Food is its own form of communication and likely the oldest medium of human culture and creativity. As such, food is a key part of fictional worlds, making them feel more real and lived in. Although it is mostly in the background, food plays an important role in Broken Tongues. It signals social status; it conveys courtship, play, and nurturing; it helps repressed ethnic groups maintain emotional ties to their homelands and transmit their cultures to new friends and family; and sometimes it becomes a tool for the authoritarian state to monitor and control people.
Alu-Bel, the capital city, is a garden paradise where every public square is filled with towering trees for shade, but also fruit trees and gardens of greens for public use. As a runaway, Alaki is able to get plenty of fruits and vegetables from the gardens, but the only source of available protein is the tasteless, government-issued staple nutrient packs ey remembers from early childhood with a working class single father. So when ey lucks into finding an illegal speakeasy, Nuhu the cook’s rich, synth-lamb stew helps it feel like a new home.
When Bassat goes home to see her critically injured mother, she turns to a story about her favorite comfort foods of passion fruit and chocolate ice cream in search of the illusion of normalcy.
Given the importance of food in both our writing and our lives, once we had the draft of Broken Tongues ready to send out to agents, we decided to thank our spouses for dealing with us through all this by cooking them a meal drawn out of the book, featuring the aforementioned lamb stew and passion fruit ice cream. The food came out better than we could have hoped for, so we wanted to share the recipes.
Check out the recipes here: