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.
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?
Like Water for Chocolate
James and the Giant Peach
Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Fried Green Tomatoes
Winnie the Pooh
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.
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.
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Green Eggs and Ham by the beloved Dr. Seuss
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.
All of Daniel Reveles books-
Enchiladas, Rice & Beans
Tequila, Lime & Salt
Salsa & Chips
Not only is food the object of the titles, many of the short stories revolve around food in one way or another.
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."
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 ;-)
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.
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.
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.
In kids/teens lit: Any of the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder - esp. Farmer Boy
Fried Green Tomatoes
Like Water For Chocolate
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