Today I am thrilled to be bringing you an article from the food writing guru herself, Isabella May. I have been lucky enough to read Isabella’s books and know the magic she can weave with an amazingly mouthwatering storyline.
Why I Can’t Stop Writing About Food!
My fourth novel, The Ice Cream Parlour launches on 15th May 2019, and I suppose it is a time to stop and reflect. I’m a little known author in a world full of literary gems and greats. And yet, I guess I’ve at least established the fact that I’m probably not a one trick pony. I’ve also definitely established the fact that I can’t seem to stop writing about food!
Well, I think the answer to that question is a multi-faceted one.
Food is love…
It really is. Food brings people together around the table in times good and bad, like nothing else, crossing proverbial bridges to narrow cultural and religious divides; uniting enemies, creating friends, igniting romance. There’s power in food! It can be an olive branch just as easily as an aphrodisiac.
We switch the kettle on when we are dealing with heartache. We bake and eat cake to celebrate. We toast success with champagne. So many key moments in our lives can be pinpointed with the taste and smell of what we ate and drank that day. It’s a lovely way to chart social history, too. All of which lends itself brilliantly when it comes to writing a story based around the shenanigans of colourful characters.
And so, for me, it’s a no-brainer to have food there as an intrinsic part of my novels.
A mouthwatering cover is a magnet
Diets go out the window (and that’s the best place for them in any of my books!). Think Joanne Harris’s ‘Chocolat’ and pals. Think Nigella’s plethora of cookbooks (tomes!). It’s impossible to ignore the pull of a classy foodie cover. Our tastebuds dance in anticipation – and then merriment – at the visual reality we can transport ourselves to with just the leafing of a few pages.
And so, unwittingly, food has become my brand. I’m not sure that it will always be centre stage in my books, but it will always, at the very least, be a part of the chorus line.
Gender equality starts with food
Sometimes we have to unravel a few layers to truly understand that. But it’s the small oft overlooked and day-to-day nuances that lead to the big potential changes; things like ‘smashing the glass ceilings for our daughters’ and ‘dismantling the patriarchy’. I like to encourage women (in particular) to shun the scales, ditch the diets and eat whatever the heck they like without feeling the need to justify the calories and fat, without excusing themselves for undoing a button – and when it comes to the latter, that’s why we have table cloths. There’s no better way to do that than via the characters in my books. They’re less preachy than me for a start!
We are getting there (slowly) but oh how my female protagonists would love to speed things up. And so you won’t read about cakes/chocolate/biscuits and pudding being ‘naughty’ in any of my books… not unless those words tumble haphazardly from a character who has not yet had her Eureka moment of enlightenment.
Foodie variety is the spice of life
Finally, I write about food because I just love to experiment with hitherto unheard of concoctions. Yes, especially of the sweet variety. Like an artist with an easel, I guess food, in its written form, is my way of translating my inner budding GBBO/Masterchef from brain cells to paper. I’m one hell of a rustic baker, so never in a million years would I make it onto either show. But I do seem to have a way with words that has even been known to lead readers to raid their mother-in-laws’ pantries in the middle of the night. I kid you not!
Could there be any better reason than that to write about food glorious food?
Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks
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Thank you for taking the time to read this post.