
-There’s Always Money in the Beaunana Stand