May 3, 2010

Romancing the Palate (Guest Blogger: Rebecca Lynn)

Thanks so much to Anna Kathryn for letting me guest-blog here! I love a chance to talk about my process, my research, and the inspiring love stories I am writing. Plus, anytime I get to talk about food, I am ecstatic.  

As a consummate foodie (food-lover, Food TV fan, home cook, former professional cook), I am always amazed at the connection between food and sex. Think of the parallels between the language we use for sex and the words we use for food. Hunger, appetite, taste, succulent, spicy, hot, delicious. Confused about which is which? Me too. We kiss with our mouths, and eat with them (but if you know me, you'll know that I hope we don't do them at the same time... it's a saliva thing). When a man/woman smells or tastes appetizing, it's more of a turn-on, sexually, for their partner. Food and love are entwined.

This is, I think, what makes me want to write foodie romances.

The experience I have when eating excellent food is the closest thing I can think of that stimulates the same pleasure pathways as the sensual experience of an intimate encounter (on whatever level). I remember eating a hamburger at a bistro in West Yellowstone where I actually considered a food-gasm. The pleasure of the combination of flavors and textures was so well-balanced, it was the best thing I've had in my mouth in years.

See, even that sounds sexual, right?

The link between food and sex is (I think) intuitive. I love to cook, and I love to eat. I also love to write and read romance novels, so the attempt at writing foodie romances was also intuitive for me. People who know me think it is, anyway. Plus, I get to have an awful lot of fun doing it.

Here's what I do for research for my foodie romance novels. I eat. I cook. I go to restaurants. I take pictures of food. I read food blogs. I read food books. I read other foodie romances. And then... I write about food. I have written about food in many different venues--from restaurant reviews to recipe reviews to cookbook reviews to general food writing--but by far my favorite is writing about food as part of a love story.

Every experience I have with food, I try to use in some way. Why? Food is very sensual. You tend to experience it with more than one sense at a time. In fact, the process of eating engages all the senses. You see the food, you smell it, you hear the way it sounds (does it sizzle, does it crunch, does it crackle, does it slurp), you touch it, and then you taste it. You feel its texture in your mouth, you experience the way it splays across your tongue, or the way its flavor explodes between your lips. See what I mean?

Writing about food makes me more aware of my senses. When I write a scene with Jake (my hero) in the kitchen, I have to be more in his head in order to familiarize myself with his food than I do in almost any other scene I write, because food is very experiential, and it draws me right in. In my opinion, the purpose of a sex scene in a romance novel is to draw the reader into the emotional skin of the characters, and to experience their life more inside their senses. Food scenes do the same thing, for me. When I write about someone's experience with food, I am drawn completely into their senses. And I challenge myself to do that more in my food scenes, which makes me more likely to do it in other non-food scenes.

Try it yourself. You're working on an ms? Put your characters in the kitchen. Or in a restaurant, sharing an excellent meal. Make the food part of the love story. Write about their sensual experience with their food, and with each other. Come over to my blog (Romancing the Palate) this week and let me know how it went. I'm going to do some food writing myself this week, and post some food-writing prompts. Try it out; see how it feels. Maybe you'll join me (or have already joined me) writing foodie romances, too!


Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Rebecca. Welcome. Wow what a great blog. It's not something I thought about before, but makes perfect sence. I usually have food in my stories and try to associate at least one recipe with them and include it in the story. I just sold a sold to TWRP which has several refrences to food. They bring back memories to the hero (and the heroine some), helping him to connect to this woman who he'd never think about as wife material.

I don't think I intentionally made the connection, so thanks for pointing that out to me. I do love to write scenes where they've just eaten something, and then kiss, so that the taste of the cinnimon from the cobbler is there, etc.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Rebecca,

Like you I think meals and food can nicely be inserted in a love story and sensual secene. I often have my hero and heroine sharing a meal or cleaning up in the kitchen. When she eats he watches the dance of her lips and tongue. In the kitchen, he wraps his arms around her when she's doing the dishes.

Rebecca Lynn said...

Thanks, Anna Kathryn. I do love it, and I think a lot of people write about food in romance novels and don't realize how significant an experience it can be sensually. It's just natural for us, because they're so similar. :-)

Thanks for having me!

Rebecca Lynn said...

Thanks, Mona. The experience of eating is very sensual, so it's natural to associate sex and food. I do like to feature food primarily, in non-sexual ways, as well. But it's so natural to make eating a prelude to intimacy.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mary Ricksen said...

I so agree with you and have done this myself!!!
Great blog!
Now I need to go get a burger.

Rebecca Lynn said...

Haha!! Thanks for stopping by, Mary!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Rebecca,
Interesting article, I enjoyed reding it. I didn't think of food in a sensual way and yet when you think about it is quite logical.



Rebecca Lynn said...

Thanks, Margaret. Of course, what I think is logical, isn't always obvious. :-) But this one I felt made a lot of sense. :-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Virginia said...

Hi Rebecca, great post! I haven't though much about food in the romance books but it happens more often then you think. A lot of the food sound really good too!

Rebecca Lynn said...

I agree, Virginia. I think that the food in romance novels often makes me hungry. :-)

Thanks for stopping by!