Literary Food Moments in Young Adult Books
Don’t even think about packing that suitcase. Cancel that hotel reservation, tear up that boarding pass, and put away your passport. Who needs to pay for airfare, luggage, and hospitality? Not you. You have a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. With a simple book, you will find your world opening up before your very eyes, allowing you to travel beyond your homelands. Before you start arguing that reading isn’t exactly like traveling, let us assure you that you can find the best of foreign cultures within the pages of a good book. Yes, you can’t exactly jet off to Paris and nibble on a croissant at a French bistro. However, that doesn’t mean you can't enjoy the culinary dishes of faraway lands. In fact, authors often incorporate dishes and dietary habits while establishing setting, plot, and developing characters in their books.
As we flip through the pages of Twilight, The Hardy Boys, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, we tag along while the characters explore their surroundings and embark on extraordinary adventures. While we read, the words on the pages transform and become a portrait of some faraway planet, some parallel universe, or some alternate life in our mind. Authors utilize various literary techniques to accomplish this — imagery, characterization, metaphors, for example. Often, food serves as an inspiration, a plot device, and a method of revealing character.
Sometimes the food scenes are subtle, in the way that our oatmeal breakfast slips into the back of our minds by the times our stomachs growl for lunch. Other times the food moments are far more memorable, as they provide a reason for people to gather and further the plot. While the instances when food is present in books range in importance, their function remains a vital part of literary techniques. Food plays a major role in all of our day-to-day lives, why wouldn’t the characters of a novel need the same sustenance? Even if a character is a wizard who must defend the entire wizarding world from dark and evil forces. Even if a character is a gawky high school student who discovers she is in line to the Genovian throne. Even if a character must fight for his survival in a post-apocalyptic world. All of these characters must sustain themselves in some ways, and their choices in cuisine hint at their personalities, environment, and circumstances in life.
Did we miss any of your favorite food moments? Let us know in the comments!