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Mar 2, 2006 01:33 PM

Food in Fiction

  • n

I love food in fiction! Some of my favorite passages are from Like Water for Chocolate (Esquivel), Farmer Boy (Wilder), A Christmas Memory (Capote), Babette's Feast (Dinesen), and Fried Green Tomatoes...(Flagg).

Love reading a passage that makes my mouth water - in-text recipes are just gravy, so to speak.

Any other suggestions? I've found the Food History Books post below, but no fiction yet...


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  1. Good list: I agree, "Farmer Boy" is a little-appreciated chow classic! It seems like most of that book is about food (farm breakfasts ("stacked pancakes"!), lunches and dinners; popcorn and milk; making ice cream; eating pie at the county fair; baking potatoes in a bonfire; even searching for wintergreen berries in the snow).

    Some of my favorite chowish scenes are in "Prince of Tides" (Pat Conroy is definitely a chowhound -- the main character in "Beach Music" is a food/cookbook writer).

    In particular there's one long sequence where the narrator recounts the summer his mother decided she wanted to create a recipe for the local ladies league cookbook that would win her the admiration (and instant acceptance) of the ladies she aspired to associate with. The lovingly detailed descriptions of her various attempts are mouthwatering (it didn't hurt that the first time I read these passages, I was sitting in a restaurant waiting for a perennially tardy friend to show up for dinner, and was getting hungrier by the minute!). There are also some nice scenes with him eating in top NY restaurants.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Prince of Tides is a great food book. I agree that all the Little House books make my mouth water--they were always tapping trees for their own maple syrup and making balloons out of pig tails. Also Heidi is a really good one for making you want bread and butter. A lot of childrens books detail food memorably. I just reread The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and noticed for the first time how often they stop to have tea in Narnia. And Harriet the Spy always makes me want an egg cream.

    2. they aren't food-centric, but the Aubrey/Maturin novels by Patrick O'Brian have some wonderful food in them. they're also an excellent read. i believe one of o'brian's kids even published a companion cookbook.


      1. off the top of my head: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki, Serving Crazy With Curry by Amulya Malludi

        1. j
          Jim Washburn

          Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels (about 70 of them) are full of good chow scenes, and there's a Nero Wolfe cookbook that isn't too hard to find.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Jim Washburn

            That cookbook is a great read. It has exerpts from the books where the particular dish is discussed, then the recipe follows. For me, having read all of the novels, the cookbook brings back fond memories.

          2. Although not a primary focus, Virginia Woolf makes much of Boeuf au Daube in "To the Lighthouse." Proust's madeleine is iconic. I guess Hansel and Gretel's near- death experience with the oven is neither literature nor very chowish.