Question of the Week: Food & Fantasy

Fantasy novels are stuffed with food references. I don’t think it started with Tolkien, but the hobbit propensity for feasting is certainly a cornerstone of the phenomenon. And hobbits aren’t alone. The elves chow down, too. Two words: lembas bread.

At this point I confess that my wife and I throw an annual Hobbit party, with of course seven meals. (This year might be abbreviated to potluck.)

George R.R. Martin gets ribbed (har!) about the long passages of description he devotes to feasts in his Song of Ice and Fire epic. But those books have inspired cookbooks, official and unofficial,and people buy them. Hell, people throw Game of Thrones dinner parties, too.

What is it about fantasy fiction that attracts so many food references? Are fantasy fans simply more likely to be gourmands? Is it because of the “periods” in which fantasy novels are thought to be set? It occurs to me that┬áMedieval or Renaissance feasts are popular well beyond the membership of the SCA.

As a reader, do you look forward to such descriptions?

As a writer, what compels you to include them?

As a gamer, do you find there’s a similar effect in your campaign? I remember a few players who’ve lingered over the “menu” in the PHB.