November 9th, 2015
Food and murder. Is there a connection?
Reading many cozy mysteries you would think so, since they often feature food along with a homicide or two. They do seem to go well together. Some say it’s the idea of danger embodied by the gleam of a butcher knife or the smell of gun powder, placed alongside the comfort and pleasure of eating.
Food is a perfect fit with a crime story. Readers are lulled into a happy place with the vision of a dish of mashed potatoes awash in gravy, or a fruit pie bursting with sweet blueberries. Then the ax falls or the gun fires and those readers get pulled into that menacing world of murder. Just when reading causes their heartbeats to speed up until it seems their chests will burst, the author writes about another palate-pleasing dish capable of calming the tensest of all readers. Food also lifts the spirits, banishing at least for the moment, the heavy shroud of fear and dread inherent in the hunt for a murderer.
At times, though, food is more than just comfort. It can stir the pulse as well. After all, do we only eat for nourishment? If eating is just a way to stay alive, why are desserts so popular?
Why do we ingest foods that, by their very sumptuousness, go against a society that demands we all be thin? Eating for reasons other than survival is giving in to desire. Going for the thrill of the moment. Having one’s own way despite what other say or think. Food in cozy mysteries allows the reader vicarious thrills, not unlike the thrill received when chasing the story’s bad guy, only safer.
It’s a lot less scary or life-threatening though, to give into a slice of four-layer red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, than to know a killer may be right around the corner, gunning for you.
So, what’s your pleasure? Intense dark chocolate exciting your taste buds, or milk chocolate that dances on your tongue. What about whipped cream atop pecan pie? Or lasagna with its layers of seasoned meat, creamy ricotta and chewy mozzarella all awash in tomato sauce redolent with oregano and basil.
Go ahead. Pick up a cozy mystery and notice your reaction when a luscious dish is mentioned. Food and cozy mysteries go together, like a burger and fries.
Speaking of cozy mysteries and food, The Terrified Detective, my cozy mystery series will soon be available on Amazon.com and B& N.com.