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The Fantasy Feast

4thstreetfantasy's podcast

Release Date: 07/11/2020

Meal gatherings are a prominent feature in fantasy. It’s not just the geographical availability of the food that details our worlds, but how characters interact with food and what it says about them. Whether characters’ staple foods are rice or bread, for instance, or if they have access to both, there’s still a choice of what to serve. A character who has more difficulty acquiring meat but nevertheless serves it to guests—or doesn’t—tells us something; likewise a character who can barely afford their own rice but still shares it. 

A meal gathering is about the food, but it’s also about more than that: narratively, we can use meals to manipulate tension, build atmosphere, and create social frameworks that underpin our stories. Familiar mealtime customs and ways of interacting with food can work as anchors for the reader, while unfamiliar ones can make an experience as universal as sharing a meal feel alien. Fantasy has a particular reputation for devoting time to depicting not just food, but meals: let’s tease out why. 

4th Street At a Distance panel podcast 1 of 4

Recorded: June 6, 2020

Moderator: Elizabeth Bear

Panelists: Casey Blair, Ruthanna Emrys, Fonda Lee, DongWon Song