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Food in Literature

Fake Name Nov 15, 2010 11:11 AM

I'm on a committee that produces an annual fundraiser for literacy. It includes excellent food paired with wine and beer. I can't give more details yet, but you'll be the first to know about this San Diego event for dining, eating and food shopping.

Stay tuned.

But this year we're going to pair the foods closely with foods that play a role in books. Not just cookbooks, but literary works- think marlin in Old Man and The Sea or for kids, Green Eggs and Ham.

What are your literary/culinary favorites?

  1. mamachef Jul 22, 2011 01:01 PM

    In kids/teens lit: Any of the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder - esp. Farmer Boy
    Fried Green Tomatoes
    Like Water For Chocolate
    Anna Karenina
    A Christmas Carol - Cratchet's dinner scene, menu
    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood/Little Altars Everywhere
    The Egg and I
    Onions in the Stew
    Anything by Gerrald Durrel
    Under the Tuscan Sun
    A Year in Provence
    Trail of Crumbs
    Stealing Buddha's Dinner

    1. Passadumkeg Jul 22, 2011 06:07 AM

      I'm not sure if this qualifies, but I'm on a John McPhee kick. In an older work, A Room Full of Hovings, there is an story about his trip down the Sussquahanna, w/ Euell Gibbons, foraging for a week, in November. A more recent work, The Founding Fish, is entirely about shad and the appendix is just recipes. He credits the shad run to saving GW's army at Valley Forge.

      1. mjs Jul 21, 2011 06:48 PM

        Mock turtle soup from Alice in Wonderland.

        1. s
          SherBel Jul 16, 2011 10:56 AM

          Corn (corn bread, corn 'pone') in "The Yearling", author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

          1. LorenM Jul 15, 2011 05:25 PM

            Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LorenM
              Passadumkeg Jul 19, 2011 04:28 PM

              I'll take the leg.

            2. Chocolatechipkt Jul 14, 2011 10:11 AM

              Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

              Her other books include Five Quarters of the Orange and Blackberry Wine, but Chocolat is the best, IMO. Her books have become darker (and less appealing, to me) over time.

              1. l
                lwbookeater Jul 7, 2011 09:14 PM


                1. b
                  Breezychow Nov 28, 2010 04:10 PM

                  As someone who loves to read & loves to cook, something that may be a big help to you is - "The Book Lover's Cookbook - Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature and the Passages that Feature Them", by Shaunda Kennedy Wenger & Janet Kay Jensen. All the recipes in it pertain to great works of literature. Fabulous book that I picked up online thru Daedalus Books for just a few bucks.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Breezychow
                    gaffk Nov 28, 2010 04:14 PM

                    Thanks Breezy. I didn't know what I was going to get one particular friend for Christmas . . .I think this is it.

                    1. re: gaffk
                      Breezychow Nov 28, 2010 04:19 PM

                      It's not a fancy book by any means - no photographs or anything - but a fun read with interesting recipes. Maybe if you do a search online you might find some more info or reviews of it.

                      1. re: Breezychow
                        gaffk Nov 28, 2010 04:46 PM

                        Will do. But she is a lit prof and a foodie, so it sounds like a great fit.

                        1. re: gaffk
                          Breezychow Nov 29, 2010 02:45 PM

                          Then she most likely will love it. I'm not a lit. prof. but am an avid reader of classic literature, & I love the book.

                          1. re: Breezychow
                            gaffk Nov 29, 2010 02:54 PM

                            Already ordered. Like you, not a prof, but an avid reader of the classics. Really, I think you may have given me the best gift ever for this friend.

                  2. e
                    ediblover Nov 26, 2010 01:06 PM

                    Two obvious ones that come to mind are:

                    Bottle/Cake - Alice in Wonderland
                    Peach - The Grapes of Wrath

                    Others, though less prominent:

                    Gruel - Olive Twist
                    Chocolate covered cotton - Catch-22
                    Bread and cheese - Jane Eyre
                    Wedding cake - Great Expectations

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ediblover
                      gaffk Nov 29, 2010 03:01 PM

                      Do not overlook young Pip's Christmas dinner. He's feeding Magwitch and the constables appear. The description of his sister's food is classic.

