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Childhood literary chow memories

  • c

I think that I became a chowhound because of food cravings inspired by books I read as a child.
For example, after reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I wanted to try boiled maple syrup cooling thickly on a plate of fresh, white snow. I also wanted to take a piece of Hubbard Squash, spread it with butter and scoop it into my mouth like Laura did. I longed to taste the ambrosial turkish delight described in the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Even mundane, store-bought apples seemed more appetizing after reading how Tom Sawyer would steal them from under his aunt's nose.

What are your memories of food from childhood reading?

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  1. b

    For me, as a child, it was also maple syrup on snow, venison (which just sounded good - I didn't know where the meat came from), and the pork cracklins from Little House On the Prairie as well as the Turkish Delight from The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe.

    As an adult it has been all the Japanese food from Murakami's books.

    2 Replies
    1. re: brooklynmasala

      Murakami !! What about the simple tomato spaghetti Murakami's characters are always
      whipping up. Think of "The Wind up Bird..." guy. One of my all time favorite books. ( I once gave a copy to a man I was wildly in love with, he soon dumped me and started dating a beautiful Asian girl, was that stupid or what, but back to the chow... )
      I have developed a comfort food habit of simple onion, tomato and add just a bit of sugar, on spaghetti noodles. But I don't drink beer with it.

      1. re: ciaolette

        I love the way he describes the simple foods his characters enjoy. In one he makes a woman tea and brings out hard boiled eggs to munch on. Or how a character has potato salad for lunch. Last one I read I had to boil some eggs and get some potato salad, pronto.

    2. yours were beautiful and poetic.. mine -- from nursery rhymes-- 'little miss muffett'..and her 'curds and wheys'..didnt know what they were but i wanted some..also 'little jack horner'..sat in that corner..'stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum'....... yum! ..also 'simple simon met a pie man'..(i hope it was cherry!)...'pattycakes pattycakes..bakers man..bake a cake as fast as you can'...what a sweet topic this is....

      1. There were a couple of books about a Brooklyn Jewish family, I remember the first book as being All Of A Kind Family and in it was discussed buying cones of hot peas with lots of black pepper. I now surmise that the peas were chick peas but as a 5th or 6th grader it made me want to try those, but at the time having been raised pretty much in the south and southwest the only peas I knew were green or black eyed unless it was pea season and the rest of the time they were canned. The full sized grey green peas with lots of butter and freshly ground black pepper tasted pretty good to me.

        Being brought up with a southern/southwestern background the Miss Minerva and William Green Hill books and some Little Colonel always were something I could relate to when it came to food discriptions. I don't remember Nancy Drew having many gastronomic depictions but I did pick up the "Nancy Drew Cookbook" at a garage sale. It is a treasure in my collection but I have yet to cook anything from it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Candy

          i loved the all-of-a-kind family books as a kid! i desperately wanted to buy a hot sweet potato or a pickle from a street vendor (oddly, not so available in south florida. even at the mall.)

          1. re: funkymonkey

            I adored those books. I remember the oldest sister's name was Ella, and one of the others was named, I think, Hennie. I used to love the descriptions of them buying a cone of broken crackers from the vendor. I figured at the time (I was maybe, 8) that their old-fashioned crackers were a true taste treat and must be more like cookies. I read the same sort of descriptives in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," from Frannie's recollections.

            My Gramma had a slew of really old-fashioned "young ladies' books," with titles like. "Girl of the Limberlost", "An Old-Fashioned Girl," etc. and I just tore through those, loving the scenes about the midnight parties and "frolics" the girls had, with things like sliced tongue, jelly, cake and cream. "Anne of Green Gables" comes to mind with some great examples of early-20th-century Canadian specialties; especially wines and jellies and jams. The Little House series educated me about cooking on the prairie, especially: Jackrabbits, prairie hens, salt-rising doughs baked in a spider or dutch oven......particularly the book "Farmer Boy," which was very food-centered and always made me hungry. In later fiction, Harriet the Spy's Tomato sandwiches always got me; and there was a small series, the "Ginny and Geneva" series about two best friends, and in one of the books one of the girls enters a cooking contest and made a chicken lunch loaf with whipping cream, olive and almonds, and a dessert of babas au rhum, which sounded like the epitome of elegance at the time. Everything MFK Fisher wrote had a huge impression on me. She was the first person to instill in me the idea that food can be a sacrament, in a non-religious way; that one can be a guest to oneself. Her sensibilities turned me onto a whole new world of food. And lately, I've enjoyed these three books that were food centered:

            Stealing Buddha's Dinner - Bich Minh Nguyen

            Crescent, by Diana Abu-Jaber

            Death by Pad Thai - Douglas Bauer (a compilation of food stories and essays; wonderful)

            Trail of Crumbs - Kim Sunee

            And would recommend any of them. But have something around to eat while you do.

        2. How about "Stone Soup?"

          4 Replies
          1. re: Kirk

            Yes! Stone Soup, definitely. I am currently reading Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs to my toddler, which is a great book.

            1. re: brooklynmasala

              cloudy with a chance of meatballs use to be my favorite book as a kid... i use to wish donuts would fall from the sky...

              1. re: Ashley

                That was my favorite book too! (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) I also had a kids cookbook with stone soup, banana smoothies, bird nest clusters and other recipes that got me into cooking.

                I still wish donuts would fall from the sky every now and then, like snowflakes.

            2. re: Kirk

              Yes! Stone Soup, definitely. I am currently reading Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs to my toddler, which is a great book.

            3. As a twelve year old, I read " A tree grows in Brooklyn" so many times, I had ripped it into separate different sections. The family in that story was very poor, and the main character tells the reader how she spent a total of about 20 cents to buy food for her family throughout the week. Even though I never had to consider food in those terms, many of the decriptions the author uses made it sound so appetitzing (sp). They always had an extra five cents to buy a crushed pie for dessert on Saturday nights.

              Frannie always borrowed the same books from the library each week and spent her allowance on wafers to munch on while reading those books along with a glass of ice water.

              I need to read it again very soon.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Zaheen

                I tried it a few years back, after about a 40-year hiatus. It didn't hold up well at all, I thought - some awfully clumsy, even mawkishly sentimental writing. Too bad, because I really loved that book when I was eleven or twelve.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  oh man that sounds terrible..wonder if I should let it remain a perfect memory or try to relive it.

                  1. re: Zaheen

                    I have re-read it every couple of years since I was 10 years old (28 now). It's one of my favorites and it always makes me feel good. But I will say this - it is like a Lifetime movie. Pure comfort and not a lot of stress in the reading. Keeping on topic - I will always appreciate a nice dill pickle after reading about Francies Dill Pickle Days and her savoring it after days of blandness.

                    1. re: lbs

                      haha what a memory you have brought back. I don't even like pickles, but after reading it, I bought a jar of pickles and actually enjoyed them.

                      Thanks to all for reminding me of how much I love this book and how it has influenced me.

              2. I longed for Heidi's toasted cheese, it sounded so exotic. I don't believe I ever associated it with anything so mundane as a grilled cheese sandwich.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Aromatherapy

                  OOOhhh! Yes, I'd forgotten that! But the goats milk? Not so much.

