15 July, 2008

Food in Fiction - The Character Eats

Enough and more has been written about food by Chef’s , Dieticians, Nutritionists, Experts, Gourmet’s and all other pretenders ( "yours truly" included ) who would quite serenely address themselves under the ‘hip’ sobriquet “Foodie”. 

Here I would bring your attention to authors of fiction and the characters they have created and their taste in food. Authors through their characters display a distinct fondness to certain choice items in food and drink. This has been my observation.

When the bartender asked “What’s your poison?" & James Bond answered “One Large Martini. Very dry, shaken and not stirred” in Casino Royale, the Martini was never the same anymore. From that moment on, the Martini belonged to Bond.

Shakespeare the most prolific author of all times doesn’t look like he enjoyed food too much. All his characters lived and breathed emotions, they are not shown eating much. There are only Feasts , without too great an attention to the menu
( imagine the great bard being faulted for this.. ;-) and goblets of wine, but that’s all, nothing more does he write.

Hercule Poirot , created by Agatha Christie was made Belgian. This by itself is the key cornerstone for all his colorful eccentricities. Those that very starkly and charmingly stand out in the staid Victorian milieu of Christies London and English countryside. Poirot drank Hot Chocolate with much relish or asked for a measure of bitter Tisane and smoked dainty small Egyptian cigarettes while sitting inside heated rooms with his muffler on.

When Dashiell Hammett, the father of the modern detective novel & a former Pinkerton Detective himself, started writing, the detectives became real and earthy. He was the one who created the chain smoking detective.This was the norm until the nineties after which smoking wasn't cool anymore. Then the Cops and Detectives in books and movies started popping chewing gum, jelly beans and the like. They stuck to takeaways, bagels or doughnuts and lots of black coffee on their stakeouts.

But my prize for the most dedicated foodie author goes to Lawrence Sanders. No author has had his lead characters relish food and lavish attention on food as much as Sanders . He created three characters across his series of books. Edward Delaney- The tough ponderous cop in the Sin & Commandments series, Timothy Cone- The financial sleuth who cracks open wall street shenanigans and finally the dashing
Archibald McNally- The discreet enquiries investigator of a Florida law firm. All of Sander’s characters gorge on food. Supermarket food, street food and all else. They make all kinds of combo dishes as they go about their business.

Delaney favours huge wet sandwiches. He eats them while bending over the kitchen sink , as the relish would drip. His huge bites, through strong yellowed teeth and ruminous munching , is almost soul searching in its nature.

Timothy is a grunge eater. His food is not just messy; He and his neutered cat Cleo dig the same kind of food. Pizzas, strips of bacon, may they be hot or frozen ,stale and sometimes mouldy even are washed down with frozen vodka and Camel cigarettes.

The stylish gourmet is McNally. He has great food in equally polished settings. He dines at his club or at his residence. His family is really well-to-do and employ cordon bleu cooks who serve the choiciest of creations. His involvement and additions to the menu at his Pelican Club is not just funny but spectacular in its fastidiousness. His drinks are varied cocktails , His cigarettes English Ovals, Even his medium rare hamburger with accompaniments is a work of art.

“Eat and be merry for life is but a song
now that breakfast & lunch are over, I wait for the dinner gong”

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