What if, against the popular headcanon that Erik eats very little because he can’t taste much / views it as an annoying necessity / didn’t eat when he has lunch with Christine he eats normal, and maybe even enjoys doing so but just has a very fast metabolism?
I like this thought because “He can’t taste a thing without a nose” isn’t a valid reason because the smell receptors are inside of the head and not in the external cartilage. Hence Erik should taste and smell things pretty normal.
I think the reason that he didn’t eat or drink while having lunch with Christine at the table could have had only a practical reason. When he’s with her he covers his whole face under a mask, including his mouth. If he’d try to eat and drink while wearing it, it would look pretty awkward and would most likely reveal a part of his face.
Why I thought that he might eat normal despite having a skeletal frame is that Erik shows throughout the story that he is strong, agile and generally in a good physical condition despite his age.
(Even though he sarcastically remarks when Christine wents to climb the stairs to look into the torture chamber: “How nice of you to save me the exertion at my age!”, he shows in general no sign of bad health or physical limitations.
For example: He carries Christine, he must have carried Buquet’s dead body, he climbs on Apollo’s Lyre on the roof which is dangerously high, he swims and dives and potentally fights with the victims of “the siren”, he must row the boat of the underground lake very often and after Christine’s description he is very quick at doing so, the Persian, who knows Erik the best, says that in a fight man against man Erik would always win, no difference If he’d fight against a strong, young man like Raoul, he carries the Persian and Raoul after they’re unconscious.)
I don’t think Erik could be in such a good physical shape while being in his late forties to mid fifties if he would constantly undernourish himself.
Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Pick me!
Fascinatingly enough, there is some evidence to suggest that people who fast or slightly undereat (as long as they’re not malnourished) tend to recover and heal more quickly.
The idea is that since the body isn’t using up it’s energy to digest so much, that it’s energy gets diverted to healing. You also sleep better. But we’re really not sure WHY we evolved this way. Current theories include that perhaps we evolved this mechanisms to get through periods of scarcity by being stronger and more alert.
Maybe the reason Erik is so strong and seems to recover so quickly, even into old age, is BECAUSE he doesn’t eat a lot.
As for why he doesn’t eat a lot… it could be a lot of things. He could have an underdeveloped sense of smell, maybe. Or it could be his tendency towards depression. Depression can trigger lack of appetite in people, and Erik definitely seems to have some major depression issues. The Susan Kay book does seem to at least imply that eating may also have been linked to Madeline and her trying to force Erik to eat, so maybe he has some emotional baggage tied to eating as well.
I don’t know, but it’s interesting to think about.