The Romance of Food
I’m writing a blog in our local newspaper about romance and food. Which has been the cause of a joke or two about when I’ll be writing about which flavor of ice cream or brand of whipped cream to use when you’re…ah…shall we say, creatively using such foods in rooms other than the kitchen and dining room.
Sorry, guys. Not gonna happen. More likely, I’ll be writing about how cooking for and eating with someone you care for is as true an act of love as kissing is. M.F.K Fisher, the famous American food writer, said it best for me: “Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be engaged in lightly.”
Why? Why do we get the urge to feed someone we love? Why are so many romances conducted over dinner? I think it’s because we associate feeding with the first thing we know in life but don’t remember—the love of the person who first feeds us. There’s even a theory that kissing comes from this act—a mother who pre-chews food and passes it from her mouth to the mouth of her child, like a mother bird to her chicks.
Yeah, I’m not sure about that either.
However, there’s no doubt for me that food is comfort, food is caring, food is romance. We cook for each other when we celebrate, when we mourn, when we love.
Especially when we love. It’s such a big deal, we’ve built up cultural beliefs and taboos surrounding certain foods—like the ones reputed to be aphrodisiacs. (The word comes from the name of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, in case you were wondering.)
It’s easy to understand how some foods got their rep—foods that resemble sexual organs are on the list, of course: asparagus and bananas resemble a male penis, the fig, a woman’s uterus. But lobster has no resemblance to any human organ I ever studied in my anatomy class. So how did it get on the list? I think it’s the rich, smooth texture on the tongue. And all that butter? Yum. Sexy doesn’t begin to describe it. How about oysters—they could conceivably be seen as male or female organs but again I think it’s texture and mouth feel, in addition to the salty sea smell that make it the first food most people think of as aphrodisiac.
I always try to include a scene in my romance novels that includes a meal. Sometimes it’s a seduction scene. Sometimes one of the couple cooks for the other. Sometimes, as in my newest release, “Trusting Again,” it’s the first meal they share. In this case, it’s dinner for Marius and Cynthia at his favorite Seattle restaurant.
Type: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Imagine Cynthia Blaine’s surprise when she walks into the bar at the Heathman Hotel in Portland Oregon and sees the man she’s been trying to forget for weeks after he commissioned an expensive piece of her jewelry for “a friend’s birthday.” There was no point fantasizing about him. He was taken.
But over a cup of coffee, he convinces her to give this relationship a try. Marius woos her on a sailing trip through the San Juan Islands and their romance seems on solid grounds. But during his six-week business trip to Central America, Cynthia gets a shock. And when she goes to Portland to pour out her heart to her best friend, she has another shock—Marius, in Portland, not where he said he would be and with another woman.
It’ll take more than a good cup of coffee this time to get Cynthia and Marius to their happily-ever-after.
“I wouldn’t have predicted you’d let someone else order for you.”
“I don’t normally. But you pick great wine; you serve good coffee; you have your own table here. You’ll surely do better than I would. I’d just be guessing at what’s good.”
“All right then, I will. You’re not allergic to anything, are you?”
“No, and I like just about everything. Except lima beans. I hate lima beans.” She picked up her napkin and put it on her lap. “Oh, and sweet potatoes. Don’t like them either.”
“Good to know. I dislike seeing my dinner companion’s face puff up or turn green because I’ve fed her something she doesn’t like or is poisonous.”
“I’ve never thought about those possibilities before, but I’ll keep them in mind the next time I have the urge to let someone else order for me. They might not be so considerate.”
When the waiter arrived, Marius ordered Caesar salads, Chateaubriand for two with roasted vegetables—no lima beans or sweet potatoes, please—and a bottle of Malbec. After the server left, he said, “Their beef is the best in the city, so I thought we’d eat classic tonight instead of trendy.”
“Classic is good. I wondered if you’d go all oysters and champagne.”
“Am I to infer from that you think—or believe I think—one of us needs aphrodisiacs?”
She could feel her face redden. “No, I wasn’t implying anything. Really.”
The smile that curved up the sides of his mouth was so sensual, she felt her insides begin to melt. This man affected her more with a smile and one glance of his dangerously dark eyes than any man she’d ever known could do with considerably more contact.
“We don’t need aphrodisiacs. We have all the chemistry we need without them.” He took her hand and raised it to his mouth. This time, she didn’t pull away. He kissed her fingers then nipped at the flesh at the base of her thumb. She shuddered and saw his dark eyes get darker.
Having proved his point, he lowered their hands to the table but didn’t release her until the server brought their salads.
What’s your favorite romantic food? Let me know in the comments for a chance to receive a copy of “Trusting Again” for your ereader.
Open until June 12th @ 11:59pm EST with the winner announced shortly after