If you pay no heed to what certain foods, in certain situations, tell us then we are missing something important and fundamental about the plot of a story.
Food in fiction allows the reader to share an intimate moment with a character, place or event. [Spoiler warning if you haven’t read Leviathan Wakes : Chapter 22 or S01E06]
“He’d stopped at a noodle cart, two new yens’ worth of egg noodles in black sauce steaming in their cone, when a hand clapped on his shoulder.” (Leviathan Wakes: 22 : Miller)
When Josephus Miller loses his job and travels to Eros searching for Julie Mao, he stops at a noodle cart for a steaming cone of “two new yens’ worth of egg noodles in black sauce.”
What do these noodles and sauce really represent?
The price gives us a first glance at the budget restrictions on Miller. We aren’t really sure what two new yen can really buy, but we infer that it isn’t much. Noodle carts are seen throughout the book and television series. They represent an irreplaceable part of the culture in which they feed. They are cheap, easy and abundant.
Out of all of the sauces James S. A. Corey could’ve have used, why does Miller select black sauce?
This imagery of black sauce represents two aspects of Miller’s current situation,
1. His sense of self-worth is low and the color black represents the dark thoughts, and confusion, that go unsaid. James S. A. Corey could have simply said that Miller wasn’t himself felt sad for the cards he’d been dealt. Instead we order some noodles alongside Miller taking in the scene. We, the readers, get to view the depth of his anguish for just two new yen.
2. We imagine the sauce as something dark and thick. It is a symbol of the situation Miller finds himself in. The troubles he has encountered, and will in the future, are seemingly inescapable. His difficulties seem so impassable. so dense and impenetrable.
All of this is communicated to us in a single sentence. This is the power of food in fiction. In a story that may seem distant and difficult to comprehend, we are able to engage with the story on a very human level.
Eros Black Sauce and Noodles
For the black sauce, I had a choice between something simple like hoisin or soy sauce, but I wanted something thick and full. I chose to make a black bean sauce or Chunjang. Chunjang is a Korean-Chinese paste made of fermented black beans that is used in sauces and marinades.
I’d never knew black beans could be sauce, but then again my culinary scope is still often focused on nuggets and mac and cheese. Regardless, let’s try it out! Get the sauce it at your local Asian store or here.
Black Bean Paste
- 1/2 cup black beans paste (Asian store or online)
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp dried pepper flakes (more if you can handle it)
- 1/2 white onions, chopped
- 1/2 green onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup water 2-3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch (dissolved in 1 tsp warm water)
- 2 cups vegetable oil
- And you favorite noodles (egg noodles are more authentic to the book)
Black Sauce and Noodles
When done, drain and plate! Before serving, change into your favorite black shirt (for imminent black sauce stains). Plate your noodles, pour some “Eros” black sauce on top and kill dem noodles!