#4 — Food in Fiction

It’s been fun looking at how Food is used in Fiction, examining how others have used it. How about how you can use it in your book?

Have you thought about that?

Just as in life, food can be a great ice-breaker. How many weddings have you been at where you sit round a table with six or seven strangers, all wondering what to talk about, until the food arrives. “Mmm, this soup’s delicious!” “That pate looks nice.” And you’re off, you’ve broken the ice, uttered the first syllables and you’re okay now right through to the syllabub.

Your characters can do the same. They can comment on the food. A grumpy character can grumble, a cheery character can prattle, a moody character can head down and eat without saying a word. And your reader will get the message.

The language the characters use might hint at their social standing, education or how well travelled they are. Their response to certain foods might tell about their background. The manner in which they eat might do the same job.

There are other things the use of food and drink references can accomplish. They can help to set a scene, create an atmosphere, or let the reader see how characters interplay.


In her book The Early Bird Cafe, author Carrie Aulenbacher weaves a tale of sweet romance bound to have you reaching for another cup of coffee as you read. I haven’t read the whole book, so I can’t necessarily recommend it, but it does look as though food is used effectively in this piece of fiction. See what you think yourself.

Her main characters, Jim and Eve, share breakfast every morning at the Early Bird Cafe.

This short excerpt lets us, the readers, see the part food plays in their routine.


He ordered coffee for him and French toast for me before I could even protest.
“Don’t go putting the cart before the horse, now,” I said as Cassie took the order back to the kitchen.

He waved off my reprimand.

“Don’t worry, I’ve been thinking for a while that I should treat you to French toast at least once a month.” He sipped slowly at his coffee.

It was easy to see that the café blend was no match for my prepackaged attempts at home. I checked the paper while we waited. Our orders were on the table in a flash.
“You’re celebrating early,” I said when the food came. The French toast was undeniably delicious compared to my usual toast.
“I’m just thanking you for being you,” he said.
“If you still want me to go . . .” I said, punctuating the thought with a forkful of French toast.

He shook his head.
“I’ll be fine,” he said. “I told you this will all be fixed soon.” He put down his cup.
“I was thinking I’d go to Mom’s house on Sunday,” I slowly suggested.
He waved off another cup as he listened to me.

“Maybe you’d want to show her your new car?”
“Will there be cookies for dessert?” he quipped. Jim knew my mother always had dessert waiting after a home-cooked meal.
“Maybe even pie,” I said.
He smiled. “Sure, why not?” he said.


As you can see, the references to food are woven in to the scene, giving it a setting and some action while the dialogue takes place, killing two (early?) birds with one muffin, so to speak.


It is the author’s task to help the reader see the scene and get to know the characters and using food and drink is just one of the ways that can be achieved. Why not give it a go, and let me know if you do. I’d love to read some of the ways you use Food in Fiction.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Zee
    Nov 04, 2014 @ 07:13:20

    Lots to think about here. I’ve used it only really as a comfort food, and perhaps as a reflection of the character’s culture.

    A great series of posts, Christine.

    Liked by 1 person


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