                  1. re: kim shook

                    This is no longer under copywright and in public domain so ...

                    I think we might have something to eat first," said the grandfather,


                    Then he went up to the hearth, pushed the big kettle aside, and drew forward the little one that was hanging on the chain, and seating himself on the round-topped, three-legged stool before the fire, blew it up into a clear bright flame. The kettle soon began to boil, and meanwhile the old man held a large piece of cheese on a long iron fork over the fire, turning it round and round till it was toasted a nice golden yellow color on each side.


                    he laid the toasted cheese on a layer of bread, "but there is still something missing."

                    With that he stood up, filled the bowl with milk, and placing it on the chair, pushed it in front of Heidi on her little three- legged stool, so that she now had a table to herself. Then he brought her a large slice of bread and a piece of the golden cheese, and told her to eat. After which he went and sat down on the corner of the table and began his own meal. Heidi lifted the bowl with both hands and drank without pause till it was empty, for the thirst of all her long hot journey had returned upon her. Then she drew a deep breath--in the eagerness of her thirst she had not stopped to breathe--and put down the bowl.

                    "Was the milk nice?" asked her grandfather.

                    "I never drank any so good before," answered Heidi.

                    "Then you must have some more," and the old man filled her bowl again to the brim and set it before the child, who was now hungrily beginning her bread having first spread it with the cheese, which after being toasted was soft as butter; the two together tasted deliciously, and the child looked the picture of content as she sat eating, and at intervals taking further draughts of milk.


                    And then there was the grandmother who needed the soft rolls that were easier to chew instead of the black bread she could afford.

                    So Heidi would hide the white rolls in the closet to bring to the grandmother if she could return to her grandfather.

                    Yeah, Heidi had a lot of chow focus. When Clara sends the grandmother some cakes and and a shawl, and the grandmother is taken by the shawl ...

                    "Heidi could not help feeling some surprise at the grandmother seeming to take more pleasure in the shawl than the cakes. Meanwhile Brigitta stood gazing at the sausage with almost an expression of awe."

                    There's food in every chapter, the grandfather's sausage cured in the mountain air ...

                    And how could you not like the goat's milk ... it came from the goat with the name of Snowflake.

                    Yeah, I loved that book and always remembered that cheese and bread.

                    Link: http://www.classicreader.com/booktoc....

                    1. re: rworange

                      Thank you for that. Brought back memories for me, too. Loved the book when I was young- and I remember being disappointed when I later saw the movie- nothing compares to the book.

                      1. re: macca

                        Ah, yes. One of the most memorable (in a negative way) experiences of my childhood was going eagerly to see the movie version of "Heidi," only to watch in horror as my beloved story was messed with to the point of being unrecognizable. I never again trusted Hollywood when it came to filming my favorite books. The other one they totally screwed up was "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (come to think of it, that's another book with food...well, candy, anyway).

                        1. re: Cloudy

                          Heidi was indeed a great food book - and an awful movie. I can still remember wishing to try the sausages and cheese and how I craved white rolls after reading it.

                          My copy of Heidi showed a girl with short black curls. The movies always wanted to make her a blonde.

                  2. re: Aromatherapy

                    Grilled cheese sandwiches are comfort food. Not at all mundane.

                  3. For me it's gingerbread crisps and warmed up juice (mulled) and little meatballs from Astrid Lindgren's and Tuve Yanson's books.

                    1. Easy. Homer Price. A doughnut-making machine in your bedroom -- what could be a better fantasy?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                        Oh thank you, I could not remember the name of this book, but remember the story...Oh yeah the DONUT MACHINE....stuck in my brain
                        for EVER.

                        1. re: Dave Feldman
                          Caitlin McGrath

                          Since you've mentioned it before on Chowhound, I KNEW you'd bring up Homer Price in this thread, Dave. And what's better than a doughnut-making machine? A doughnut-machine that *won't stop making doughnuts*!

                          Speaking of Robert McCloskey, Blueberries for Sal always makes me sigh at the wonder of trekking off to pick (and gorge on) wild Maine blueberries.

                        2. what was the one with the woman who made a huge cauldron of spaghetti (or something like that)? was it struginona?

                          there was also one about popcorn that took over every inch of the house.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rebs

                            Strega Nona, by Tomie DePaola

                            1. re: rebs

                              Those are the exact two I thought of right away!

                              Strega Nona always made me want spaghetti.

                              The other one is called "Popcorn," and is abotu a little bear who has friends over when his parents are out.

                            2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, of course, and

                              Monsieur Bon-Bon's Recipe for Secret "Fooj" from Ian Fleming's Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.

                              I also remember being a but puzzled by the Big-Endian vs. Little-Endian dispute amongst the Lillputians in Gulliver's Travels, because we never ate an egg from either end in our house (my mom usually soft-boiled or scrambled 'em). Egg cup? What the heck is that thing?

                              Likewise, it was Shel Silverstein's Lafcadio (The Lion Who Shot Back) who averted me to the existence of buttermilk--a substance that had never appeared in our refrigerator, but of which Lafacdio was inordinately fond.

                              1. I remember with clarity the kids from "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler", who ran away from home and ended up living in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They fished coins from the fountain in front of the Met, and went to eat at the Automat. By the time I got to NYC (about 20 years after the book was originally published), the Automat was gone. But that book really colored my idea of NY and my gosh, I still wish I could have experienced that!

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: DanaB

                                  The automat was fading out about the time I arrive in New York from France. I ate there once - somehow I knew that would be the only time - the best part was taking the food out of the little hutches - food itself was pretty nondescript.

                                  1. re: DanaB

                                    I remember this book very vividly as well and NO ONE else ever does, even friends I still have from elementary school.

                                    1. re: belle

                                      I adored "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" when I was a child! So much so that I bought the book recently so I could reread it as an adult. It's as good as ever.

                                      I, too, loved the Automat scenes in the book, and am old enough (barely!) to have been to one once - my mom loved them, and took me when we were on a visit. For a feel for their glory days, see the movie "That Touch of Mink", starring Doris Day.


                                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                                        Ah, one of my favorite childhood books. The first time I went to the met (about 14 years ago now), I was delighted to find a cat in the Egyptian room that looked almost as smug as Claudia.

                                        My Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves, Island of the Blue Dolphins for rustic, natural food and survival.

                                        And the book with which I spent many, many hours playing, gleefully concocting mudpies and literal SANDwiches:


                                        Mudpies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls. This and a set of kiddie cookware is the best gift to give any child. (Ikea has some lovely sets at a very affordable price)

                                    2. re: DanaB

                                      Your mention of this book just brought back such a vivid memory for me. Thank you! My Mom read me this book when I was a child before bed. And after the Automat scene she told me about when she was a little girl and went to visit her Aunt Gladys in the big, bad city she was taken to the Automat and was just blown away by the "technology." I thought the idea of getting a ham sandwich out of such a place was magical.

                                    3. Just yesterday I was having a discussion with a 13-year-old acquaintance about Anne of Green Gables. She didn't remember anything about the food, which is all hearty 19th century Canadian fare, but we were both amused by the chapter in which Anne inadvertently gets her friend drunk on currant wine. If that happened today, Anne would be in a juvenile facility, the friend would be in detox and Anne's guardians would be in jail.

