By Nancy Lee Badger
Writing a story is fun. Some says it’s easy, and others call it grueling. Still others refer to months of typing, editing, and research as ‘a calling’. Research is the part that I try to make into a game. What can be more titillating than including all the senses? Including taste.
My latest release, My Reluctant Highlander, partially takes place at a present-day Scottish Highland Games and Festival. Since I volunteer at as well as attend various gatherings of the Celtic persuasion, I easily drank in the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes. One delicious part of these gatherings are the home-baked goods offered for sale. My favorites are chocolate-chip shortbread cookies and hot apple cider. A smooth dram of whisky or a tankard of ale can soothe the dust from your throat, as well.
When researching food and drink to use in my book, I also had to incorporate history. My time travel romance partially takes place in 1603, in the Highlands of Scotland. Any mention of food or drink needed to be historically accurate, so I researched them. Here is an excerpt that takes place in my book, My Reluctant Highlander, in 1603, that describes some of the fare during a quiet period:
The Gunn clan’s village celebrated autumn with a healthy harvest’s bounty. They ground oats and barley, and baked them into crusty loaves of bannock. Leeks and chicken broth turned into delicious cock-a-leekie soup. Other mashed root vegetables, drenched in fresh-churned butter, joined the aromatic steam wafting off slabs of mutton. Villagers and clan leaders supped together on shortbread flavored with caraway seeds.
Here is another excerpt, when a friend of the hero, a man also from present day
New England, finds himself in a
castle’s great room in ancient : Scotland
“Do I dare ask what it is, I’m eating,” Bull whispered.
Skye leaned closer, and sensed Jake watching them. “ ‘Tis roasted venison in a sauce made of wine, onions, and other herbs found in the forest that abuts the meadow. Some grow in the herb garden beside the stables.”
“I saw that, behind the low wall?”
“Aye, to keep the hens, sheep, and pilfering children from eating it all.”
Even when my heroine is attacked by a sorcerer with evil intentions on his mind, I layer in common food items to describe the event:
A bolt of searing heat slammed into Skye’s back, smashing her face-first into the dirt. Her basket of vegetables blew apart, raining chunks of carrots, and lettuce leaves, over her. Pain sizzled up and down her spine, and her dress flew up past her knees.
During a more peaceful and happy event, I described more fare:
The women enjoyed their hard-earned rest, now that the cooking was finished. They had piled loaves of crusty bannock, and trenchers overflowing with steamed root vegetables on wood tables.
Food is one thing, but drink—primarily Scottish ale—is a big part of both historical
and present day
Highland Games. Here I incorporate historical beverages in one paragraph: Scotland
Cheering voices filled the meadow. Colorful plaids atop tall wooden staffs blew in the gentle breeze, even as dark clouds hovered over the nearby sea. Happy children screeched, as they ran from vendor to vendor. Spiced cider and heather ale dripped from barrels waiting for tapping. Women had dressed in their finest gowns, and plaids in the Gunn, Keith, and Mackenzie family weave were draped over their shoulders.
Present-day Scottish games or festivals are a great place to get a taste (!) of what ancient Scots enjoyed. Here is an excerpt that takes place at the fictitious New England Highland Games:
The crowds slowly dispersed; visitors and band members to their waiting cars and buses, and athletes to the showers. Jake took the stairs two at a time, then sauntered up to the bar on the top floor. Would Ross Mackenzie meet him in the lodge? Would Jake finally get some answers? He snatched a pitcher of ale and three glasses, just as dozens of others crowded the bar.
My point is this: a story’s plot needs to gather the reader in, make them hungry for more; make them thirsty to keep reading. I tried hard to accomplish this in all three books in my series Highland Games Through Time. The latest, My Reluctant Highlander, is available like the others in both ebook and print.
More About Nancy Lee Badger
She loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in
, and raising
two handsome sons in Huntington, New York , she moved
to New Hampshire where she
writes full-time. North Carolina is a member
of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers,
Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Triangle Area Freelancers,
and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy
Amazon Author Page http://amzn.to/13ICHLq
MY RELUCTANT HIGHLANDER