Food and drink on WIP Wednesday

Silver06Here in New Zealand it is Christmas Eve, and I’m about to make the first of a number of celebratory salads for Christmas dinner. In honour of the role that food plays in our celebrations, I thought I’d post a piece about food. But if your characters manage to get through your work in progress without eating, perhaps you have a drink or even a foodless celebration to share with us.

Here’s mine, from Embracing Prudence. Not a celebration, but certainly food—with an added ingredient in one of the items:

She transferred the contents of the tray to a table beside Miss Diamond’s chair: the pot, a cup, a plate of neatly sliced ham, cheese, pickles, and bread, and a plate of tiny iced cakes. Madame watched and Miss Diamond sat compulsively eating one marzipan shape after another. “That will be all,” Miss Diamond said. “Dupont will serve me.”

Dupont followed Prue across the room and closed the door firmly behind her.

Would there be time to get into the book room while they were occupied? She could at least find out whether she could easily pick the lock with the tools she had been carrying in her apron pocket all afternoon.

She had just taken them from her pocket and bent to examine the lock when a loud scream from below sent her jerking upright then plunging back downstairs.


2 thoughts on “Food and drink on WIP Wednesday

  1. A bit long, but from my favorite deleted scene ever, the original Chapter 20 from Royal Regard:

    When Bella set out to host an “international tea time” to repay the many invitations they had received, she had half-expected to set out food for an empty room, but instead, gossip had spread until the widest possible array had angled for invitations, even given the erstwhile tragedy of her location in merchant-heavy Russell Square. She’d had to open the double drawing rooms and buy benches to line the walls, newly papered in watered silk, and was now surrounded by aristocrats she had no desire to entertain, who had even less desire to know her. The only people missing were Charlotte, gone to Dorset with Alexander to his mother’s deathbed, and Myron, who had inexplicably insisted he had pressing business with the king. Of course, they were the only two who could have bolstered her.

    She couldn’t imagine what had possessed her to think this was a good idea.
    The food was standing, mostly untouched, and the only beverage to be drunk was tea from her Russian savovar—not the Sumatran palm wine, Aztec corn atole, Jamaican ginger beer, or Chinese sour plum suan mei tang. Even Lord Malbourne ate only a small bite of everything on offer, smiling falsely when she asked how he liked it.

    A few gentlemen with time logged on shipboard enjoyed particular foods they had eaten in various locales. Lord Kentsvale was partial to the skewered mutton suya and plantain ricebread from West Africa, and Lord Thalehurst ate two bowls of Creole gumbo. From the reactions of their wives, they might not be served English meals at home for weeks to come.

    Lord Shelderhill, a disreputable trickster and great friend of the King, in need of a wife with a fortune, had a second helping of Cubanacan shredded beef ropa vieja with corn tortillas, and a third serving of the pickled vegetable and rice pasteles from South America, before remarking, “I always thought worm tamales a perfect complement to vegetables cooked in this manner.” Lady Strewton looked at her plate in horror and sat far too abruptly on the duchesse brisée, forcing Bella to make certain the dowager wasn’t actually fainting on the fainting couch.

    Several of the gentlemen sang the praises of the shark hash from Bermuda, even more the Persian baklava, but only two ladies ate two bites of the most cross-cultural dish on the sideboard—New Zealand spinach salad with Mexican pinoles, Asian pears and mangoes, and tropical citrus dressing—no matter she had acquired the greens from Kew Gardens and the fruit from Fleet Market. Lady Oxlynd, who had reluctantly been stationed in India with her husband, remarked that Bella’s curry spice blend was better than any she’d had since.

    Still, more guests were going hungry than eating, the sideboards groaning under the weight of barely touched serving platters and tureens. When a footman reported the state of things to Cook, she immediately sent up plates of sandwiches, pasties, and English biscuits, which were gone in a trice.

    The only person to eat everything, twice, was the Duke of Wellbridge, who had not stopped grazing since he came in the door, and was yet hovering at the buffet. When she heard him telling everyone nearby how wonderful he thought the idea for the party, she felt the heaviness of the guilt roiling around in her stomach at the set-down she had attempted when he came in.

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