Kimberly Kincaid is my critique partner and I have to admit that prior to beginning our journey together, I was clueless about foodie romance. yeah, my characters eat – but food and the love of food was never an integral part of the plot. But, Kimberly’s work opened my eyes to just how lyrical and sexy the description and integration of food can be. So, even though I constantly joke with her about health code violations on the kitchen of the intimate kind . . . I’m a convert!
Putting the Heat in the Kitchen and on the Page: The Scoop on Foodie Romance
Some authors have an undying love for crime dramas, and it translates to plot-based, hair-raising romantic suspense novels. Yet others love a blast from the past, immersing themselves in history to pen finely-detailed novels from bygone eras.
Me? I’m passionate about eating. I write foodie romance.
The word “foodie” has come under a lot of fire lately, marking it as pretentious or snobby. But for me, food is love, plain and simple. Having been raised in an Italian-German house (and then married into another one later in life), I live by that mantra. I learned early on how meals aren’t just a dine-and-dash event. They’re evocative, they’re meant to nourish, and come on—they can be totally mouthwatering. Making the translation to romance is pretty easy, if you think about it.
So how can you take your kitchen (or food) scenes and give them the heat of the bedroom? Usually, I start with my character(s). What does s/he like? What suits her personality? Is she a fun-loving tomboy type? Is she a meticulous, by-the-book doctor? This will affect what she chooses to eat (and where!) in a lot of ways, all of which go far in characterizing her without telling. Food doesn’t have to be (forgive the pun) cookie-cutter with regard to a character’s personality. You can show a character’s quirks by breaking outside of what’s expected. But if you want to set the stage with characterization, food is a great place to start.
Once that’s established, I think about all five senses. It helps very much to research your food/dishes first-hand and actually eat as you go. Note how your food looks (we eat with our eyes first—true story!). How might your heroine see it? What are the colors and textures? Comparisons you can make? Then weave in sounds, smells, feel. By the time you get to how it actually tastes, you’ve already got an amazing sensory base. Taste just knocks it home, and it’s a great way to get that deep point of view into a scene. Be the heroine tasting that cheesecake after a breakup. Be the hero taking that first sip of cold water after working all day on a ranch in the blazing sun. Let your readers in!
Since we’ve got the vibe going, taking things from sensory to sexy isn’t a huge leap, and it’s one you’re already primed for. You do not have to rely on the same-old standbys to make food sexy. Yes, chocolate covered-strawberries can be sexy, and more yes, they’re delicious and provocative in their own right. But think outside the box to what will turn each specific character on. In my novella, Love On The Line, the hero makes boxed spaghetti and sauce from a jar for the heroine for their dinner date. Despite the fact that she is a chef with lots of training, she finds this incredibly sexy because the hero knows food is the way to her heart, and in his own way, he’s trying to get there. Would we normally think of spaghetti as sexy? Maybe not. But that scene ends in the bedroom, and it all started with that dinner.
All in all, food and cooking can add a level of richness to our writing that might surprise us. You don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to do it, or write about chefs, either. All characters eat, as do all authors. Take what you love and transplant it into your scenes. It just might amp up your heat…in the kitchen and on the page!
Do you read or write foodie romance? How do you incorporate food into your books?
Alex Kidwell returns to talk about what it’s like to write a book solo instead of part of a co-writing team.
Kimberly is giving away an e-copy of her novella, Love on the Line, to a lucky commenter!
Violet Morgan puts the personal in personal chef, catering to clients who want the full cooking experience rather than a culinary drop-and-dash. But when her brother’s police detective partner is injured in the line of duty and needs help during recovery, she makes an exception. Violet lost her father to the job seven years ago, and worries for her brother’s safety every day. The last thing she wants is to get up-close with her brother’s career-cop partner…again.
For Noah Blackwell, being a detective isn’t just a lifestyle, it’s a legacy. So when he’s forced to take mandatory leave and deal with the trauma amnesia keeping him from identifying his shooter, it’s a literal case of adding insult to injury— and now he’s got to deal with an unwanted culinary caregiver on top of it. Never mind that he and Violet shared a steamy, secret kiss last New Year’s Eve. She rejects everything related to the job, and Noah’s not about to be distracted from recovering his memory and getting back to what he does best. No matter how pretty Violet is.
Despite their differences, Violet and Noah share a surprising bond in the kitchen that grows into something neither of them expect. But as Noah heals and their feelings for each other extend from the kitchen to the bedroom, Violet knows she must make an impossible choice. She may wear her heart on her sleeve when it comes to food, but can she risk it all to put love on the line?
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She is thrilled to have collaborated on a Christmas anthology with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angell, titled The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, to kick off her Pine Mountain foodie series with Kensington this October. Her first full-length novel, Turn Up the Heat, will follow in February 2014. Kimberly resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters. Visit her any time at www.kimberlykincaid.com or come check her out on Facebook and Twitter.
- A conversation with Foodie Romance Author, Kimberly Kincaid
- Weekly Lecture Schedule: March 11 – March 15, 2013
- Discussing Foodie Romance with Kimberly Kincaid
- Weekly Lecture Schedule, December 3-7, 2012
- Special Event – Pitch to Heather Howland, Managing Editor, Entangled Publishing