Making a meal of things.

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Don’t forget to click the purple button to see what everyone else has to say on this week’s subject. It’s at the end of my post.

What does the food your characters eat reveal about their personality?

I can see that, unless I’m careful, Andorra Pett is going to get mentioned a lot here. I could write the whole post about her eating habits, she’s never met a calorie she didn’t like. Food, for many reasons, features large in Andorra’s life. She’s always ready for coffee and cake, a lot of her best work has been fuelled that way. With her partner Derek, who runs the farm on the space station, she’s invented a way of farming Lobsters in space, which provides a running thread through most of her adventures.

Dragging the emphasis away from Andorra, I think that food is one of those things that doesn’t get enough attention, either in world-building or as a driver of the plot. As it’s a basic part of life, it can be used in all sorts of ways to enhance and move a story.

You can learn a lot about a place by the way the locals eat.

For example, even though all the inhabitants of Reevis, in my novel Ribbonworld live on an airless planet under a dome, there is still room for a farm, producing high-quality meat, vegetables, fish and fruit. It produces everything that you need to live well, thanks to its unique ability to control climate and growing conditions. Naturally, you can import luxuries but they are expensive and frowned upon by the locals, who extol the virtues of “Dome Made” produce. This comparison is used throughout the plot, to show the difference between locals and off-worlders.

Then there is the planet Fallop. A dystopian world, featured in my novel The Hitman and the Thief. It’s a place ruled by an unseen and omnipotent dictator, where all the dirty jobs that scar other planets environments are undertaken. The population lives in fear and ignorance, the food here is heavily processed and tasteless. Unless you are one of the elite, where it’s as good as you would find anywhere else.

In my novel Life and Other Dreams, the colonists on the planet Ecias have to learn to use the food that they find on their new home to supplement their supplies. Naturally, they must be careful not to cross-contaminate the local flora and fauna with the things they’ve bought from Earth. Fortunately, the monthly supply ship brings them beer and other essentials, at least until they can produce their own.

Finally, there’s the plight of the survivors, stranded on an unnamed planet in my novel Survive. With no clue where they are or how long (if ever) it will be till they are rescued, they must learn which of the plants that abound on their new home they can safely consume.

Food does more than sustain you, it can define you, and your situation, in ways you might not realise.

Until next time.

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8 Responses

    • Richard Dee

      While it doesn’t need to define a character, it can add to the impression they create.

  1. P.J. MacLayne

    Your mention of not contaminating local flora and fauna reminds me of the lawsuits a seed company placed against farmers who saved seeds from their crops, because those seeds might have benefitted from crops grown in adjoining fields.

    • Richard Dee

      In my worlds of the future, man has woken up and is much more environmentally aware. I have an idea for a novel exploring how mankind’s hubris almost caused its undoing, more about that later.

    • Richard Dee

      I agree, it’s such a natural part of life and socialising. I cannot see how it would not be a useful plot mover.

  2. Daryl Devore

    LOL – the monthly supply ship brings beer and other essentials – I love it that beer is the first essential.

    • Richard Dee

      If the colonists don’t get their beer, there might be trouble.

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