                                      When I mentioned this post to my husband, he said just three words: "Treasure Island. Cheese."

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: jillp
                                        Marcia M. D'A.

                                        Oh, yes, "Treasure Island"...that would be "cheese, toasted, mostly" or something pretty close.
                                        I like your husband. :)

                                        1. re: Marcia M. D'A.

                                          And then when Jim told Dr. Livesey about it, the doctor produced a chunk of Parmesan to give him. That was the first inkling I ever had that Parmesan did not always come as a coarse, mealy substance in green cans.

                                        2. re: jillp

                                          Anne of Green Gables sprang to mind immediately for me. They were always baking pies and cakes, which sounded wildly appealing to my young ears. Does anyone remember the episode in Anne of Avonlea (I think?) when the famous writer came to lunch and they ate cold chicken and had overly sweet peas because everyone kept adding a spoonful of sugar as they passed through the kitchen? I always think of that when I'm cooking peas.

                                          1. re: Petitpois

                                            So did I, when I was doing fresh peas last week. And I am often reminded of the story she wrote which was later turned into an advertisement for baking powder - whenever I get out the can of Rumford, I think of Rollings Reliable Baking Powder.

                                            1. re: jillp

                                              Or how about the cake that that had quinine or some other unpleasant chemical instead of vanilla?

                                              Or the famous "Raspberry Cordial" incident?

                                        3. I always wanted to curl up with a book and a pile of apples just like Jo when I read 'Little Women'.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: kim shook

                                            And I couldn't imagine what the blancmange that she brought over to Laurie could possibly be...

                                            Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com/

                                            1. re: kim shook

                                              stories and nursery rhymes were first for me, too--

                                              the tiger chasing himself around the tree so fast he melted and turned into butter for Little Sambo's pancakes

                                              curds & whey

                                              4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie (and my dad actually made it while living on a homestead during the Depression)

                                              Queen of Hearts' tarts

                                              one-a-penny hot cross buns

                                              one little piggy eating roast beef


                                              pease porridge in the pot nine days old

                                              Polly put the kettle on, we'll all have tea

                                              (later came green eggs and ham)

                                              1. re: kim shook

                                                How about Meg's jelly making experience? Since mine never turned out all that well either!!

                                              2. What a wonderful question! Traditionally, a Jewish father would start to teach a child Hebrew by smearing honey on the letters to associate deliciousness with learning to read.

                                                At bedtime my parents often read to me from "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame. I still feel it is the most beautiful use of the English language I have ever read. The tantalizing descriptions of food were my personal introduction to a lifetime of loving to read about delicious things to eat. Here's a very brief sample,

                                                "...After a short interval (the Water Rat)reappeared staggering under a fat wicker luncheon- basket...'Shove that under your feet,' he observed to the mole, as he passed it down into the boat...
                                                'What's inside it?' asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity.
                                                'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly;'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwidgespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater---'
                                                'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'
                                                'Do you really think so?' inquired the rat seriously. 'It's only what I usually take on these excursions; and the other animals are always telling me that I'm a mean beast and cut it VERY fine!'

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Niki Rothman

                                                  You're good. That quote was the first that popped into my mind when I saw the topic. There were several memorable feasts in TWITW.

                                                  As a kid, I devoured Mary Laswell's stories about Mrs. Feely and the girls, which always featured improv food as a central plot element. Herring rollmops, indeed. Hot chicken wings with cold beer. I've got a copy of 'Mrs. Rasmussen's Cookbook' around somewhere.

                                                  1. re: Niki Rothman

                                                    That passage stuck in my mind too; growing up in wartime England, chicken was just a treat for Christmas and Easter - it was not raised commercially yet. Having cold chicken on hand is still a mark of luxury to me (I was delighted to find that William Randolph Hearst always had a cold chicken in the frig at Hearst Castle in case he wanted a snack).

                                                    1. re: Niki Rothman

                                                      Thank you for telling us about the Jewish tradition of honey and letters and for sharing the beautiful passage from Wind in the Willows. I was wondering, did the child literally eat the letters with honey? Were they something edible formed in the shape of Hebrew letters?

                                                      1. re: chowmeow

                                                        The way I've always heard it, the Hebrew letters were written in honey, then strewn with almonds. You ate the almonds, and licked the honey from the (new) slate...

                                                        Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com/

                                                        1. re: chowmeow

                                                          you're very welcome. I re-read "WITW" every few years - it's my favorite book. Coincidentally, just read it again a couple of weeks ago.

                                                          Sorry, but i don't know more about the honey and the letters. you could contact local jewish day schools and ask if anyone has ever heard about that. not even sure where i read about it. Recently, I've been reading Rabbi Lawrence Kushner. A book called "Honey in the Rock" (funny that word honey is in the title) it's about spiritual insights in daily life and did have some passages about kids. Just not sure if that was where I saw the honey on the letters reference. wracking my brain, now I'm coming up with a Biblical passage that says something about getting honey from a rock - maybe in Exodus. Hope that helps a bit.

                                                          1. re: niki rothman
                                                            Jennie Sheeks

                                                            niki, that passage about honey from the rock is in Deuteronomy 32, and is referenced again in Psalm 81.

                                                            The idea about honey and words or letters probably comes from Psalm 119:103 which talks about the words and laws of God being as sweet as honey. Proverbs 16:24 also mentions that pleasant words are sweet like honey.

                                                      2. I can't tell you what a dissapointment Turkish Delight was when I finally tried it.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: JudiAU

                                                          Me too!!! So cloyingly sweet. I still try it once in a while in the hopes that I've just had bad examples so far.

                                                          1. re: chowmeow

                                                            Well, if you're ever in Istanbul (or Ankara, or any largish city in Turkey), go to Hadji Bekir and try some fresh lokum - aka Turkish delight - especially the rose-pistachio version. It's much, much better when it's fresh.

                                                            The vanilla lokum is wonderful, too, and is pretty close to what I imagined when I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.


                                                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                              Oh, I forgot to mention that not-too-sweet Turkish coffee is perfect with lokum/Turkish delight - it helps balance the sweetness of the candy.


                                                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                Thanks for the info! You've put the rosy tinge back onto my fantasies of what Turkish Delight could taste like. I'd love to go to Turkey and try the real thing. Often in Middle Eastern shops here, it's dry and too sweet.

                                                        2. "Chicken Soup With Rice," by Maurice Sendak

                                                          1. j
                                                            janet of reno

                                                            When I was in about fourth grade, my favorite book was "To Kill a Mockingbird." I must have read it a hundred times, even though I'm not sure I understood everything that was going on.....Anyway, there is a scene fairly early in that book where Scout has the poor kid over for lunch(whose name I forget, but she feels sorry for him because he gets beat up or something, and he comes from a family with lots of kids...)...Anyway, I can't remember what they were eating (fried chicken, maybe?) but I have always loved the mental image of him pouring gobs of syrup over everything on the plate.....I always wanted to do that. Does anyone remember what he was eating?

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: janet of reno

                                                              Just vegetables and meat, and now I'm going to have to re-read that, too. What a wonderful book to grow up with!

                                                              1. re: janet of reno

                                                                roast beef, corn bread, turnips and rice

                                                                "That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you let him, you hear? And if you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen."

