Stir my tastebuds, melt my heart

I’m not sure that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but it surely is a tried and tested route into a woman’s. As every discerning reader knows.

My good friend and fabulous RITA and RUBY winning author, Marion Lennox, is blogging for the first time, and musing on food and royals in romantic fiction at www.iheartpresents.com  She says: ‘You know, writing’s wonderful– I can just close my eyes and think what would I most like to eat, and there it is, on the page. So my would-be princess can indulge in French champagne and lobster patties and truffles and caviar and strawberries tasting of the sun….’

So true.  And your readers can indulge right along with her.

I always remember the first Mary Stewart I read, Madam, Will You Talk

Cover for the new edition by Hodder & Stoughton 2005

Cover for the new edition by Hodder & Stoughton 2005

For two days the heroine runs away from a dangerous man who she thinks is a villian. And then, suddenly, he is beside her on the quay in Marseilles and there is nowhere left to run . . .

So what does he do?

He takes her to dinner. (That’s my kind of dangerous man.)

And what a dinner.

I remember still those exquisite fluted silver dishes, each with its load of dainty colours . . . there were anchovies and tiny gleaming silver fish in red sauce, and savoury butter in curled strips of fresh lettuce; there were caviare and tomato and olives green and black, and small golden pink mushrooms and cresses and beans. The waiter heaped my plate, and filled another glass with white wine. I drank half a glassful without a word, and began to eat. I was conscious of Richard Byron’s eyes on me, but he did not speak.
     The waiters hovered beside us, the courses came, delicious and appetizing, and the empty plates vanished as if by magic. I remember red mullet, done somehow with lemons, and a succulent golden-brown fowl bursting with truffles and flanked by tiny peas, then a froth of ice and whipped cream dashed with kirsch, and the fine smooth caress of the wine through it all. Then, finally, apricots and big black grapes, and coffee.

Ah, apricocks and dewberries. They never fail.

But truly, isn’t that the most luscious, sensual scene? Aren’t you there, mouth watering? Haven’t you already decided that the provider of this voluptuous feast has to be the hero?

How much more powerful must it have been in 1955, when the book was first published. Many foods were still rationed in Britain.  It was only ten years since the end of the War, with its austerity and British Restaurants. For the 1950s English woman, this idyllic meal  (to say nothing of the plates that disappear as if by magic) must have felt as good as going to Cinderella’s ball herself.

And it still does the business today – for me and, I bet, for thousands of others. Which is why Hodder printed a new edition fifty years after that first publication.   

Scrummy

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