Saturday, December 11, 2010

Musings on New World Food

Here is something that makes me glad I didn't get a book published at 22, cuz this is exactly the sort of error I would have made: Inserting food like potatoes or tomatoes into a story set way before these products made it out of the Americas. Or inserting coffee or spices a few centuries before they were known.

Seriously. It is hard to write a scene of someone waking up during...I dunno, the 12th Century mini-Rennaisance, and not pouring themselves a steaming cup of Joe to get moving. How did people get up before coffee? More to the point, what did folks drink on a 12th century morning?

I keep thinking about that internet anecdote I read years ago, about a New Agey author who wrote a book on ancient Irish Druids. She based her text not on research, but on intuitive or channeled knowledge, and stated that the potato was quite sacred to them. When it was pointed out to her that potatoes were not introduced into Ireland until the 17th century, she wondered why everyone was being so mean to her.

So I look up every vegetable and condiment before I put it in a story. I hope everyone does. When I read a book, say Ancient Evenings by Mailer, I enjoy it that much more knowing that he invested years in the reseach. I don't want any anachronistic faux-pas to jolt readers out of the magic.

Mucho apologies for neglecting the blog once again, btw. Who knew I could get so busy?

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