You might not be able to relate to someone who only wears Prada and drives a Maserati, but let’s face it, as human beings, we all have at least one thing in common: We must eat in order to survive. Whether it be the humble PBJ or French cuisine, something must fill our stomachs.
But eating isn’t just about staying alive. Nearly every holiday we celebrate is associated with a particular food or meal—just imagine celebrating Thanksgiving without the dinner!—and the sharing of food is deeply ingrained in every culture. You wouldn’t invite someone over to your house without providing them with some sort of refreshments. It simply isn’t done. By the same token, refusing what is offered could be seen as a major insult.
Cooking is also a terrific means for expressing creativity. The combinations of foods and flavors are endless, particularly if you don’t limit yourself to one particular cuisine. Tina Hayes, the heroine of MUST LOVE COWBOYS, does this by searching for recipes online and then adding her own personal touches.
Food can be beautiful as well as tasty. Whenever I’m out with friends and someone orders a particularly awesome dessert, someone nearly always posts a picture of it on Facebook. Fans of The Great British Baking Show will tell you that while they get a kick out of the show’s hosts and judges, the delightful-looking confections the contestants create steal the spotlight every time.
Food plays an important role in caring for children. Nothing is more important to a parent than ensuring that their kids have enough to eat. That nurturing instinct is hardwired into our DNA, and without that powerful drive, our species wouldn’t have survived and thrived. Being able to produce a surplus of food has enabled our intelligence to evolve, allowing us to develop other aspects of our culture—music, art, industry, and science.
Food can also be sensuous. The reportedly orgasmic property of chocolate at least partly explains its popularity, but the flavors of many other foods have a similar effect. Think back to the last time you moaned with pleasure when biting into something truly delicious and you’ll understand what I mean. Some foods are credited with aphrodisiac qualities, while others can be used in more erotic settings, such as during foreplay. I’ve used food in several of these ways in many of my novels, but this classic scene from Tom Jones says it all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tezjznL9NzM.
The foodie novel has become popular in recent years, perhaps because of the DIY gourmet food trend or the prevalence of television cooking shows. I don’t know about you, but every time I watch Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, I wind up trying my hand at one of the recipes. But even before television brought Julia Child into our homes, there has long been a connection between food and literature. The use of food enables authors to depict various thematic elements in a subtle yet clear fashion. Feeding someone denotes nurturing and caring, while denying food illustrates hatred or coercion. Sharing food represents friendship, camaraderie, and love.
One of my favorite books, THE CRYSTAL CAVE (the first volume in Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy) illustrates the use of food in literature. After a miserable voyage across the English Channel, young Merlin arrives cold, destitute, and ravenously hungry at the headquarters of his father’s army. There, he is given a hot bath and warm clothing, followed by a dinner that Merlin declares is the best he’s ever eaten in his life. I’ve recreated that meal a time or two—my husband refers to it as The Merlin Meal—which consisted of a shellfish soup, chicken fried crisply in oil, sausages bursting with onions, and new bread fresh from the bake-house ovens. We thought it was delicious, but can you imagine what a starving homeless boy’s reaction would be? No one has to tell Merlin that he has finally found a safe haven; the message is perfectly clear.
In MUST LOVE COWBOYS, Tina has always been too shy around men to openly express her feelings toward them. Now that she’s been tossed into a bunkhouse full of cowboys, she focuses on providing them with the best meals she can dream up. She draws on fond memories of her own childhood to create breakfasts of scrambled eggs, bacon, and biscuits with gravy, as well as lunches with chicken salad sandwiches and fresh fruit. Her dinner menus include such meals as pork chops with baked sweet potatoes and Caesar salad, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with broccoli casserole and tossed salad, and teriyaki chicken wings with fried rice. She makes desserts like apple pie, blackberry cobbler, and butterscotch cream pie, all of which show each of the cowboys—one in particular—just how much she cares. And once again, the message is perfectly clear.
So… Are you hungry yet?
About Cheryl Brooks
Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse turned romance writer. Her Cat Star Chronicles series includes Slave, Warrior, Rogue, Outcast, Fugitive, Hero, Virgin, Stud, Wildcat, and Rebel. She is a member of RWA and IRWA and lives with her husband and sons near Bloomfield, Indiana.
About MUST LOVE COWBOYS
When you find yourself in Cowboy Heaven, things can get hot as hell…
From established author Cheryl Brooks comes the second in a steamy contemporary romance series set at a Wyoming ranch chock full of sexy-as-sin cowboys.
SO MANY COWBOYS…
Shy computer specialist, dog lover, and amateur chef Tina Hayes has a thing for firefighters, but when she travels to the Circle Bar K ranch on family business, the ranch’s cowboys have no trouble persuading her to stay on as their cook. Especially not when she learns that brooding Wyatt McCabe-a man who makes her heart gallop like no one else can-is also a former firefighter.
HOW DOES SHE KNOW HE’S THE ONE?
Wyatt’s sizzling embraces leave Tina breathless. But being surrounded by a passel of smokin’ hot ranch hands can be complicated. With so many cowboys courting Tina all at once, Wyatt must prove to Tina that she belongs with him.