                                                                Seems like good advice for all those posts where people complain about the way some people eat bothers them.

                                                              2. The Story of Little Black Sambo. Almost fifty years ago all my friends and I wanted to eat pancakes with lots of butter every time we read that book. Sambo was, is and will forever be a hero to me. Just this morning I had a high stack with extra butter and thought about that story of Sambo turning those tigers into butter. Every time I drive past Santa Barbara I plan a breakfast stop at the original, “Sambo’s” for the best pancakes in California – well worth the wait. I bought my current copy of the book at that little dinner. To me Pancakes with butter is a comfort food and to relate it to a childhood hero makes it that much more comforting.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Like-Go-Eat?

                                                                  Yes, I totally forgot about that until I read your post. I would always ask my mother to make pancakes after she read me that story. She was a terrible cook but she could manage Aunt Jemima just fine. Unfortunately the maple syrup was Log Cabin fake stuff but I didn't know the difference then.

                                                                  1. re: micki

                                                                    We didn't even have Log Cabin - mom made simple syrup with water and brown suga, and added maple flavoring. I didn't really care about that - nor about the fact that the butter was usually cheap "oleo"...

                                                                2. Oh my gosh, I totally tried to do the same Little House in the Big Woods thing the last time I went skiing (or rather, my friends went skiing and I hung around in the cabin for fun). However, I unfortunately forgot to heat the maple syrup, and just ended up with sweet melting snow. Didn't figure out what I did wrong until I returned home, oh well! Next time..

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: jacinthe

                                                                    i grew up in south florida and desperately longed to re-enact laura and mary's creation of maple candy with snow also!

                                                                    when my best friend and i moved to new york, at the first snow storm, we trekked outside in our pajamas and snow boots, where we filled our biggest frying pan with fresh, white, brooklyn snow. back in the toasty apartment, we squeezed half a bottle of log cabin over the snow, giddy with anticipation at our impending maple candy. needless to say, the log cabin syrup just sunk into the snow and created more of a maple-flavored snoopy snow cone situation.

                                                                    undeterred, we refilled our frying pan, boiled up the syrup and poured that over our pan of snow, where it all promptly melted into a puddle of maple flavored water.

                                                                    we're still laughing about it!

                                                                  2. A giant peach (James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl)

                                                                    1. In the late 70's, at around 12y/o, I remember reading a book about these kids who were into eating "alphabet burgers," or something like that. The goal was to eat a hamburger with a different topping each time, starting w/"a" for avocado, say, and going on to "b" for beets, or something, and so on, through the entire alphabet. That always sounded like a delicious project to me...

                                                                      I'm not sure of the name of the book; can someone out there help me out?

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: LisaM

                                                                        I believe the book was called Me and Fat Glenda by Lila Perl

                                                                      2. There was a book I read about 25 times when I was a kid called "The Owlstone Crown"- It was pretty exciting- very much a Babes in Toyland/Through the Looking Glass/Narnia kind of a story-

                                                                        The heroes were a pair of children forced to work in their Dahl-esque aunt & uncle's parsnip farm until they escaped to have adventures in a magical kingdom.

                                                                        To this day I dislike parsnips.

                                                                        I mentioned this in another lit-themed thread: the book that finally inspired me to go back to culinary school was "Hannibal" by Thomas Harris (Yeah, the sequel to Silence of the Lambs)- I just loved how Hanibal "the Cannibal" talked aobut food and the atrful ways he prepared it.

                                                                        Then I realized I was getting excitred about cooking PEOPLE!!! That put me off for a few hours, but really, my imagination was already fired-up.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: jdherbert

                                                                          This is such a great post!!! And what a relief to know I was not the only youth to relish those gastronomic passages in kids books. I would actually gather all my favorite books at meal time, the ones with the best food passages, and read those specific passages while I ate, it was like double the pleasure! You could tell which ones were my favorites because there were food stains all over the sections.
                                                                          My favorite book was called "Jelly Belly", and it was about an overweight kid whose parents sent him to fat camp. The book has plenty of passages about the main character overeating his grandma's cooking, and about trying to eat healthy food, and to this day, I still read through my dog-eared copy of it. Hands down one of the best kids books for food lovers.
                                                                          I also remember wanting to do the maple candies in the snow!

                                                                        2. My "magical kingdom" was the hotel my parents owned and the abundance of food -- any and all kinds. Being pretty much unsupervised, I had to blaze my own culinary trails. My favorite, a cake sandwich: a huge piece of chocolate cake between two slices of fresh rye bread. It was not until I was around nine years old when I realized that the entire combo could be greatly improved with a gentle hit of maple syrup.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Beevod

                                                                            My grandfather grew up in a hotel, and when he married my grandmother, all he ate was steak, french fries and ice cream. So when people talk about bad eating habits being a thing of today, I always laugh a little . . . my grandparents married in 1934! My grandma was a nurse, so she got him eating oatmeal and a glass of orange juice for breakfast, and carrot and celery sticks as a side dish at dinner, as an accompaniment to the steak and potatoes. But that was about as far as his food repetoire went.

                                                                            1. re: Beevod

                                                                              Oooh, you sound like a real-life Eloise! I hope you've read the Eloise books - she would have loved your cake sandwiches.

                                                                              Come to think of it, I really liked the food scenes in the Eloise books - the concept of ordering all your meals from hotel room service seemed like the height of elegance for me.


                                                                              1. re: Beevod

                                                                                Haha, Beevod. I SO envy you. A writer named Stephen Lewis tells about his experiences growing up in NY hotels as the son of the executive manager, and I always get so jealous of the food wonderlands y'all grew up in.
                                                                                My reason for replying though, was the Cake Sandwich. That's hysterically funny, especially your later improvement of syrup addition. I wanted to tell you that I have a friend who for years has made what we call "Cake Soup," consisiting of melted ice cream with cake crumbled in. We ate it when we were happy, sad or stoned. We ate it during breakups and breakdowns. And I thought she was brilliant and nobody else had ever thought of such a stellar idea, and then one day a few months ago I was watching tv and Kathy Griffin made the exact.same. thing. for Paula Deen, and I was so crushed.

                                                                              2. Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban. I think Frances is some sort of a badger. And she decides that all she wants to eat is bread and jam. She sees all the lovely food her mother is making for the family, but she doesn't want it. Then she gets tired of bread and jam and her mother packs her the most lovely lunch to take to school. I don't remember all of it off the top of my head (I have a copy of at home), but I believe she has her own little cardboard salt shaker to season her hard boiled egg. I loved it! And still do.

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Alex Halsey
                                                                                  Marcia M. D'A.

                                                                                  Frances is indeed a badger, and an even more food oriented book in the same series is "Best Friends for Frances", in which Frances, her sister, and friend Albert go on an "eating" instead of an outing.

                                                                                  The Hoban series is really charming if a bit dated. I still love them, too.

                                                                                  1. re: Alex Halsey

                                                                                    HER MOM PACKED HER A LOBSTER SALAD SANDWICH!!!!! (as well as a thermos of soup, a vase of violets, a hard boiled egg, some carrot sticks, and a bunch of grapes. (i have fantasized this meal for years)
                                                                                    i wish my mom was so accomodating.....

