Category Archives: Food in Fiction

In their fiction, authors can include anything they want. So why might they write about food?




Poor Hansel and Gretel! Abused in their home, abandoned in the forest, kidnapped by a witch who planned on eating them. Both tormented by the witch, who kept Hansel in a cage and forced Gretel to take him food to fatten him up.

This horrific story is often told to children and, in fact, the very first theatre experience I ever had was a touring pantomime of Hansel and Gretel. I must have been about 4 or 5.

Television hadn’t yet arrived in our Far North Queensland village, so it was an especially glamourous treat for my family to travel to the small town nearly to watch a matinee performance.

And as my first experience of the power of live theatre, it overwhelmed me. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t entertaining. It was just terrifying, and I simply had no faith that any child could display the power of thought and action necessary to defeat an adult—as Gretel does, by shoving the witch into her own oven.


Now—decades later—I’m thinking of the role played by food in this story, collected by the Grimm Brothers and first published in 1812.  Continue reading



I once stole a piece of salami from an ashtray ...

Terry Durack’s confession: I once stole a piece of salami from an ashtray …


That is, hungry + angry. As researcher Amanda Salis confirms, the physiology of hunger creates emotional effects.

The human brain, she writes, “is critically dependent on glucose to do its job.” Without glucose,

you may find it hard to concentrate, for instance, or you may make silly mistakes. Or you might have noticed that your words become muddled or slurred […] Another thing that can become more difficult when you’re hungry is behaving within socially acceptable norms.

As a result of brain chemicals triggered by hunger, some people “tend to show high levels of impulse aggression.”

That can certainly be unpleasant in the office at that dangerous period around 3:30pm, but imagine the impact of those physiological reactions in an extreme situation.

-Continue reading …>


Breakfast with Hemingway.

Breakfast with Hemingway.

Ernest Hemingway published his first novel, The Sun also Rises, in 1926, when he was 27 years old and living in Paris. A fictionalised autobiography, it is based on events that took place in France and Spain—bullfighting, complicated love affairs, fights, fishing trips. And eating and drinking.

Hemingway was, writes Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan in the Paris Review, a man with “immense appetites—for life, adventure, drink, and a good meal”. Patrizia Sanvitale describes him as “the kind of man who liked to live dangerously—hunting and fishing, smoking, travelling, eating and drinking with largesse.”

When you start to look for food references in The Sun also Rises, it soon becomes evident that the narrative is based on a series of meals. The story almost staggers from one bar or restaurant to another.

Continue reading