Eating on WIP Wednesday

toasting-fork-e1427826270973All my readers must realise I like food; I write so much of it. Breakfasts, picnics, formal dinners, snacks… my characters stop to refuel at regular intervals. Indeed, Lord Jonathan Grenford (Gren), the younger brother of the Marquis of Aldridge and a secondary character in Prudence in Love, spends much of the book consuming vast quantities of sustenance. But he is a young and active man, and they do manage to get through a lot of food!

So this week, I’m inviting excerpts that include food. Post yours in the comments; I’d love to see it. Here’s mine, from A Raging Madness.

Susan sent the nursemaid to let the kitchen know that three of the household’s adults would be taking nursery breakfast. Soon, Alex and Ella were sitting on the hearth rug, each with a toasting fork and an apprentice. Michael, his hands tucked inside Alex’s, sat between Alex’s knees, holding the toast carefully near the flame, and Anna curled next to Ella holding the fork by herself, with gently coaching. “Slightly further back, Anna. No, not quite so far. We want it to brown, but not burn, and we want to avoid smoke.”

Curved protectively over the child, her eyes and voice soft, she took his breath away. What a mother she would have made—could still make. She would be nearly thirty now, and still fertile, he imagined. Not that it mattered. He wanted her whether they could make children together or not. If only he could persuade her to want him.

In all their weeks of talking, she had not spoken of her marriage or of the child she had lost. Or children? Alex had refrained from prying, sure that the memories pained her, but now he wished to know all her secrets.

“Burning, Unca Alex,” Michael warned. Sure enough, while his attention had been on Ella the toast had wavered too near the flame and was well alight on one corner.

“And that, Michael,” Alex explained, “is what happens if you go too near the flame.”

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6 thoughts on “Eating on WIP Wednesday

  1. And, continuing with the food theme, here is my Gren.

    “No sign of Lord Jonathan this morning, Mrs Allen?” David was asking, just as the front door knocker sounded, heralding the arrival of that gentleman.

    He breezed into the room.

    “Good morning, you two. Sorry I’m late. Mrs Allen, my best beloved, are those mushrooms?” He lifted the lid of the dish she was carrying then leaned over it to give her a smacking kiss on the cheek. “They are mushrooms! And I smell sausages, and bacon… ah, Mrs Allen, if I could fit you in my apartment I would steal you away.”

    “Get along with you, sir, do,” the housekeeper told him, but she was grinning broadly.

    “Leave my poor housekeeper alone and take a seat, you incorrigible infant,” David growled. “To what do we owe the pleasure? The parlous state of your own larder?”

    “That’s about it, really,” Gren admitted, cheerfully. My man doesn’t cook, and I can just about manage to toast cheese, but certainly not a feast such as this.” He was loading the plate Mrs Allen brought him with a huge quantity of food.

    “I shall make you some more toast, my lord,” the housekeeper said, then shot David a quick glance. “If that is acceptable, Mr Wakefield.”

    “By all means let us defend Lord Jonathan from starvation for an hour or so,” David told her.

  2. OK, here’s a scene from “The Long Shadow”. John has accompanied his brother to a dinner in William’s honour held by Thomas Townshend. Townshend, btw, is Mary’s father, and this is Mary’s very first appearance in the book.

    ____

    Townshend kept an excellent table: game from his Frognal estate coupled with tender lamb and a magnificent pie. The party had hardly sat down before Townshend turned to his guests. ‘I am delighted to see both of you here tonight, perhaps my last opportunity to see you together before Lord Chatham departs for his regiment.’ He nodded at John, then turned eagerly to William. ‘As for you, my young orator, I cannot tell you how pleased I was with your speech. You were every inch the man your boyhood promised you would be.’

    John guessed he would be no longer required in this conversation. He drained his glass and began ladling some sauce onto his meat. Across the table William laid down his knife, the blush that had hardly left his face in the past two days creeping once more across his cheeks. ‘I am glad my speech found favour with you.’

    ‘I know of no one with whom it did not find favour,’ Townshend said. ‘Parliament has been waiting since your father died for a successor worthy of his memory. Here you are at last, his own son, no less.’

    John fumbled the ladle and a splash of sauce landed on the table. He mopped at it with his handkerchief. Miss Mary handed him hers without a word.

    ‘I told Mrs Townshend only this morning how I remembered your father taking you to the stables at Hayes, setting you on a coach block and making you address the horses in their stalls as though they were Members of Parliament. What did you think, Chatham?’ John froze, his fork halfway to his mouth. ‘I saw you there behind the Bar. Was it not the most perfect maiden speech you have ever heard?’

    John considered the question. ‘If I am to be perfectly frank, it is so far the only maiden speech I have ever heard.’

    ‘It could not be bettered! How many young men would throw themselves into the midst of a heated debate in getting on their legs for the first time? It was splendid, Pitt, splendid!’ Townshend stood up. He refilled his glass and raised it at William. ‘Had your father been here he could not have been prouder. As it is, I tell no untruth by saying he is back at Westminster at last. To your health, sir, and Lord Chatham’s return!’

    John raised his glass with the rest but wished Townshend had chosen different words. He did not begrudge Townshend’s comparing William to their father, but given the current Lord Chatham was actually leaving, not returning, John found Townshend’s toast awkward.

    Townshend had clearly not read John’s mood accurately. He refilled John’s glass and said, ‘Would you name the next health, Chatham?’

    John blinked into his glass. His mind raced. He knew Townshend was only doing his duty in naming him as the highest ranking person at table, but he knew very well everybody would expect him to drink to his brother. Tonight was William’s night; to judge from William’s performance, every night henceforth would be his night. John supposed he was just going to have to get used to it.

    He rose, forced a smile and said, ‘To the orator.’ A slight pause; he felt something else was needed. ‘Our father would be proud.’

    William beamed, and John immediately felt better for having made the effort. The others at the table echoed the toast. All looked at William save for Miss Mary, who stared at John over the rim of her glass of wine and water.

  3. Both of these are great. 🙂 Jude, I love the way toast becomes a metaphor for something else. And the tension in Doreen’s scene is palpable.

    Just getting some stuff together then I’ll join in…

  4. The dinner party is discussing the problem of discharged soldiers roaming the countryside.

    “Fool, she told herself, what are you doing? You don’t even care about the men. Very likely they were looking for things to steal, and not for work at all. Everyone she knew seemed to be in agreement with the Squire and her cousin Emery, who was she to disagree? After all, her poor female brain wasn’t up to that sort of mental exercise, the Squire had made that clear. But she seemed to have lost control of her tongue. “So what will become of them?”
    “Demmed if I know, pardon my language. Not my problem.” And he helped himself to yet another plateful of the beef.
    “Will nobody care for them, or will they simply move them on yet again? Is there no Christian in this country any more?” There was a moment of silence, and then the conversation started up again as if nobody had spoken.
    “And the funny thing about it was that the Frenchy had come out without any boots on,” the Major said from her left.
    “Some turnip, dear lady?” said the rector on her right.”

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