I had a critique partner ask me one time if I was hungry when I was writing a scene because I included specifics on what the characters ate. I wasn’t (I don’t think), but I like to be specific about what my characters eat for a number of reasons. Adding sensory details to fiction is a key part of making a story come to life.
One, it sets the stage so you can picture clearly what is happening, just as if you were there. A hot dog at a ballpark is a totally different experience than a gourmet meal at a five-star restaurant.
Two, food is emotional for most of us. We have sentimental feelings about our grandma’s sugar cookies or Mom’s chocolate cake. Since evoking the proper emotions is one of my main goals in every scene, food is a good way to do that.
Three, I have food restrictions in my life, having to be gluten- and dairy-free. It’s fun to have my characters enjoy food I can’t (at least not without a lot of work).
In the In the Shadow series, the characters go camping twice: a big road trip in Off the Map and a weekend away singles’ camping trip in Over Her Head. In both books, I drew from my own camping menus for the characters.
Melissa Ellis is the big planner (kind of like me!), and she plans the menu (with my help!) for the road trip in Off the Map. Kim Taylor just copies part of it for Over Her Head, having seen how successfully it worked for Melissa.
In both books, they make walking tacos and special s’mores. I had a reader come up to me in real life and ask me what walking tacos were. So I thought I’d share both of these recipes with you.
You don’t have to wait to go camping to use them. We served walking tacos for my daughter’s high school graduation party. They are great for easily feeding a large group of people because everyone can customize theirs to their own preferences.
Cook ground beef (you could use turkey if you’d like) in a large skillet with your favorite taco seasoning. One pound feeds about four people, so adjust for the size of your group.
Buy personal-sized bags of tortilla chips like Fritos or Doritos. Open the bag and crunch up the contents a bit.
Spoon ground beef into the bag. Top with your favorite taco additions:
- Shredded cheese
- Sour cream
- Green onions
S’mores are traditionally made by roasting a marshmallow, topping it with a piece of a Hershey bar, and squeezing it between two graham crackers.
But if you want to take it to the next level, use all different kinds of candy bars: Reese’s peanut butter cups, Twix bars, Kit Kats. You name it.
You can also add peanut butter or Nutella to your graham crackers.
Use your imagination, and satisfy that sweet tooth!