Friday, 17 July 2015

Dinner At The Winged Cross And In An Airship

An unexpected pleasure in SM Stirling's fiction has been descriptions of food. I returned to Poul Anderson's works in search of similar passages. One likely prospect was Nicholas van Rijn's "...small, strictly private farewell dinner..." (Rise Of The Terran Empire, p. 12) for David and Coya Falkayn. However, this meal is alluded to rather than described in loving detail. We are told that:

such a dinner would last for a couple of hours from caviar to cheese;
in this case, the meal is preceded by beer, cold akvavit and various smoked seafoods;
other senses are also addressed - Mozart and incense in the air, iridescent vest and plum-colored trousers on the Falkayns' host.

Back in Stirling's Angrezi Raj, Cassandra King, traveling in an airship, dines on:

"...baffla wheat cakes rich with ghee..." (The Peshawar Lancers, p. 24);
"...pungent lentil dal soup..." (ibid.);
"...sweet laddoos dumplings..." (ibid.);
"...spicy rogan josh..." (ibid.);
sheermal bread;
skewered iced mango and watermelon;
Assamese tea.

(For me, coffee would complete the meal.) I have deliberately quoted Stirling's evocative adjectives: rich; pungent; sweet; spicy! Descriptions of food are one kind of narrative in which I think that Stirling surpasses Anderson.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

David Falkayn does gives us a fairly detailed description of one breakfast he had with Old Nick in SATAN'S WORLD. And Dominic Flandy also enjoyed fine dining--and quoted from A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS a description of how Chives prepared one such meal. But, yes, when it comes to food S.M. Stirling has surpassed Anderson.