It will come as no surprise, to anyone who has met me, that I love food. Because I am no longer the 110 pounds I was in college, I blame San Francisco. When I arrived there in the mid-1960s, I discovered the joys of global eating. No longer was I obliged to choke down iceberg lettuce, American sliced cheese in little plastic packets, and meat with the obligatory two dead veg. There was Chinese, Basque, Russian, Mexican, Indian, Greek… Well, you get the picture. I discovered FOOD.
And you think it wouldn’t be a part of anything I write?
Food says much about a character in a book. Does he/she live on hamburgers, fries, and bad coffee from a greasy café? Does he/she refuse to eat meat like Joe Pike in Robert Crais’ stories? Are they interested in regional delights like the Sicilian detective Montalbano or savor a fine brandy while equally enjoying a rough white wine in a worker’s café like Maigret? In each case, the food or alcohol choice says something significant about a character without the author having to write a lot of back story or explanation.
Although my own characters are less interested in meals than their creator, being monastics under a prioress who believes in the Benedictine Rule, they do not ignore them. We assume that priory diets were pretty spare and totally boring. In fact, many religious houses were better known for their fine roasts and good wines than they should have been. That was one reason I chose a prioress who reinstituted the leaner diet, banished wines and red meats (heated the blood---not a good thing for the celibate), but who also understood that a plain diet did not have to be boring. Tyndal Priory is fortunate to have Sister Matilda, a nun who can make a simple mushroom into a godly tart. This tells the reader that, although Prioress Eleanor is a stickler for the Rule, she believes in a gentler god, one who gives mortals earthly delights that can give innocent pleasure.
So consider food as an aspect of character. Even if you never mention food in your mysteries, that absence says something about your characters.