While shopping the other day, I ran into a woman who reads my books. She asked me a question that I find I have to answer quite a lot. She wanted to know why I include food in all of my novels. Initially, I chuckled when she asked, and then gave it some thought, as I always do when asked that same question. I think it goes back to childhood, really, where meals together were an important time to catch up with our daily happenings, and to enjoy the taste of homemade goodness.
My mother was a great cook and an even better baker. We had wonderful meals, homemade bread and pastries, and in summer, our garden produced the best veggies ever. I watched Mom make delightful meals and luscious desserts. We always had dessert after dinner, and a yummy snack before bed. No junk food at our house, we lived in the countryside, where there were no stores to run to for snacks.
When I married, an Italian, no less, food played a huge part in our household. I enjoyed baking and still do. Back then, when certain fruits were in season, I’d make jams, jellies, pickles and all those delicious things we’d enjoy throughout the winter. My husband’s father was a chef, who taught me to make chicken cacciatore, eggplant casseroles, the tastiest pasta sauce ever, and many other meals that tickled the taste buds of our friends and family.
My kids grew up and left home, but became great cooks in their own right. Now my grandson cooks on Sundays, making meals for his week ahead. I guess that food plays a major part of all our lives and is comforting to us.
The Vinnie Esposito series began some years ago with Vinnie stopping by her parents’ house to cadge a meal from her family. Even though she and her father butt heads more often than not, he still manages to give her a bag of food to take home with her. Vinnie’s best friend, Lola Trapezi, owns a deli not far from Vinnie’s house, so again, food becomes part of the story. As the other characters in the novels stop by Vinnie’s house, she offers them a snack or a meal. Again, the story includes food. There’s just something special about that and I get comments all the time concerning the importance of how the food plays into the story.
Maybe it’s the comfort of food, or the fact that is brings warmth and meaning to our lives. I’m unsure of the answer, but when I’m asked why I include food in all my novels, I simply say, “It brings us together.” For, if you truly think about it, food does that. How many times do we meet friends for a meal, a snack, or a cookout? Often, we have business meetings that include food. Somehow, it soothes our anxiety.
So, tell me this, how do you feel about food and what does it mean to you? I’d really like to know. In the meantime, I’m off to throw an antipasto together for later. Good eating my friends and thanks for stopping by!