Food is on my mind. Not surprisingly since I seem to have eaten non-stop for the last three weeks! I always end up eating more when I'm doing less - lazing about on the beach and loitering in bookshops must use up far more energy than I realise : )
Although, to be honest, food is never very far from my mind. When I was teaching at the University of Kent, in the UK, one student remarked that I had never managed to last a whole seminar without mentioning food or drink. In the context of the seminar's theme, that is... But it's true that my novel, The Oven House, is full of foodie bits - coffee shops, poached salmon, kettle crisps, home-made soup, pesto sauce, ice-cream...
I also know that food plays an important part in my memories, from my dad's vegetable garden, to the tin of condensed milk my granny kept on the kitchen table to add to her tea, to the frozen peas I tried to outstare every time my mother put them on my plate and said, 'Eat them. They're good for you.'
Brainstorm for food associated with your childhood. Food you liked and food you hated. Food and drink that you weren't allowed to have. Treats. Special occasions. Fears and rewards.
Here's an old poem of mine to start you off.
for my father
When the jungle of leaves
dropped their scarlet blossoms
we waited for them to grow
at first invisible against the green
but in August we pushed
between the rows with a colander
and your orders to leave the small
and not to miss the big.
The coarse underside of leaves
grazed our bare shoulders, sun
dribbled through the overlaps.
We smelt hot, uncooked beans
and tugged them from their stalks,
some solid bodied, plumping
along their length, others curling
like witches’ fingernails.
In the kitchen you topped, tailed,
and pared the spines away.
Just a plate of these’ll do me you used to say,
with butter and a drop of pepper.
At the end of Summer
you saved twelve maybe twenty
moist red hearts
to harden in brown paper.