You’ve all heard the expression, “One should eat to live, not live to eat.” Fortunately, or unfortunately, I probably fit more into the “live to eat” category. I love food (though don’t think the relationship is unhealthy…..yet) and some of my favorite memories are with friends and family gathered together sharing a meal together. Food can be a wonderful way for people to bond, share, and connect.
As I mentioned in my Holiday Drinks Post, I am a big Food Network fan. Some of my favorites were Good Eats, 30 Minute Meals, Everyday Italian, and Ace of Cakes. The food looked delicious and I always wished I had the skills and knowledge to reproduce those dishes. I was especially fascinated with how much science and research Alton Brown put into Good Eats. The visual elements of the show made it so much fun, and showcased his film background. I can hardly talk about Food Network without mentioning powerhouse Rachael Ray and her 30 Minute Meals. I am constantly amazed at how much she is able to accomplish in thirty minutes (even though she takes shortcuts and a lot of “help from the store” as she puts it).
But the sad thing is, as much of a foodie as I am, I’m incredibly inept in the kitchen. I can’t do much without a recipe, have no knife skills to speak of, and can’t manage much more than scrambled eggs by myself. I have a penchant for keeping the burners on high so the food will cook faster. My dad keeps telling me to turn the dial down, and cooking slower will produce a more tasty product. Who knew? For some reason, whenever I try to chop veggies or whatever else, I end up with pieces that are uneven in size and shape. I admire and envy those who can chop an onion like a professional chef and can whip up things on the fly. I didn’t inherit my father’s knack of being able to open the fridge and pantry, throw things into the pan and cook up something delicious. He has some sixth sense of how long something will take to cook, and how much seasoning is needed which was not passed down to me.
Compounding the problem is the fact that I grew up in a restaurant family, so ostensibly, I should have some skill to speak of, right? Except the fact of the matter is, growing up, if I needed food, I just went to the restaurant, and my parents would just cook meals there and bring it home for us. There was never any real need for me to learn how to cook. Why bother when free food is only 10 minutes away? I once was tasked with making chicken salad by myself from scratch. I kid you not, I started at about 7pm and didn’t finish until after 11. It took me 4 hours to make a damn bowl of chicken salad! Clearly, there’s a problem here. But it did end up being quite tasty, if I do say so myself. I considered it a huge achievement.
I see a lot of similarities and parallels to writing and cooking. Both can be painstaking and demanding professions that require time, dedication, creativity, and passion. If you’re in the business, it’s gotta be because you love it. Cooking is a labor of love, just like writing. I agree wholeheartedly with Rachael when she says that it’s easy to pick up the phone and make a reservations, but taking the time and effort to prepare a meal for a loved one really shows you care! And for me, there is something magical about being able to create something out of nothing Our tools are keyboards and words, theirs are stoves, pans, fruits, vegetables, meats, whisks, etc.
Naturally, this means romances that feature the hero and/or heroine as a chef are appealing to me. Cooking can be a hot and steamy business, and many romance authors have taken advantage of the sensual possibilities of heating things up in the kitchen, and elsewhere. One of my all time favorites is Laura Lee Guhrke‘s Secret Desires of a Gentleman, where the heroine, Maria Martingale a talented pastry chef, engages in a battle of wills with hero Phillip Hawthorne, Marquess of Kayne. Maria seduces all of Phillip’s senses with her delectable confections, and he succumbs to the allure of her chocolate tarts long before he succumbs to his desire for Maria herself.
The second book in Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor series, The Sweetest Thing, stars Tara Daniels, who ends up running a B&B with her two half-sisters Maddie and Chloe. She starts off as a cook at the Eat Me Cafe while they get the B&B up and running but ends up running the kitchen at the Lucky Harbor Beach Inn and makings pastries and meals. What I love most is that Tara gives her recipe funny and adorable names like “Life’s a Peach Muffins” and “Bottom of the Barrel Waffles” and “Life Sucks Golf Balls Casserole”. In fact, Jill even published Heating Up the Kitchen: Recipes with Love from Lucky Harbor, where she shares actual recipes of foods mentioned in the books.
Do you like cooking? Are you a good cook? Are you addicted to Food Network like me? Any other romances with cooks and chefs as the hero or heroine I can add to my ever growing TBR pile? LET ME KNOW! Let’s talk down below in comments!