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Food in Gothics (and reader suggestibility)
#1
Okay, I know this is a trivial thread. But am I the only one who is susceptible to the power of suggestion when authors describe food in stories?

I remember when I first became aware of this phenomenon: I was reading At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie in which Miss Marple savors a hot buttered [English] muffin. I was overcome by an irresistible craving for one myself, and it's not something I usually eat. I had to make do with a slice of hot buttered toast and a cup of coffee, but it just wasn't the same. I think Agatha waxed gluttonous about this muffin for at least sixteen pages, or so it seemed.

I'm presently reading The Winter Bride by Carola Salisbury, and I find myself drooling over the descriptions of Victorian feasts. Sideboards groaning under mounds of succulence, multiple courses, rich aromas of roasting meats wafting from the kitchen . . .

I have learned that the old maxim about shopping applies equally well to books: Never read while hungry. You might stumble on a description of an ortolan flambéed in brandy and now where would you get that?

-- Penfeather
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#2
It's not trivial, it's a good thread. Smile

I love descriptions of food and/or weather in the stories. Smile While I often don't feel a compulsion to prepare and eat what's described, yep...my appetite often gets whetted, lol.

One thing I don't ever crave is "tea and toast." Egad, that's already old. ;p

In "Reception at Hightower," the heroine basically never eats. She's recuperating from a nervous breakdown, is in a hostile environment (of course), is quite possibly teetering on the edge of another nervous collapse...and all she consumes are coffee and cigarettes. Sad No wonder she's half anemic and hallucinatory...

I can't help wondering how much of the authors' own attitudes towards food factors in; probably quite a bit. Some of them must have been flat-out anorectic.

A really good Gothic with lots of food references is We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Someday I'm going to make a 2-layer cake [1 chocolate, 1 vanilla] decorated with pink frosting and golden foil leaves about the edges, and call it "The Merrycat Cake." Smile And no, it won't contain any..."additives"...such as that found in certain sugar bowls - lol.
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