Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Edesia, My Secret Muse... and win a free ebook!

You don't know who she is, right?

Thought not. She's pretty obscure.
Edesia is the Roman goddess of feasting and good food.  Food has often been an inspiration for my books, or a key ingredient in them. In almost all of my romance novels, there'll be a picnic or the hero and heroine cooking together in a warm, bright kitchen, or a really special meal out.  Food can be so sensual, and so evocative. Think about your favorite childhood foods. To this day, the smell of fresh mandarin oranges takes me instantly back to my cousins' house, where they had trees groaning with citrus fruit, and where I spent countless happy hours.  Are there certain food smells that take you back that way?  Certain recipes you turn to for comfort, because you loved them as a child?

I use food research as an inspiration, especially when I'm setting a story in another part of the world. Sister Swap which was publishing in Silhouette Romance several years ago and is set in Tuscany, gave me a great excuse to buy a new Italian cookbook, one that was filled with lush photos and descriptions of the Italian countryside. My women's fiction novel Cafe du Jour uses coffee as a theme reflecting the narrator's feelings all through the book.

Finding the right foods to inspire and enrich the story in Saving Gerda was a challenge. Saving Gerda  has a historical setting and tells the story of the growing connection between two families just before Europe caught fire in 1939. Count Christian Von Kolhausen, his wife Kitty and daughter Gerda are enormously privileged, and can still afford lavish meals at a time when many ordinary people were struggling. French cookbooks gave me the inspiration for the way they ate. At the opposite end of the social and cultural spectrum, the Davidsohn family is struggling. They're Jewish, and this is Berlin in 1938.  I was lucky enough to find a fascinating memoir of this period called Memoirs of a 1000-Year-Old Woman by Gisela McBride, which offers rich detail on the creative ways people scraped together a meal from cabbage and bread. It gave such a great insight into the constant struggle to feed a family, to make basic and repetitive ingredients appealing, and just to put anything on the table at all.

I could feel Sophie Davidsohn's daily desperation, in which household tasks that we take for granted become huge problems. My family wasn't all that happy on the nights we decided to eat as if all we had was cabbage and dried fish...

So how about you? Whether you're a writer or a reader, which tastes and smells and flavors most evoke a strong mood for you?

Commenters will go in the draw for a free ebook copy of Saving Gerda. I'd love to hear from you!

Lilian Darcy


girlygirlhoosier52 said...

As a reader from the midwest, odors of grilling bring back fond memories of camping and cooking outside..

Pat Cochran said...

There are many cooking odors that bring
back childhood days. Mother was an es-
pecially great cook and I remember her
chicken and spaghetti dish that smelled
so wonderful as it cooked. We are Hispanic
and her enchiladas filled the house with
deliciously spicy odors. It's no wonder
we always had people dropping in around

Pat C.

erin said...

thanks for a fun post and congrats on the new release! I'd have to agree w/ girlygirlhoosier and say the grilling smells always puts a smile on my face and makes me hungry :)

chey said...

The smells of Christmas baking.

lag123 said...

Christmas baking for sure!

lag110 at mchsi dot com

emaginette said...

My son and I used to have feasts to celebrate. We didn't need much of an excuse--rainy, sunny, great day or bad. :-)