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Food in Literature

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?

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

    1. CAnnot go wrong with Il Gattopardo

      1 Reply
      1. re: hazelhurst

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

      2. 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

          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

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

              1. re: Ewilensky

                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.

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

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

                        1. 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

                            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. 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

                              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

                                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

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

                                  1. re: gaffk

                                    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

                                      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.

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

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

                                    1. Mock turtle soup from Alice in Wonderland.

                                      1. 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. 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