Recipes found in fiction books...have you tried them?
I just finished reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and at the end of the book, there are a bunch of recipes for dishes mentioned in the book. They sound good, esp the one for buttermilk biscuits, and I am tempted to try a few except... these are recipes written by the author, a woman who writes fiction and doesn't seem to have any culinary credentials from what I can tell.
So not sure how much thought has done into creating and testing these recipes.. perhaps they are there more for effect since the book mentions the food so much?
Has anyone tried the recipes they have found in fiction books? How good/bad there they?
That is quite an amazing book. There was a good bit of interest in it in the '70s - I first read about it in Elizabeth David, I think it was. (The Blumenthal sensory experience iPod with dish and the Achatz pillow serving platform that emits smoke make me think of it, although in much more appealing form.)
I have just finished 2 Patricia Cornwell books, one a Scarpetta and one a Wil Geranamo or something like that. I picked up about another 10 books (all at the used book superstore) right now reading Stuart Woods, and waiting also are more Diane Mott Davidson.
I now Dianne's all have recipes, but didn't know about the Scarpetta series or the one of Stuart Woods, his I have at least 15-20 more to read. Right now reading the last in the series of his Will Lee books. Will be keeping my eye out for the one with the gimlet recipe and Scarpetta's lasagne..
I buy/trade most of my paper backs at an Annie's Book Swap, and just found the used book superstore where I'm paying all of $2.99 for hard covers.
I've made a couple of pasta dishes from the Venetian Comisario Brunetti mystery series written by Donna Leon that were pretty tasty, and a crazy boiled potatoes and onions dish from the Andea Camlleri Sicilian series with Ispettore Salvo Montalbano as main character. Trying to interrupt that one was fun but not entirely successful...
I've tried recipes from Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy the caterer books. I know that I've made a bread recipe, a couple of pasta recipes and several others. I don't remember any of them being bad. On the other hand, none of them have stayed in my regular rotation so they can't have been too outstanding.
I recall an interview with the author that she said she had a recipe developer take her recipe ideas and develop and test them for her before she includes them in her books.
I would never hesitate to use a recipe in a book of fiction. Well, I would use a little common sense and not go running off to try out a recipe for turning lead into gold, but for food, yeah. Why not?
The most unusual recipe source in my collection is from a Royal Typewriter ad. Now, you KNOW it has to be from a loooooooong time ago. How long since you've seen an ad for ANY typewriter, let alone a Royal! It's a recipe for Chocolate Cake that was typed out on a sheet of paper stukk suttubg in the typewriter. I tore out the ad and tried the recipe, simply because it struck me as being too basic to be good. I was wrong! Here it is:
,,,,,,,,,,,,,Chocolate Cake from Royal Typewriter ad.............
Preheat oven to 325F
Baking time: 1 hour
1 cup milk.........................................1 3/4 cup sugar
4 squares bitter chocolate............1 cup flour
4 eggs, separated..........................1 teaspoon baking powder
............................1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt chocolate in heavy saucepan with milk and cool. Cream the sugar and egg yolks and add chocolate mix alternately with the sifted dry ingredients. Fold in stiff egg white and vanilla. Bake in 2 greased 8 inch round pans in 325F oven for 1 hour.
I made the pork chops with gravy from that book. For years, my (then) boyfriend, insisted I make them once a week. I lent the book out to a woman who's husband wanted her to make the pork chops after my boyfriend brought leftovers into work, and I never got the book back. I mentioned it once to my current (and long-standing) boyfriend, and he found the recipes from the book on the internet and printed them up for me. But that recipe is pretty basic.
I have Cornwell's Winter Table floating around here somewhere. I should give that one another look. The amount of detail she uses in her books to describe her character's time in the kitchen is very telling. I would think the recipes in the cookbook would at least have to be serviceable.
And, once, in grade school, I took our bottle of Log Cabin outside to try and make maple candy, just like Laura Ingalls. But it didn't work.
ETA: I corrected the title of the Cornwell book. It is Scarpetta's Winter Table, not The Thanksgiving Table.
<And, once, in grade school, I took our bottle of Log Cabin outside to try and make maple candy, just like Laura Ingalls. But it didn't work. >
I did the same thing. Because of her books I wished for a large bonfire to throw potatoes in and to butcher a hog so that I could roast the tail over a fire.
Also, there is the American Girl Doll Kirsten (the pioneer doll) whose "lunch" was a hunk of bread, a wedge of cheese, and some sausage. Twenty(?) years later that is still one of my favorite lunches to have.
Having worked in the publishing industry, I would venture to say that if a book, even a work of fiction, contains recipes, they were tested. A major publishing house does not want a bunch of irrate readers calling and complaining. Also, a reputable publisher would not take the chance in publishing a recipe that could potentially harm someone.
Also, just because Fannie Flagg is not known as a chef does not mean she does not cook. You would take a recipe from a friend and try it, wouldn't you? Do you ever try recipes from web sites not linked to professioanal chefs but posted by home cooks, like this site we are on right now?
Also...I found this on Amazon.com after wondering what Fannie Flagg was up to these days. Looks like the recipes in the book you mention are actual recipes from a real cafe that was the inspiration for the one in the book:
Thanks for the info and the link! That is interesting to know there was a real cafe.. I wonder if the people who ran the real cafe were inspirations for Idgie and Ruth? WIll definitely try the biscuit and fried chicken recipes soon.
The book was excellent but the constant mention of the food made me so hungry that I've already started cooking dinner, an hour early! :)
The one that comes to mind is from the Nero Wolfe (a fictional food-loving detective) book series-- a recipe called "Devil's Rain" for a salad dressing. Here 'tis:
3 cloves garlic, peeled
10 english walnuts shelled and toasted
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tarragon wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
This all gets blended in a food processor, more or less (you can leave out some chives for bits of color). I sure liked this over assorted greens and thin thin celery half-moons.