Sandwiches of unknown nature…

The title of the post is from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I read it and the SF nature of it jumped out at me. What? It did, my brain works like that… And it got me thinking about how I often tackle world building from a food standpoint.

I’m reading a Mesopotamian cookbook at the minute (It’s for a fantasy story, *sh-h* don’t tell anyone) and the introduction the author gave caught the idea I often work with:

There is nothing more commonplace than eating and drinking. And certainly nothing can acquaint us better with the representatives of a culture than joining them for a moment or two in these activities.

It can reveal societal differences between characters and races or act as foreplay. I love writing food scenes, which is odd, as I loathe cooking in real life 😉

Bottero pushed the idea one step further for me, moving beyond simply discovering the food stuffs in your culture. Making up alien food is fun, especially the ones that are still alive at the table, a la Klingon. He pointed out that to really know a society, you have to stand behind the cook, see how the food is prepared, what routines and ritual go into the actual cooking–or not–of each dish. This has added something extra for me to think about as I build my worlds.

It’s early and my brain is fluff on good food examples from books, TV and films. What are yours?

Oh and I found this quote:

“But how will I eat cake if my head is over there, and my hands are over here?”
― Marie Antoinette

From an SF viewpoint…this begs for the French Queen to be a tentacled alien in the making 🙂


Kim Knox brews sex, magic, darkness and technology in a little corner of North West England. She writes erotic science fiction and fantasy romance for Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Cleis Press and others.

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SYNTHETIC DREAMS and BITTER HARVEST are available now from Carina Press.



  1. Great post!
    It’s amazing how much food can tell you about a person, what they’ll eat, how they prepare it, and then who they’ll eat it with. A person who controls every single calorie might be just as controlling over their personal and professional lives. Another might eat junk, letting their bodies and their minds run on nothing more than cheezits and twinkies.

    I’m about to down my cup of coffee with a waffle. Wonder what that says about me….

    1. Absolutely, Flynn. Great point! 🙂
      Coffee and a waffle sounds great, btw…

  2. And chatting a bit more with @Isabelleflynn about this –she’s writing foody scenes herself at the minute –and she made another great point.

    A society will adapt foreign foods to their own tastes. For example, in Turkey a Mexican meal would come with yoghurt not sour cream. People like their own cuisine, why would they want something strange and different?

  3. I am now picturing a tentacled Antoinette. Thanks for the bunny, Knox. :/

    1. *mwahaha*

  4. I really have to learn to not read your posts. Now my mind is abuzz with what foods can represent different races.

    1. ooo, I like the sound of that 😀

  5. Food is an awesome way to convey the qualities of the characters. Of course I immediately think of my own novels. In the Stellarnet Series, the alien Glin are pyrophobic, so they don’t cook anything. When they have to live — and eat — among humans, there are many interactions where this issue comes up. They nom on all kinds of things we wouldn’t — like raw eggs, live fish, fennel bulbs, onions, green peppers, etc. And sharing food is considered a very meaningful act, because they are a hunter-gatherer society where food is not so easy to obtain. So, “Hey, baby, here’s some fish I caught,” is a total come on. Alcohol has no effect on them, they drink it but compare it to things like stagnant swamp water or animal piss. In book one, Duin asks the heroine why humans eat raw apples but not raw potatoes, and why they call one “applesauce” when cooked, but not call the other “potatosauce.”

    In mainstream sci-fi examples, there were lots of references in DS:9 to Bajoran and Cardassian food and drink. One of my favorite lines is when Dukat is in a holding cell and Sisko asks if there’s anything he can get for him. Dukat says, “A bottle of kanar and an Orion slave girl would be nice.”

    I also liked the scene in Babylon 5 where G’kar is eating the uncooked rice that was thrown during a wedding.

    And it seems like every drink in a sci-fi show is blue Kool-aid, sipped from a flower vase of some kind. lol

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