                      Must re-read Catch-22 as I do not remember chocolate covered cotton; just remember Major Major bailing out the window. (Damn . . .every time I drop a bomb on them they try to shoot me ;-)

                    2. a
                      Albertagirl Nov 25, 2010 08:26 PM

                      The Auberge of The Flowering Hearth
                      I read this 20 odd years ago, must reread it!

                      1. c
                        cubano Nov 25, 2010 08:05 PM

                        Émile Zola's third novel, "Le Ventre de Paris," describes the Parisian Farmer's Markets in exquisite detail, and much of the action involves a charcutier. Also, as Wikipedia says, Zola's "description of the olfactory sensations experienced upon entering a cheese shop, has become known as the "Cheese Symphony" due to its ingenious orchestral metaphors."


                        1. DiningDiva Nov 18, 2010 03:16 PM

                          All of Daniel Reveles books-

                          Enchiladas, Rice & Beans
                          Tequila, Lime & Salt
                          Guacamole Dip
                          Salsa & Chips

                          Not only is food the object of the titles, many of the short stories revolve around food in one way or another.

                          1. g
                            gbrl Nov 18, 2010 02:58 PM

                            If you're inclined to suport local literary endeavors, a couple of years ago San Diego City Works Press published collection called Hunger and Thirst: Food Literature. It include local writers as well as some heavyweights like Barbara Kingsolver and Denis Chavez.

                            1. Beach Chick Nov 15, 2010 05:26 PM

                              A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
                              Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
                              Green Eggs and Ham by the beloved Dr. Seuss

                              1. t
                                The Office Goat Nov 15, 2010 03:39 PM

                                The Hobbit: When the dwarves and Gandalf are raiding Bilbo's pantry/cupboards. Bilbo is serving, but the others seem to know everything he's got stashed away and are asking for it all.

                                1. phee Nov 15, 2010 01:44 PM

                                  Just making sure you also caught these threads in the Food Media and News forum, as they may be helpful:



                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: phee
                                    Ewilensky Nov 15, 2010 03:19 PM

                                    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov - lots of great Russian feasts

                                    Proust's Remembrance of Things Past - the madeleine scene

                                    Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - the Christmas breakfast scene

                                    Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children - food tied to memory

                                    Zola's The Masterpiece - lovely images from opulent private dining rooms

                                    Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest - amazing descriptions of afternoon tea

                                    C.S. Lewis The Lion, The Witch... Turkish Delight. Yum!

                                    Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman

                                    Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - a great scene about asparagus and then an even greater scene about asparagus pee ;-)

                                    And if escargot is on the menu, the beginning of my favorite novel The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino begins with his sister serving up snails tied with wire in the shape of swans for no other reason than to be cruel.

                                    1. re: Ewilensky
                                      lemons Nov 27, 2010 03:31 PM

                                      re The Importance of Being Ernest: "One can't eat muffins in an agitated manner." My favorite line.

                                      1. re: Ewilensky
                                        Bada Bing Nov 28, 2010 03:49 PM

                                        I applaud your reading list!

                                        1. re: Ewilensky
                                          Passadumkeg Jul 19, 2011 04:27 PM

                                          The Master & Margarita is one of my old favorites.
                                          I taught Like Water for Choclate and as and end of book activity, they made food from the book.
                                          Vardis Fisher's Mountain Man.

                                      2. h
                                        hazelhurst Nov 15, 2010 11:29 AM

                                        CAnnot go wrong with Il Gattopardo

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: hazelhurst
                                          jmckee Nov 29, 2010 09:37 AM

                                          I have never read that. Mary Ann Esposito mentions it in one of her books, and it sounds scrumptious.

                                        2. DiningDiva Nov 15, 2010 11:21 AM

                                          Like Water for Chocolate
                                          James and the Giant Peach
                                          Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
                                          Fried Green Tomatoes
                                          Winnie the Pooh

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