                                                                                    Bread and Jam for Frances
                                                                                    Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs
                                                                                    Blueberries for Sal
                                                                                    One Day in Maine (when they stop for ice cream)
                                                                                    The Carp in the Bathtub (i always hoped that the nasty ass gefilte fish that we were forced to eat had as neat of a start as this carp had)
                                                                                    and any and all Archie Comics where Jughead is involved. (Dan DeCarlo had a way of making pizza look so appetizing...)

                                                                                    1. re: Jupiter

                                                                                      Jupiter, my mom the uncook made me a lobster salad sandwich from canned lobster for a first-grade lunch sandwich on a no-lunchmeat-around day. I was OUTRAGED. I wanted tuna, or beef bologna. I refused to eat it. I sulked. I wept. And finally, I traded it to my teacher for the sandwich she got from the cafeteria, and all was well.

                                                                                    2. re: Alex Halsey

                                                                                      I literally said out loud, "o my god!" when I read your post. I'd loved Bread and Jam for Francis as a little girl and completely forgotten about it until your post. I remember also wanting to eat the meal she had, especially the egg. Thank you for bringing back this memory for me.
                                                                                      I pulled a "Francis" the first time I visited Taiwan as a 6-year-old. Despite all the delicious food around me, I refused to eat anything but bread and jam for a month.

                                                                                      1. re: Alex Halsey

                                                                                        Me too, Alex Halsey. Frances=definitely a badger. But what I loved about those books was how that was ALL she wanted, and wouldn't bend. The little cardboard saltshaker for a boiled egg was brilliant too. I WANTED one of those and had a visual of a little replica of a 3-d salt shaker made from paper - wasn't thinking it was probably a bindle or a packet at the time. The funniest thing was, I HATED bread and jam (weird kid, I know) but I wanted it after that book. And after I read, "Blueberries for Sal," I never wanted anything but blueberries ever, ever again.

                                                                                      2. My adult, embarrassed memory is of letting my young daughter try the maple syrup/snow trick, and completely ruining her permanent retainer which I had kind of forgotten was living in her mouth! Expensive food experiment...

                                                                                        1. This post really got me thinking! I've recalled a few other books that inspired me as a kid . . .

                                                                                          In one of the Oz books, I think it was Ozma of Oz, there are trees that grow boxed lunches -- she had to make sure not to pick the ones that weren't ripe yet. We used to make up packed lunches and hang them from the tree in front of my house and pretend they had grown there :-)

                                                                                          One of my favorite books as a kid was A Wrinkle in Time . . . I'll always remember Meg's mother, the scientist, cooking up stew over a bunsen burner in her lab. And they always had hot chocolate as comfort food after returning from an adventure.

                                                                                          And I can't believe nobody has mentioned the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books. I always wanted to have "second breakfast" while reading those books!

                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: DanaB

                                                                                            You are jogging more wonderful memories for me! I also loved A Wrinkle in Time. The most intriguing food memory for me was when Meg went to rescue her father, and she was presented with a meal which was visually appetizing, but tasted to her like sand because she was not brainwashed like the others.
                                                                                            The Hobbit is a favorite of mine too - would love to have been a guest of Bilbo Baggins at tea in his cozy hobbit hole with cabinets filled with seed cakes.

                                                                                            1. re: chowmeow

                                                                                              I love this post! A Wrinkle in Time was also one of my favourites but what stuck out in mind was the liverwurst sandwich and hot cocoa at the beginning of the story.

                                                                                              I was intrigued by sachertorte ever since reading about it in the John Bellairs' Johnny Dixon series. The professor was always baking this Austrian treat. To this day I still have not tried it.

                                                                                              1. re: mrsleny

                                                                                                Sachertorte is wonderful. My grandmother (German/Jewish) used to make it.

                                                                                              2. re: chowmeow

                                                                                                Oh, my did that stir the memory-pot, chowmeow. Yes, the description of the mouthwatering smells. I think it was roasted chicken, buttery mashed potatoes and peas. And it was nothing to Meg, just awful. L'Engle was a master, for sure.

                                                                                              3. re: DanaB

                                                                                                Yeah, I thought of Lord of the Rings too, specifically the magical Elvish waybread, lembas, which was not only a nourishing food for long journeys (an Elvish Powerbar!), but also delicious.

                                                                                                Anyone know where I can find some in the NYC area?

                                                                                                1. re: Cloudy

                                                                                                  I think lembas are just fantasy, but the bagels in NYC are 2 die 4 :-)

                                                                                                2. re: DanaB

                                                                                                  I don't remember anything food-wise from the Hobbit and LOTR, but I do remember the expression, meaning someone is pretty smart, "I can see through a brick wall in time." Wish that were current so I could use it.

                                                                                                  1. re: chowhundius

                                                                                                    Man, look at the Hobbits eating schedule and Sam's love of bacon, et al!

                                                                                                3. Pancakes, from the finale of "Little Black Sambo", which last time I saw it had become "Little Brave Sambo" and has now utterly disappeared...

                                                                                                  "Squashed-Fly Biscuits" (flat raisin cookies) and tea with milk from Arthur Ransome's books about English kids and their boating adventures.

                                                                                                  Anything from any of the meals planned for the ghostly guests in "Van Loon's Lives" (got my favorite pea-soup recipe from there!). And all the New England chow mentioned in various entries in "The Kenneth Roberts Reader".

                                                                                                  I might mention Winnie-the-Pooh, but back then I didn't like "hunny"...

                                                                                                  1. Ditto the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. The food imagery was vivid

                                                                                                    1. I collect juvenile fiction from the early twentieth century, and when Jerry Todd and his pals would dive into a meal of beefsteak and gravy or liver and onions, fried eggs and bacon, etc. prepared by Jerry's mom or Red Meyers' mom, it always made me hungry as a kid. The books were written by Leo Edwards.

                                                                                                      1. After reading everyone's posts, I am very hungry! Thank you all for your responses - I really enjoyed them. They inspired so many other memories in me. I am delighted to find that so many have tried to make the maple syrup on snow candy.
                                                                                                        I have not read many of the books posted here, such as Heidi, The Wind in the Willows and the others about meatballs and a donut machine. I'd like to read them, though perhaps the magic of reading them while eating something tasty as a child cannot be duplicated as an adult.
                                                                                                        By the way, has anyone read "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Solzhenitsin? It is a novelette about a man's difficult day in a Siberian labor camp. The hardships if the day are relieved momentarily by a bowl of warm gruel with some potatoes. For some reason, I associated it with oatmeal, and have loved oatmeal ever since.

                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: chowmeow

                                                                                                          As long as you brought up chow memories from an adult book...have you read The Magic Mountain? The amount of food those tuberculosis patients ate was astounding. Does anyone remember the scene at the card party where trays and trays of food were being brought in?

                                                                                                          1. re: chowmeow

                                                                                                            Wind in the Windows is definitely reading as an adult. And I always think of the same passage as Niki cited, the picnic basket.

                                                                                                            (On the other hand, I recently re-read Heidi and was a bit shocked that I'd liked it so much as child.)

