I have a question for writers: Do you eat what you write?
I realize that's a strange question, but in the interest of research I often drink or eat or at least sample what my characters are consuming. I do so as part of character development. I want each of my fictional people to have individual likes and tastes.
Years ago, I discovered all my heroines drove Ford Mustangs. I drive a Ford Mustang (I'm on my fourth). A rookie mistake is to give your protagonist all your preferences, so I studied other makes of vehicles to add variety to my writing. It's a little thing, but readers notice. My latest heroine (who is interested in reducing her carbon footprint) drives a Chevy Volt.
Same with food, music, shows, furniture, and clothes. I had to listen to or watch genres outside my comfort zone. I browsed magazines for photos of the latest in people and home fashions. And I tried regional and different cuisines to understand their appeal to my characters.
This morning, my heroine made a pitcher of sweet tea. Typically I drink mine unsweetened, but to get in the writer's zone I sweetened a glass of tea and drank it sweet. I totally get the appeal (and the calories). Now I can describe its taste.
I used to hate coffee and so did my heroines. But that's not realistic. The majority of people in the United States drink coffee. I sampled coffee a few different ways and a few different brews and now I drink coffee! I discovered I like it a little sweet and with half-and-half.
In trying to expand my characters' individual tastes and preferences, I've expanded mine, too.