Owen McKenna, the ex-cop PI protagonist in my books likes regular food. Give him a diner over an upscale restaurant any day. Owen would rather eat food cooked by a cook than food cooked by a chef.
A model for this comes from fond memories of a restaurant we discovered in San Francisco back in the '80s. It was in that triangle-shaped building in North Beach on Columbus near Chestnut, and it was called “Hal's.” The catch phrase on the menu was classic: “Food you can recognize, at prices you can afford.” Hal's, as I remember it, was McKenna's kind of place. Even though McKenna, a 20-year SFPD veteran, is originally from Boston, he's not into oysters, and he doesn't eat sushi. He knows no more about East Coast cuisine than he does about California dining trends. In fact, McKenna doesn't even eat “cuisine.” He just eats food. McKenna's diet is closer to that of a farmer from Kansas. Steak and potatoes and a glass of beer. Although, perhaps the Kansas farmer would drink Bud, while McKenna enjoys Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
In another departure from some Midwestern diets, McKenna drinks red wine. “Red wine is health food, right?” he would say. He would probably add, “I just drink it because it's good for me.” Same for chocolate.
Owen readily admits that he loves, and sometimes lives on, French fries and cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes. And of course McKenna can inhale donuts like any other ex-cop.
I'm happy to report that McKenna is trying to eat better, however. He's tried Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt potato chips. (Sorry, the guilty version tastes better.) He once bought low-fat cupcakes. He's attempted breakfast with only one egg, two strips of bacon, and a side of oatmeal, the oatmeal made enticing by sugar and salt, of course. At a recent social gathering he even tried snacking on the carrots and broccoli instead of the crackers and cheese.
The dip saved him.
McKenna can't escape the simple fact that the foods he likes best have lots of sugar, salt, and fat, and they all go well with beer, wine and coffee.
Basic food groups, right?