                                                                                                            1. re: chowmeow

                                                                                                              I hope you do read my choice for best childhood literary chow memory, "Wind in the Willows." It's actually my favorite book, period. It makes a perfect gift for any young child. Published in 1906, Teddy Roosevelt thought so much of WITW after hearing his wife read it to his own children that he wrote an introduction to the book which is in the Heritage Press edition. The illustrations in 2 editions are so beautiful, and funny, that anyone who loves the book should get both. (Arthur Rackham and Shepard)
                                                                                                              It's still possible to find cloth bound hardbacked copies in very good condition on used book websites for about $20. And to keep to the food topic, there are several descriptions of wonderful feasts.

                                                                                                              1. re: Niki Rothman

                                                                                                                I'm going to treat myself to it!

                                                                                                                1. re: Niki Rothman

                                                                                                                  Ok, it took 4 years, but recently picked up Wind in the Willows at a thrift shop and read it. I was surprised by how adult the themes are. I loved the food scenes. They were depicted w/such warmth! I especially liked the one in which they visited Mole's home. In spite of his worries about his home and larder being shabby compared to his companions', they made a merry feast and helped him feel better about his home. Thanks for the rec!

                                                                                                                2. re: chowmeow

                                                                                                                  "A difficult day in a Siberian labor camp." Bit redundant, don't you think? ;)

                                                                                                                3. Blueberries for Sal - made me love blueberries and the coast of Maine.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: lbs

                                                                                                                    YES - and you just brought tears to my eyes.

                                                                                                                  2. In "The Search for Delicious", by Natalie Babbitt, the description of the trolls eating the apples evoked vivid mental pictures and made my mouth water. To this day, I eat the ENTIRE apple - core, seeds, stem, and all - just because of those trolls.

                                                                                                                    1. Let's hope this generation of kids don't think of the more dreadful flavors of Bernie Botts from Harry Potter:}}

                                                                                                                      1. There was one book in the all of a kind family series, where the two youngest girls partook of all kinds of snacks in bed that they had purchased during the day with one penny each - something like that. I think it was a bag of broken cookie pieces that they got, and they sat in the dark, crumbs falling in the sheets, trying to decipher whether it was a lemon drop, a ginger snap, a butter cookie, etc, while the little cookie shards melted on their tongue and they tried to muffle their giggles so mom wouldn't know they were still awake. What a great image!

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Sasha

                                                                                                                          I think you are remembering Charlotte and Gertie in Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family books. Those were fantastic books.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Sasha

                                                                                                                            i loved that scene! wonderful imagery! thanks for bringing it back to me!

                                                                                                                          2. Firstly, thank you for starting this thread. It might be my all time favorite thread. It has brought back so many memories and driven home my theory that that food obsession is in our DNA.

                                                                                                                            Bread and Jam for Frances and Blackberries for Sal were big for me. Also oddly, its nothing that I ever wanted to eat but I vividly remember the Liverwurst sandwiches in The Cricket in Times Square. I guess there was some chinese food in this book because when we finished it my class went out for a big chinese lunch - funny that I remembered the liverwurst first since I love chinese food.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: belle

                                                                                                                              Yes, thank you. I just posted about this porcupine family-- Bread and Jam for Frances. what a sweet story.

                                                                                                                            2. Dr. Seuss' "Happy Birthday To You!" was my food-fantasy book as a child. I loved the idea of eating special treats for a day - especially on the Smorgasbord. I still consider my birthday to be the one day I get to eat anything I want, all day long. (This year, it was chocolate-chip oatmeal!)

                                                                                                                              And five minutes later, you're having a snack
                                                                                                                              On your way out of town on a Smorgasbord's back.

                                                                                                                              "Today," laughs the Bird, "eat whatever you want.
                                                                                                                              Today no one tells you you cawnt or you shawnt.
                                                                                                                              And, today, you don't have to be tidy or neat.
                                                                                                                              If you wish, you may eat with both hands and both feet.

                                                                                                                              So get in there and munch. Have a big munch-er-oo!
                                                                                                                              Today is your birthday! TODAY YOU ARE YOU!


                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                                                                Your mention of Dr. Seuss reminds me of a book I use to read to my granddaughter, “Green Eggs and Ham.” I would read it with the expressive style that Jessie Jackson uses when reading Dr. Seuss. I will never forget her profound laughs. Finally in Chicago we tried Green eggs and ham and, “I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-I-am!’

                                                                                                                                Kitsch’n, Chicago “Green Eggs’n Ham” – Scrambled eggs mixed with “Spinach pesto”

                                                                                                                                Link: http://members.aol.com/smargolin/ryan...

                                                                                                                                1. re: Like-Go-Eat?

                                                                                                                                  I had a sleepover birthday party, for my 10th birthday, where my mom made us "green eggs and ham" for breakfast. She put blue food coloring in the scrambled eggs to make them green, and we had canadian bacon for the ham. I think only children can really appreciate green scrambled eggs ;-) It was a very fun way to celebrate a 10th birthday!

                                                                                                                              2. Lovely posts all, and what strikes me on reading them is that few of the books have long detailed descriptions of how the food tasted. They do have very evocative descriptions of the characters, and the circumstances (usually ones of joy and family ties, often in the midst of hardship) surrounding the meal, and of how much the characters (which the reader identifies with) enjoys them.

                                                                                                                                I wish I had similar memories to share. Mine is of the Michelin guides, to which my dad introduced me at age eleven. Seeing how its ratings were worshipped in France (and in our family) was my first indication that food is a very serious thing, worthy of study and attention.

                                                                                                                                1. Lots of books. There's the already-mentioned toasted cheese from Heidi, the marvellous feasts in all the Narnia books- especially the meal Shasta eats in The Horse and His Boy, with salads and lobster and snipe and ices, and the meal Jill, Eustace, Puddleglum, and the Prince have after getting away from the Witch, with the dwarves and dryads. Do you remember? They had fat, hot sausages, and crisp baked potatoes. In The Last Battle one of the good dwarves shoots some wood pigeons and cooks it with something like sorrel. Lewis says, "It would have been better with a little butter and pepper, but they didn't have them."

                                                                                                                                  Therre's an Enid Blyton book I remember reading where a family gets evacuated? or something, to Wales, and the description of their breakfast has always stayed with me. They had homemade cream cheese and I had no idea you could make cream cheese.

                                                                                                                                  The Anne books, with Susan's monkeyface cookies filled with raisins, and the broiled chicken Marilla makes, and Davy's sneaking into the preserve cabinet to get at the plum jam. Anne's cake flavoured with anodyne liniment, the chocolate cake Priscilla makes and then hides under a cushion, where it gets sat on. The cake covered in nuts that Anne takes Mr. Harrison when she's sorry for mistakenly selling his cow. "Ditto", the cold boiled mutton that the minister's aunt makes once a week, in Rainbow Valley, and that they eat every day.

                                                                                                                                  Actually, all of L.M. Montgomery's books have good eating in them. Does anyone else want to boil pig's potatoes with Emily, or eat hop-and-go-fetch-its with Marigold? Learn to make pie and broil codfish with Jane? Despair over a pudding made of sawdust with Sara Stanley?

                                                                                                                                  There's the box of baked things that Katy and Clover get in What Katy Did At School, which is filled with crullers and plum cake, and apples and nuts....

