No I don't mean the expensive sort you go to where you have to be careful not to rattle the cutlery in case you miss a pearl of wisdom falling from a (usually) best-selling author's lips. I mean those literary lunches--and every other kind of meal--that you find for free within the pages of a good novel: meals that are lovingly or even glancingly described and that through sheer imaginative power make you salivate or bring 'l'eau a la bouche' as the French more appetisingly puts it.
As a kid I loved it when authors described what their characters ate and drank. From sumptuous fairytale feasts to the Famous Five's ginger pop and cakes, food always added an extra dimension for me, especially when it was exotic(like ginger pop, for example!). In my own writing at that age I always had at least one scene in which there was some tasty meal of some sort to tuck into before a big adventure; and the diary I kept as a12 year old(which I still have) is punctuated by descriptions of the meals we'd had that day, complete with a beaming sun for things I'd loved and a weeping face for things I hadn't: thus broad bean soup got a tear while Gateau Moka glowed with radiance. And all I can remember of the story I was writing at one point of that year apart from the title which I carefully wrote down in my diary--(the cheerfully Blytonish-derivative title of 'The Twins' Highland Holiday') was that it featured a big sausage feast, barbecued on top of a hill somewhere. Oh, and ginger pop!
Well, I grew up and I tasted ginger pop and was no longer quite so enthralled by it. And these days I'd put a smiling sun beside broad bean soup as much as moka cake. But I still love descriptions of food in novels, and in my own books for kids I don't forget about how much as a young reader I loved licking my lips over those literary meals. And so along with the excitement and the action I also make sure to serve up a tasty helping or two of food fit for the imagination.