Fillet of a Fenny Snake,
In the Cauldron boyle and bake:
Eye of Newt, and Toe of Frogge,
Wooll of Bat, and Tongue of Dogge:
Adders Forke, and Blinde-wormes Sting,
Lizards legge, and Howlets wing:
For a Charme of powrefull trouble,
Like a Hell-broth, boyle and bubble.
~ Wm. Shakespeare. Macbeth, Act. IV, Scene I
Sound tasty? Well, it’s not likely to make it to the menu of your favorite fast food franchise any time soon, but it may have helped to make Macbeth a hit.
According to The Better Novel Project, the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games series are best-sellers in part because they include references to food. In the genres to which those books belong, food is thought to be symbolic of important aspects of the story: maturity, desperation, abundance, danger, sacrifice, magic, humanity, survival and friendship.
Irish Firebrands crosses a half-dozen genre lines, but it was written within the general framework of a contemporary romance. A such, its primary focus is the development of a “Happily Ever After” or “Happy For Now” relationship. There are several secondary relationships, too, so of all the functions listed above, friendship is likely to be the fundamental category of food symbolism in Irish Firebrands. We should then expect to see the important characters bonding over the breakfast table.
And boy, do they ever. It’s no wonder that two of them express concerns about love handles and middle-age spread – there are at least 591 references to food, cooking or eating. There are 41 food references in Chapter 6, alone. Even after weeding out the duplicates and plurals in each chapter, there are at least 333 unique references to food and/or what happens to it as it moves from farm to fork. There are even a few easy recipes within the text.
What’s more, this feast takes place throughout the book – of 34 chapters, in only two of them do characters fail to break bread: Chapter 28, which immediately follows an episode of major conflict, and the only two references to food are metaphorical; and Chapter 32, which is part of the “Black Moment” experience for the main characters, when there’s no reference at all to food.
According to the food-in-fiction hypothesis, at the rate that folks in Irish Firebrands are giving their taste buds a workout, the book ought to become a best-seller, so why not try a taste? There are samples available on this blog, and at retailers listed on the Shop page.
There’s no cause to be alarmed for your own waistline: all that novel-noshing takes place in only about 0.295 percent of an approximately 200,000-word book. And if you buy it in paperback, it weighs about 1 ¾ lb, so just think of all the lean muscle mass you’ll develop, every time you heft your copy.