                                                                                                                                  I didn't read the Little House books when I was a kid, which is too bad, because the food in them is amazing. I'm sure I could come up with thousands more wonderful food stories if I tried. I think I have always wanted to read about people making things, and food, and that's about it.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: lissar

                                                                                                                                    What about the dead mouse in the rum sauce for plum pudding when Miss Stacey comes over?

                                                                                                                                  2. Also, for me, the James Herriott books... Mrs. Hall's cooking conjured up some fine images...

                                                                                                                                    1. And how could I have forgotten Mrs. Bismuth's molasses cookies from the Freddy the Pig series...

                                                                                                                                      1. Another one: The roasted potatoes and eggs in "The Secret Garden." The description of eating the piping hot potatoes outdoors - such a contrast to Mary's formal and presumably elaborate meals - always sent me into serious potato craving. I think that book is why I love baked potatoes so much.


                                                                                                                                        1. Another one: The roasted potatoes and eggs in "The Secret Garden." The description of eating the piping hot potatoes outdoors - such a contrast to Mary's formal and elaborate meals - always sent me into serious potato craving. I think that book is why I love baked potatoes so much.


                                                                                                                                          1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That room with the edible garden in it? I used to dream about it.

                                                                                                                                            They weren't out when I was a kid, but Brian Jacques's Redwall books have some seriously good eating in them.

                                                                                                                                            I had Turkish Delight for the first time about 3 years ago, and was SO disappointed. I had assumed it involved chocolate somehow, and couldn't imagine how Edmund had gotten all worked up over this sticky stuff.

                                                                                                                                            The Little House books always made me hungry, particularly Farmer Boy, when Almanzo tries to eat his way through all the different kinds of pie. My grandfather's family were farmers, and I can vaguely remember similar groaning tables. There is a Little House cookbook (I think it's still in print), which led us to try the maple sugar in the snow and the fried green tomatoes and the ginger beer...

                                                                                                                                            Dang. My yogurt looks totally unappealing now.

                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: klumppilston

                                                                                                                                              The food in the LIttle House books always seemed appetizing (other than the Long Winter of course), but Farmer Boy took the cake. I remember when they made homemade candy and Almanzo fed it to his pig and her teeth stuck together.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: klumppilston

                                                                                                                                                Those books made me want to try salting meat, and I desperately wanted to eat it. I remember asking my mom if she could buy some from thegrocery store.

                                                                                                                                              2. All the Enid Blyton books (a post-colonial legacy in many commonwealth countries) feature picnics at midnight (the boarding school books: Mallory Towers series and St. Clare's...), picnics with fresh milk, sandwiches and boiled eggs at farms or in meadows (Famous Five, the Adventure series), fantastical made up foods such as "pop biscuits" which explode into pools of honey in your mouth (Magic Faraway Tree series) etc etc.

                                                                                                                                                Also the "Just William" series by Richmal Crompton always had detailed descriptions of the breakfasts, lunches and teas (gingerbread, fairycakes, trifle) that William would scarf down before sallying forth to carry out more mischief.

                                                                                                                                                I also remember salivating over the pictures of hostess cupcakes and twinkies in the Archie comics. Funnily enough, when I did come over to the U.S., I never felt the urge to try them...

                                                                                                                                                1. Thanks for a great thread! Many of the books mentioned evoked similar food longings in me as a youngster. One of my favorites was reading about cream cheese and /or butter and watercress finger sandwiches in various English novels. The Secret Garden perhaps? I never got to taste this as a youngster, but one day when I spied a bunch of watercress at the produce store, I made some little open-faced sandwiches on good wheat bread. Delightful!

                                                                                                                                                  1. The tomato sandwiches in Harriet the Spy. They were the only thing she would eat for lunch, and she took a tomato sandwich to school every day. Which was just one of the things about her that made her schoolmates think she was strange.

                                                                                                                                                    I thought tomato sandwiches sounded great, until I read that they had mayonnaise in them. I had a serious mayonnaise phobia as a child.

                                                                                                                                                    Now I live for the first tomato sandwich of August, with mayo.

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: susu

                                                                                                                                                      Yes! I had totally forgotten about these so thank you for the memory!

                                                                                                                                                    2. I second the chicken soup with rice from Maurice Sendak. In the little house books, for me it was salt pork, my friend and I were dying to try it until her mother bought some and she found out it was basically a big chunk of fat. One more, birthday soup from Little Bear, which is just a vegetable soup...and I didn't much like vegetables at that age! But something about M. Sendak's illustration of the vegs made it so appetizing to me. My adult literary memory that I love is from MFK Fisher, when she is remembering being in the french countryside preparing a big pot of peas from from the garden, it's just beautiful, you have got to read it.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: shrimpbird

                                                                                                                                                        I love MFK Fisher! My favorite bit is her description of her boarding school, the petty hierarchies among the staff and it's fabulous, passionate cook. It all led to her first taste of oyster on the half-shell. I can't remember if she chewed.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I've been trying to track this down on my own, but have hit a dead end. I remember reading, as a child, a book about a little girl who tries to squeeze through a fence and gets stuck. People gather round and try to free her. At one point, a sympathetic bystander brings her a chocolate bun. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

                                                                                                                                                        I remember being captivated by the idea of a chocolate bun; I had never heard of such a thing. When I went to France for the first time, years after that, and was introduced to pain au chocolat, I always wondered if that was what the book was referring to.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Milk! Rice Pudding! Pancakes! Pepper Soup!

                                                                                                                                                          "What is the matter with Mary Jane?
                                                                                                                                                          She's perfectly well and she hasn't a pain,
                                                                                                                                                          And it's lovely rice pudding for dinner again!
                                                                                                                                                          What is the matter with Mary Jane?"

                                                                                                                                                          "Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,
                                                                                                                                                          Isabel didn't scream or scurry,
                                                                                                                                                          She showed no rage and she showed no rancor,
                                                                                                                                                          But she turned the witch into milk and drank her."

                                                                                                                                                          Another vote for Sambo and the awesome tiger butter pancakes!

                                                                                                                                                          "The door led right into a large kitchen, which was full of smoke from
                                                                                                                                                          one end to the other: the Duchess was sitting on a three-legged stool
                                                                                                                                                          in the middle, nursing a baby; the cook was leaning over the fire,
                                                                                                                                                          stirring a large cauldron which seemed to be full of soup.

                                                                                                                                                          "'There's certainly too much pepper in that soup!' Alice said to herself,
                                                                                                                                                          as well as she could for sneezing."

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jef

                                                                                                                                                            Alice in Wonderland! I'd forgotten about all the zany food in the book like the mushroom and other edibles that changed her size. And the tarts!

                                                                                                                                                          2. There was a book at my grandmother's about some kind of rodent family (maybe a porcupine?), anyway the girl is a very picky eater and will only have jam on bread. I think her family decides to give her what she wants, i.e. feed it to her at every meal, and we see that she gets sick of it. Jam on bread while the rest of the family is eating something else, at school,etc. Finally she relents and enjoys a big spaghetti dinner with garlic bread with the other porcupines.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tubbie

                                                                                                                                                              I think this book you describe is "Bread and Jam for Frances" which I loved, and also emulated when I spent a month in Taiwan as a little girl. Not one of my prouder chow moments.

