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"Surprise" foodie novels

By "surprise" I mean it's not a novel you'd normally think of as "foodie". There are two series that stand out for me.

The first is, seriously, the Little House on the Prairie books. I think these books must have been the first time I ever read about food described in such delicious terms. Whenever I think about some of the simple meals described in these books, I drool a little. ;D

The second is, and I can't believe I'm going to admit this so publicly, The Earth's Children Series by Auell. Clan of the Cave Bear, Valley of the Horses, etc. The descriptions of food and eating, not just for sustenance, in these books is just amazing. :)

So what novels would you not normally associate with food that actually contain a lot of descriptions of food that make you drool? :)

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  1. The Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell - Kay whips up some mighty fine sounding Italian recipes

    Off the beaten path, I read a book called "The Bastard of Istanbul" right before I vacationed in Istanbul in 2006. This booked described traditional Turkish and Armenian food in great detail. It was great a great book to help get me familiairized with the food, customs and cultures of Turkey and Armenia. The author is Elif Shafak if anyone's interested.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chicaraleigh

      I don't know if you've already run across this chicaraleigh, but they came out with a Kay Scarpetta cookbook based upon her novels. I didn't realize it existed until I received it as a gift one Christmas.

    2. All the Aubrey / Maturin novels by Patrick O'Brian contain so much food they spawned a cookbook called "Lobscouse and Spotted Dick."

      1 Reply
      1. re: lergnom

        It's "Lobscouse and Spotted Dog." "Spotted Dick" was a pimply midshipman in the Aubrey/Maturin series.

      2. Nero Wolf mysteries are full of incredible food. In fact a cookbook was written using the food he and Archie eat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Janet

          Incredible food, eh? Too rich, probably. However, Wolfe's creator Rex Stout had a sister Ruth Stout who wrote a couple of organic gardening books -- How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back" and "Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy, and the Indolent". Her effortless no dig method consisted of mulching liberally with spoiled hay. In between the garden advice were simple cooking suggestions and stories about country life.

        2. I've been biting my tongue. I want so badly to suggest "Silence of the Lambs", .... but I won't.

          1 Reply
          1. re: billieboy

            Mmmm, brain. Fava beans and Chianti.

          2. I've just discovered the Inspector Montalbano mysteries by Andrea Camilleri (trans. Stephen Sartarelli), set in Sicily. Our hero won't talk while he's eating, and he eats a lot. (The mysteries are pretty good too.)

            5 Replies
            1. re: Aromatherapy

              Haruki Murakami's novels tend to include descriptive food preparations as part of the setting.

              1. re: tofuburrito

                The novels of Barbara Pym. Much British cooking from 1930 to 1970 described in loving detail. In one of her later novels, her last one in fact, one main character is a food critic, a middle aged man described...this is the 1970s as fastidious and snooty and wearing "pressed jeans." I always got a kick out of that.

                1. re: tofuburrito

                  Everyone should read Windup Bird Chronicals

                2. re: Aromatherapy

                  Just finished 7 of them, food is huge in them. Spend a lot of time of Altavista babelfish to translate the dishes, but to no avail. Finishing *Terra-Cotta dog* right now.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    There were translations in the glossary of the first one I read (Snack Thief) but I don't see that in my copy of Shape of Water. The former had a mention of hake in anchovy sauce with egg that will have me giving Google a workout when I have time on my hands. Somehow I doubt babelfish handles Sicilian!

                3. Len Deighton's Bernard Samson series. Dicky's dinner parties are burned in my memory. I believe Deighton has also written several cook books

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BeefeaterRocks

                    I have a crumbling copy of his "Cookstrip" book .. very good, clear, honest recipes.

                  2. did anyone read the mcnally books by lawrence sanders? they weren't the best mysteries, but i loved to read what he was eating and wearing!!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: toncasmo

                      Yes, I did! (My mom and dad used to give me bags and bags of books they had purchased and were finished with and my dad seemed to read a lot of these 'cause I ended up with almost all of them. I tend to think of these books as my dad's guilty pleasure because they were otherwise not in the realm of his usual reads...) And you're right, not the best mysteries, but it was a lot of fun to follow McNally around in his daily doings. Some very quirky characters too. :)

                    2. Michael Bond's series with Inspector Pamplemousse and his bichon frise, Pommes Frites are wonderful as well.

                      1. "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. In the summertime, I still want to make a honeycake based on her description and I think of the novel whenever I'm buying honey.

                        1. The novel "Mina" by Jonatha Ceely has some great descriptions of food being cooked and served in an English manor house in the mid 1800s . It's about a girl who escapes the Irish potato famine and ends up working in the kitchen of the house. There's a sequel called "Bread and Dreams" which I've ordered but haven't read yet.

                          1. I just read the latest novel by my current favorite author, Rose Tremain, "The Road Home". It is the story of a Polish widower who emigrates to London after the sawmill in his hometown shuts down for lack of trees. He finds work in a posh chef-run resaturant, first as a dishwasher and later as a cook. The descriptions of the workings of the restaurant kitchen and the personalities involved are very vivid. I won't spoil the ending. It is a wonderful book by a fabulous writer whose books are very different from each other but each succeed in creating their own universes within. You stop reading them as if waking from a dream.

                            1. Thought of another one, John Lancaster`s `Debt to pleasure`

                              1. Climbing the Mango Tree is a great food (indian) and family book.

                                1. The "Make Way for Lucia" comic novels by E,F. Benson. Written and set in the years between the world wars, these hilarious (Noel Coward was a big fan) stories are about the most inconsequential people who ever lived--the British upper and upper middle class and yet, once you're hooked you hang on their every word. Food and entertaining is a big part of their lives with one dish "Lobster a la Risholme" prompting a harrowing and yes hilarious adventure by our heroines. Enjoy!

                                  1. Down & Out In Paris & London by George Orwell.