Literary Feasts: Enclave, by Ann Aguirre/ Or Why There Are No Feasts In a Dystopian Society

Literary Feast Banquet Image @ Linus's Blanket

Food in books is not always plentiful or yummy, especially when you live in a dystopian society where the goal of food may be primarily for sustenance and nutrition, and not personal taste or pleasure. In Enclave by Ann Aguirre food is such a function of survival that it isn’t even named. It’s exactly what it is, meat. In the enclave where Deuce lives they basically have about three dishes. Portion size and and the order of eating among the community groups are used to distinguish rank and assign prestige. It’s one of the reasons Deuce is so psyched to be a huntress. I guess in that society, and with her choices, I would be too.

As I approached the kitchen area, the smoke stung my eyes. Copper was roasting something on a spit, and the grease hissed as it dropped into the fire. She got out the dagger and cut me a hunk of meat. It burned my fingers as I took it and gobbled it down. I’d never eaten breakfast first; only Hunters did that. Pride blazed in me.

Remember how I said they only had three dishes? This is one of them.

I opened my bag and pulled out a hunk of dried meat. We didn’t have a lot of variety even in the enclave: fresh meat, dried meat and mushrooms. Occasionally, someone found a tin and once we pried it open, the contents smelled fine and enticing, but that was the exception, not the rule.

That’s dried yak meat, by the way.

The enclave doesn’t seem to be a place that encourages pets. Look at what they do with “four-legged furry creatures.” My cats just got up and hid.

By comparison the rest of our patrol passed with relative ease. Half the traps yielded meat. A number of animals lived here with us; four-legged furry creatures we called food. I killed a wounded one, where the snare hadn’t broken its neck clean, and that bothered me more than killing the freak. I held its warm body in my hands and bowed my head over it. Wordless, Fade took it from me and dropped it in the sack with the others. We had brats to feed.

(Not pictured.)

So, I lied. There is indeed a fourth dish.

“Sounds good,” he said. “I’ll see what there is to eat.”

“Let me guess. Meat and mushrooms.”

“Might be fish.”

Yeah, they did cook fish every now and then to keep us from getting sick . The elders put a lot of thought into what we ate and how much. Without their careful planning our enclave would have died out long ago.


Every now and again they would all celebrate. Three of the four dishes were served and they could actually have more food if they wanted it. They know how to party.

“Let the celebration start.”

An answering roar went through the crowd. Pipes and drums echoed through the enclave. The torches smoked; people whirred and stomped while brats ran around underfoot. Roasting meat and mushrooms smelled unbelievably good, and there was fish too. For once, they didn’t limit us and I took seconds of each dish. Brats immediately snatched my plate, running off to lick it clean and then wash it up so someone else, someone less honored, could use it.

So my advice for a good meal…stay out of dystopian societies. The food is terrible.

There are more yummy posts about food, cookbooks, recipes and novels featuring food over at Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Check it out!

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Photo Credits: Flickr: Meat- jigglemequick | Dried Meat – lastmodified | Fish – .mushi_king | Beef & Mushrooms – Ned Rag