food in literature, gone with the wind

for the past few weeks i've been reading gone with the wind (on my phone, which makes this ridiculously long story feel much longer).

to be perfectly honest, i'm not sure i like it, but having started it, i'll at least finish it. it's difficult reading a book when you just don't like the main character.

one thing that has stood out, in a good way, has been the emphasis placed on food and hunger. the last book i read where food stood out so much to the main character was don't let's go to the dogs tonight.

the big difference between that book and this one, however, was i really liked don't let's go to the dogs tonight and every time i think i might be okay with gone with the wind, scarlett goes and does something really dumb or horrible.

i'm also not normally a big fan of civil war stories, but that's just me.

when there are passages like this, though, you can't help wishing scarlett would get her act together and make the story less painful:

 

food! food! why did the stomach have a longer memory than the mind? scarlett could banish heartbreak but not hunger and each morning as she lay half asleep, before memory brought back to her mind war and hunger, she curled drowsily expecting the sweet smells of bacon frying and rolls baking. and each morning she sniffed so hard to really smell the food she woke herself up.

there were apples, yams, peanuts, and milk on the table at tara but never enough of this primitive fare. at the sight of them, three times a day, her memory would rush back to the old days, the candle-lit table and the food perfuming the air.

how careless they had been of food then, what prodigal waste! rolls, corn muffins, biscuits, and waffles, dripping butter, all at one meal. ham at one end of the table and fried chicken at the other, collards swimming richly in pot liquor iridescent with grease, snap beans in mountains on brightly flowered porcelain, fried squash, stewed orka, carrots in cream sauce thick enough to cut. and three desserts so everyone might have his choice, chocolate layer cake, vanilla blanc mange, and pound cake topped with sweet whipped cream. the memory of those savory meals had the power to bring tears to her eyes as death and war had failed to do, and the power to turn her ever-gnawing stomach from rumbling emptiness to nausea. for the appetite mammy had always deplored, the healthy appetite of a nineteen-year-old girl, now was increased fourfold by the hard and unremitting labor she had never known before (mitchell part 3, chapter 9).

 

honestly, though, i might not survive this book.