                                                                                                                                                            2. roald dahl's books always had a bunch of food descriptions in them: the bfg, charlie and the chocolate factory, fantastic mr. fox (stealing all of that delicious food) .

                                                                                                                                                              remember the snozzcumber in the bfg and frobscottle? I really need to read his books again

                                                                                                                                                              he also wrote some great adult short stories and I remember one of my favorite ones being about this man who wagers a bet with a friend that he can't figure out the vineyard of some obscure wine. Can't really remember what happens in the end....

                                                                                                                                                              also never read this, but apparently he wrote a cookbook with his wife? Memories with Food at Gipsy House

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bitsubeats

                                                                                                                                                                I was going to mention all of his books! I mean, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach, yes, but...

                                                                                                                                                                Witches - The kitchen scene (although it didn't really make me want to eat)
                                                                                                                                                                Matilda - The scene when the boy has to eat the Trunchbull's cake?
                                                                                                                                                                The Giraffe. the Pelly and Me - The description of the sweet shop and the food the giraffe eats...oh my
                                                                                                                                                                Danny the Champion... - I loved when they holloowed out raisins and filled them with sleeping pills so they could catch pheasants. The description of the plump fruit made me long for raisins (which has got to be great writing, considering said raisins were drugged)

                                                                                                                                                                I could never decide if my ultimate food fantasy was the Chocolate Factory, the factory in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel.

                                                                                                                                                                A simple one that got to me was "David's Father" by Robert Munsch. I have since always wanted to be served cheeseburgers and milkshakes by a giant.

                                                                                                                                                                I always read "Chicken Soup with Rice" when I was home sick, and whenevr I see it, I think of the book.

                                                                                                                                                                The one I loved that hasn't been mentined is "The Little Princess." I remember reading about the scene where Sara imagines all the food they could be eating, and the next day it miraculously appears. I always wanted to put on the housecoat and slippers and have tea and cakes after that.

                                                                                                                                                                If we go for more modern books (my mom is a primary teacher) I quite enjoyed "The Stinky Cheese Man," "The GingerBread Man," one about a woman who goes to the market and returns home to find her many children have been turned into food fo a wicked witch to eat, and the "Arnie, the Donut" books.

                                                                                                                                                              2. In 6th Grade I read Vardis Fisher's Mountain Man (Robt. Redford's Jeremiah Johnson). It gave me a a life long obsession w/ eating game. You stalk it, kill it, skin it, cook it, eat it. The most fundamental experience in life or is gardening? Have you ever eaten crow? Going out in nature for several days w/out food and eating is a true art form. Take your LA sushi, take your NYC British "offal" food, gimme fresh caught trout stuffed w/ mushrooms and blueberries w/ steamed fiddlehead ferns and cattail root cooked over a lakeside oak fire on a summer's day, with only the sounds of nature as your company. Heaven on earth. Read Mountain Man and you might understand.

                                                                                                                                                                1. My two faves:

                                                                                                                                                                  Blueberries for Sal- Though I grew up In Jersey, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of summers in Maine and New Hampshire- this is the book that managed to keep me going the rest of the year! (as well as instilling a love for canning fruits and veggies)

                                                                                                                                                                  My Side of the Mountain- I loved his recipe for acorn pancakes and the other various roots and vegetables he managed to subsist on, and his desciptions of the cooking tools he managed to create were great to- using tin cans and making his own plates and bowls out of scrap wood. This inspired many daydreams of running off and making my own way in the woods.

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pierrot

                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, I loved this book too. But it wasn't until I taught it as an elementary school teacher. If you like Maine try to find Ann Morrow Lindberg's Worry Week. Three girls, survival food on North Haven Island.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is still one of my favorite books of all time.

                                                                                                                                                                    All the various dining scenes in Little Women (my favorite book) in particular the Christmas treat Marme makes for the girls as a reward for being so charitable to the poor, Swedish family.

                                                                                                                                                                    There was also a book that a read about a boy who wanted nothing to eat besides chocolate. And one day he wakes up and everything he tastes or touches with his mouth becomes chocolate. There is a scene where he goes to take a drink out of the water fountain and it's pure chocolate coming out. That picture was so vivid in my mind. I forget the name of the book though. It was very popular at the time.

                                                                                                                                                                    There was also a book to teach children about art called "Linnea in Monet's Garden." This book made a major mark on my life. It taught me a lot about art (and my favorite artist) but also introduced me to french cuisine. In the book Linnea and her upstairs neighbor who takes her to France (weird I know. He was an old man, non-related...could never happen nowadays) have a picnic in the garden. They have French cheeses, and baguettes, ham, sparkling cider, and wine for her friend. This particular scene made such a mark on my life. I have always wanted to recreate that wonderful meal and day in the book. And my lifelong dream is finally happening. My mother and I are traveling to Giverny in the Spring where I plan on sneaking in french bread, cheese, and ham to snack on in Monet's Garden. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/9129...

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                                                                                                      The book about the boy who only wanted to eat chocolate and developed the chocolate curse was called The Chocolate Touch, and it was a modernization of the Midas myth

                                                                                                                                                                    2. My first vivid culinary reading memory is from The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, specifically after the "magic" has come and brightened up the cold, dreary attic that Sara Crewe is living in after her father dies and she's relegated to becoming the school's help.

                                                                                                                                                                      The descriptions of the foods that they awaken to, after an awful night, has always stuck with me, and I remember reading these passages over and over again:

                                                                                                                                                                      "Imagine, if you can, what the rest of the evening was like. How they crouched by the fire which blazed and leaped and made so much of itself in the little grate. How they removed the covers of the dishes, and found rich, hot, savory soup, which was a meal in itself, and sandwiches and toast and muffins enough for both of them. The mug from the washstand was used as Becky's tea cup, and the tea was so delicious that it was not necessary to pretend that it was anything but tea. They were warm and full-fed and happy, and it was just like Sara that, having found her strange good fortune real, she should give herself up to the enjoyment of it to the utmost. She had lived such a life of imaginings that she was quite equal to accepting any wonderful thing that happened, and almost to cease, in a short time, to find it bewildering."

                                                                                                                                                                      1. A story from Comtesse de Ségur about a little girl that hid out from her nanny and ate a whole still-warm loaf of bread with a whole pitcher of warm cream!
                                                                                                                                                                        The book had these old-style engraving illustrations and to this day things served in a pitcher seem so much more appetizing...

                                                                                                                                                                        The little girl ended up ill from all the food but that didn't stop me from copying her prodigious gluttony from time to time.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Betty MacDonald wrote wonderful kids' books (Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series) but she wrote wonderful autobiographical books first. Check out "The Egg and I", "The Plague and I" and "Onions in the Stew" for some great writing about people, food, and living in the Pacific Northwest. (Oh, she's the writer who created Ma and Pa Kettle, who were her neighbors in Washington; not fictional characters at all.)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Not from a book but remember the scene when Buckwheat from 'our gang' made pancakes from just flour and water. He made them look so good, cooking them in a cast iron pan, I wanted to try to make them too.

                                                                                                                                                                            I do make pancakes now, but with more than just flour and water.