Monday, August 6, 2012

Writing About Celtic Food

Cock-a-leekie soup. Used with permission.
Those of you who are fans of the George R. R. Martin series, A Song of Ice and Fire, which begins with Game of Thrones, will appreciate the Celtic influences in his books (especially in certain areas of his made-up lands). One can't help but see medieval England and Hadrian's Wall, for instance, in the whole concept of "The Wall" and the northern lands. 

But nowhere brings out the connection with more persistence than the cuisine. Don't get me wrong, these fantasy books are not foodie romance (or even food novels of any kind). But when I had a chance to get an early copy of A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook (which, by the way, is officially sanctioned by Martin himself) for review, I found myself musing about the similarities between the cuisine of Westeros and the foods of Celtic lands. Something like Cock-a-leekie soup, for instance, which every good Celt should know of, has its Fire and Ice counterpart. 

This series of books has always felt more Celtic to me because of things like this. Little details that give me a very sensory experience and feel, that make me think Celtic thoughts.

Haggis plate w/neeps & tatties. Used with permission.
While I don't want to give too much away, although if you're a fan, I highly suggest picking up a copy for yourself, I do want to say that this cookbook is fantastic. If you're a fan of the books, you'll love the in-text references and quotes from chapters. If you're a fan of cooking, the historical feel of these recipes will enthrall you. And if you're just a fan of Celtic food, many of the recipes will feel familiar.

But food is an excellent way to make a book feel authentic and real to its audience. Not just the inclusion of food in a book, but how you go about including that food.

Anyone, for instance, can write a scene where the hero and heroine eat haggis (probably the most culturally recognizable Scottish food). However, if you've never had haggis before or you're not immersing the reader in the experience, you might as well not write the experience at all. But many of us want to create engaging and exciting scenes for our readers using food. How do we do that?

Scotch Whisky. Used with permission.
How do we write effectively about Celtic Food? 

I'm going to tell you, for certain, that I can't explain in one blog how to do that, nor do I intend to try. But I wanted to let you know that I do teach a class on this very topic. And I'm going to be teaching it this fall, for Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. Specifically on how to incorporate Celtic food and details into your writing. It will be right before the holidays, so we'll have to do some experimenting.

Maybe I'll give you my recipe for Scotch-Caramel Creme Brulee. It's heavenly. And if you enjoy whisky, you'll love it. Even if you don't, you'll probably love it. But you'll have to take the class to find out. Watch this blog next month to learn how to sign up. Or, watch my blog. 

Either way, I hope to see you in the class! Come write about Celtic Food with me.


Autumn Shelley said...

Love it! I've actually made cock-a-leekie soup! Good to see you!

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Sounds like fun, Camryn. Hope to join the class. :)