1. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Recipes in fiction - cool or corny?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by peachalulu, Nov 3, 2012.

    I was reading something the other day and the writer described the
    drink - full recipe. Part of me felt it really wasn't needed as I the reader
    could've imagined anything going under it's title. But I also kind of
    liked the description and wondered if any one ever ran out
    and mixed themselves up a drink - mid chapter - lol!

    What do you think is this cool or corny? - has anyone ever
    made up a recipe in a book of fiction - I did once as a child - a chip dip recipe.

    I was thinking of including not really a recipe but a list of ingredients for
    an energy bar in a futuristic story - but I'm also debating just leaving it
    to the readers imagination.
     
  2. muscle979
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    muscle979 Member

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    It doesn't sound that appealing to me unless knowing the ingredients is important to the story in some way.
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's fine for YA or chick lits, as a lot of them are just a bit of mindless fun, esp the chick lits and romances. I haven't seen recipes before but I've seen diary entries and email entries and text entries - they usually bore me to tears. I've also seen a holiday itinerary. I find it off-putting because frankly, I don't care.

    But if you've got some cool ingredients in there, or perhaps it's a recipe for a flying cake, then yes it might be worth putting in.

    But your very own version of double choc fudge cake is probably not worth it.

    Edit: I do remember a series of manga about cooking and at the end of the book, there was a list of all the recipes the MC used during the story. That I thought was awesome. But it's at the end of the book, which I think makes a difference. And I was young back then (only 25 now but I mean I was MUCH younger then lol)
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've read several pieces of fiction (and at least one piece of non-fiction/travel memoir) that included genuine recipes (usually at the end, after having mentioned the dish in the story, although occasionally they were within the story or at the beginning or end of a chapter). I thought they were fine, and kind of cute and had occasionally thought of actually making the recipe, although I never did. I have known people, especially in book clubs, to actually go ahead and make the recipe. So, I think it's a fine inclusion, especially if the particular food or drink has a significance in the story.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    As someone who cooks as a hobby, I am often tempted to do this. I resist, because the full recipe for anything is too much information for the reader. OTOH, food and how we prepare it is often a way to explain who we are. In my current project, food and certain styles of cooking come into the story on several occasions. I see it as a way to reach the reader's emotions on another level. I have no idea if a publisher will agree with me. If so, you'll be reading about what a genius I am. If not, you won't read anything about me at all. :)
     
  6. Knarfia
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    Knarfia Member

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    Kurt Vonnegut (I know, I mention him A LOT) did this in Deadeye Dick and it worked out well, because the main character, who was also the narrator, was so interested in cooking. It seemed only natural that his thoughts would occasionally drift to recipes.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta often describes her kitche activities. Her character loves to cook Italian (as does the author), and that passion adds dimension to the character. It's also a vicarious experience for the reader.

    Culinary experiences are a widespread staple of the mystery genre. Whether it's (Sue Grafton's) Kinsey Millhone's Quarter Pounders with Cheese of (Robert B. Parker's) Spencer's gourmet creations, it brings the reader closer to the story (sensory involvement) and is a tool to help to define the characters.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's especially a good idea when writing fantasy. You can really manipulate a reader's reactions with fantasy ingredients. Shakespeare did it:

    "Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
    Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
    Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
    Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
    For a charm of powerful trouble,
    Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."
     
  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Does anyone know the recipe for a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster? Cause that'd be a good one to know.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  10. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    As others have suggested, there are several situations where recipes may work. The most important, I think, is when cooking is somehow integral to a character, or when the food can be used to represent the character in some way. If they like to cook or are a cook, perhaps, for instance, writing about how they try to be a perfectionist and make the perfect dish might show, say, their diligent or perfectionist side. Or maybe they're just cooking normally, but perhaps you want to use the food to represent their current feelings - maybe their chopping and cutting a bit loud because they're angry, or they mindlessly over-wash the vegetables because they're too busy daydreaming about their crush.

    Minstrel's suggestion is something I like too - describing recipes can really help set the mood and provide information and context not just for fantasy, but also science fiction, speculative fiction in general, even historical fiction or fiction that takes place in an area the reader is not accustomed to (it doesn't have to be somewhere exotic in Africa or Asia - it could be, for instance, a poor Latin American neighborhood, or a Chinatown).
     
  11. Spiderman
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    Spiderman Member

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    It could go either way. Recipes in fiction can be very cool.
     
  12. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    I second that!
     
  13. Fatback
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    Fatback Banned

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    Typically I would say a recipe in a fiction would register as a slight annoyance. Such a thing comes across as shameless filler. That being said I love the idea of a recipe being laid out in a futuristic setting as this adds a layer of depth instead of detracting from the actual story.
     
  14. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    So, in other words, you don't like the idea except in those cases in which you do?
     
  15. Nick Kilcoyne
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    Nick Kilcoyne Member

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    I remember reading a book in which the characters dared each other to eat worms. In order to make them easier to eat, they came up with creative recipes that included worms. This worked very well in the book. I wish I could remember what it was called. It was "15 worms for 15 dollars" or something like that.

    I guess it just depends on the context.
     

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