The many reasons people avoid certain foods...
Welcome back to Elle's Kitchen.
In my last newsletter, "Elle's Kitchen Newsletter #8" , I spoke on allergies and whether or not these should be considered when you're writing about food. I certainly struck a chord with some of you! I only spoke of the most common allergies, but my readers pointed out some that I would never have considered.
Next time you want to introduce a bit of drama to a story, considering using an allergy - here are some examples of ones you might not have thought of, and how they might create interest and action in a story.
Lyn - We recently went to Niagara Falls, Canada. We were at The Keg, a steak and seafood house. I have a severe iodine allergy so I make sure the kitchen is aware of my allergy and do not cross contaminate my dishes with cooking utensils. The waitress brought our margaritas and assured us that the kitchen knew. Fine, we were talking and suddenly a man from the bar yelled don't touch your glass. Come to find out the man was the bar manager and did not want me to drink from my glass. Apparently, they add iodine to their rinse water in the dish washer cycle. Something I would not have considered as a source to worry about. They were awesome, hand washed all of my dishes ,silver ware and glasses. Plus which I found exceptional was the cook came out and gave me a card with his name on it in case I had any issues, he definitely could clarify any meal prep issues.
Lornda - I'm allergic to sugar substitutes like: aspartame, Splenda, and saccharin. The food industry uses many other terms to add these substitutes which makes it hard for me to pin-point at times if they're in there or what! I'm so allergic to this stuff that I almost died two years ago. Yikes! Turns out the polishing paste they use at the dentist had saccharin in it, and because it was in the mouth area, I reacted bad to it--so bad that several hours later, I couldn't breathe and my throat was closing up. I now have to carry an Epi-pen wherever I go.
If you're like me, you would never think about a food allergy causing problems at the dentist, or with the rinse wash cycle of a dishwasher! Both of these allergies were potentially life-threatening. And while we are ever so grateful that Lyn and Lornda are still with us today, a fictional character might not be so lucky. Or would they be saved by the hero? How easy would it be for your antagonist to exploit this weakness in your character? How would he know about it? Lots to think about, and lots of potential for drama!!
There are other reasons why people might avoid certain foods or groups of foods, other than allergies. The first one I always think of is vegetarians, who don't eat meat. Often this is for reasons of conscience, but check out our featured writing this edition for the story of one WDC member who gave up meat for a different reason.
Religion is another reason why people might not eat certain foods. Bearing in mind that I'm no expert on any of these, these are some examples of religious food restrictions:
Bahá’í - no alcohol
Hinduism - no beef
Islam - no alcohol, pork or pork products, birds of prey or carnivorous animals.
Jainism - no meat, fish, eggs, butter, honey, alcohol or figs.
Judaism - no pork or pork products, shellfish or birds of prey.
Mormonism - no coffee, tea or alcohol.
Rastafarianism - no red meat, fish over 12", chemically modified food or that which contains artificial additives.
Seventh Day Adventism - no alcohol.
Now you can be sure that if I've made a mistake in that list above, I'll hear about it! Research is vital if you're going to use a pre-existing religion and its restrictions. Of course, a fictional one gives you leave to make up your own rules.
For many, the way the food is prepared, and how or when it is consumed also plays a significant role. A person may be able to eat meat, but only if it's kosher or halal. And some foods can't be eaten at the same meal or on the same day. There may be certain days where certain foods (or all foods) are restricted. It is very important to consider these things if you have a religious character in your writing - if you get important aspects of a simple meal incorrect, your reader won't be inclined to keep reading. Be consistent. If they are religious, do your research and make sure you have your character approach their food and meals in a way that is consistent with their faith.
One can of course avoid foods purely because of a dislike of the taste or texture. I'm like that. A fussy eater! I have a long list of foods I dislike simply because of taste. And no, brussel sprouts aren't on that list!
What about someone who has overindulged in a food before, and now won't touch it? That could be a point of interest for a character. Alcohols are often the culprit here. I know Dodgy Steve can't even bear the smell of tequila anymore!
What foods might your character dislike or avoid, and what can that tell us about your character?
aaysoy says these vegetarian recipes are lip smacking, so I had to include them!
WE Bluestocking uses a vegetarian character to add great drama to this story.
Mia - in Autumn Rains tells her story of why and how she became a vegetarian...
Last week we had a lactose-intolerant mouse, so this week, allow me to introduce you to some vegetarian characters...
evadeva wants to know if you eat meat or not...
There are plenty more items out there on vegetarianism, and other food exclusions, including articles, persuasive essays, stories and poems. I can't highlight them all, but if you're interested, they are certainly out there.
That's all for this week! I hope you've enjoyed this edition. Don't forget, if you have a question for Steve, an item for inclusion in a future newsletter, a topic for me to investigate and discuss, or if you'd like to be a guest editor for an edition, please let me know here: "Elle's Kitchen Newsletter Suggestions" .
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