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Food and Drink Choices Inspired by Fictional Characters

I was recently laughing at myself thinking about a few food and drink choices I had made that were inspired by fictional characters. I'm quite certain I'm not the only one who has done this. I mean the Cosmopolitan explosion a decade ago must have been driven by at least a few Carrie Bradshaw fans. Personally, when I first started to drink I was already a Wild Turkey man. I don't think I had even smelled it before the first time I ordered it - undoubtedly the influence of Hunter Thompson's Raul Duke.

Then, there was the time the summer before I turned 21 when I found myself at a outdoor wedding on Long Island. It seemed like all the men were in navy blazers, white pants, and boater hats while the ladies donned Laura Ashley. It just seemed so very Gatsby. I thought I was being clever in asking the bartender for a Gin Rickey. He didn't know what it was. And, frankly, neither did I - youthful arrogance repaid with egg on the face.

So how 'bout it? Have you ever felt a bit The Dude and downed a White Russian? Required that your Martini be "shaken?" Maybe you just checked the all the bakeries on the East Side hoping to find petite madeleines? I mean, at least someone must have asked for a cheeseburger “with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57, and French fried potatoes,” right?

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  1. Tea.
    Earl Grey.

    I bet it's a heck of a lot more popular these days than it was pre-Picard.

    1 Reply
    1. Oh, my, the first thing that comes to mind is Rex Stout's fictional detective, Nero Wolfe, who was quite the gourmet (and gourmand, too). Lots of food in those books, but I particularly remember him eating bar-le-duc , a currant jelly. We drove through the city of Bar-le-Duc, and stopped at a food store, but alas, none to be found. Still waiting to try some.

      And I am sure there are many, many others I'll think of; I've loved reading about food since...well, before I could read, and just "read".

      5 Replies
      1. re: lemons

        That was my first "to-mind" as well, good old Nero. But I have to throw in a vote, not for the characters but for the creator of the characters - Barbara Pym. I can't read her stuff without becoming very, very hungry for roast lamb.

        1. re: lemons

          There is a Nero Wolfe cookbook available (Rex Stout published it in the 70's) with recipes for the dishes he ate in the novels.

          1. re: flueln

            I used to have the Cb; lost it in one of many moves when I was younger.

          2. re: lemons

            Here is a store in Bar-le-Duc which sells the groseilles online.
            I didn't know that Nero Wolfe ate this jam but it doesn't surprise me. Each tiny jar takes several hours of intensive hand labor to produce; each tiny seed must be removed using a goose feather.

            1. re: lemons

              There's a wonderful passage in a 1938 Nero Wolfe novel where he gives a lecture on American regional food. A French food snob interrupts and says something like, American food is peasant food, of interest perhaps to anthropologists but of no interest to the gourmet .Wolfe replies, I can only conclude that you have never tried... and then follows a long and surprisingly accurate, description of several obscure regional specialities including the (now not-obscure Cajun etouffee). Amazing that Rex Stout was aware of those things 70 years ago. I'd love to reproduce the passage but can't because of copyright.

            2. I first found out about Plymouth Gin from reading Travis McGee books. I loved how it was described. then felt sad when he switched to another brand, I think it was boodles, because it wasn't imported any longer. then I remember when it was brought back into the US, and I bought a bottle the first time I saw it. I consumed quite a few bottles of Plymouth after that.

              1. Not adult food so much, but there is an author who wrote a cookbook about recipes from children's books. Jane Brockman's "Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer" is a fun look at popular children's book foods including Gloriously Sticky Marmalade Roll from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.


                I'm not sure where I picked it up but I adore Pimm's Cup drinks. It could be a book .. it just be something that sounded cool and I started to drink them when I could find them. :)

                1. As a child I was very intrigued by Harriet The Spy ordering egg creams. It was many years later that I finally was able to experience one.

                  There was a scene in the book 101 Dalmatians where the parent dogs gained shelter for the evening with an old man who made toast and tea by the fire, if IRC. That got me into a tea and buttered toast or cinnamon toast kick from about 10 -12 years of age.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: meatn3

                    Ooh, Harriet the Spy made me want to make tomato sandwiches - remember they made her own mouth water just thinking about them? just white bread, mayo, and thickly cut tomatoes and s&p. I keep forgetting to do that, every summer. Plus, i always want to make it a BLT.

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      And cake and milk. I am not sure who actually eats cake and milk EVERY DAY after school, but that would have been nice....eh, for a week.

                      1. re: Brianne920

                        I'd forgotten that - probably because i have no sweet tooth to speak of!

                      2. re: mariacarmen

                        I started eating tomato sandwiches because of Harriet! I've been eating them ever since and we eat them often during summer. Hellman's, salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious. All of our kids eat them now, too. All because of Harriet and Ole Golly!

                    2. Marlin ... Hemingway's "Old Man and the Sea"

                      Pasta ... "Scarface"

                      Escargot ... "Pretty Woman"

                      Rabbit ... Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men"

                      Fried Green Tomatoes ... "Fried Green Tomatoes"

                      Green eggs and ham ... 'nuff said.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Little Women - blancmange (plain old vanilla pudding sounding so fancy and french!)

                      2. Tea sandwiches--Mrs. Elliot in Jane Austin's Emma
                        Spaghetti--Lotty in Enchanted April
                        Steak and spaghetti together--Nick Cage in Moonstruck

                        1. Gravy for spaghetti- Clemenza in the Godfather.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: James Cristinian

                            I understand that the recipe (such as we hear it) was Coppola's mother's..the NYT printed it in her obituary.

                            1. re: hazelhurst

                              I did not know that but thanks for the information. While on the subject of mob movies and food, there's Goodfella's. This one however, is not fictional, and having read the book (Wise Guy), several times I can attest to that. Most of it is true, and while I don't remember exacty what the book said, in the movie on the day of Henry Hill's arrest he was making ziti with meat gravy, string beans with olive oil and garlic, roasted peppers over the flame, and fried cutlets for an appetizer. (I just watched the scene.) Martin Scorcese also had both his parents in the movie, it seems, Like Coppola, as a way to honor their parents.

                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                He also had Frankie Pellegrino, the owner of Rao's restaurant in Italian Harlem, as an actor.

                          2. > The Dude and downed a White Russian

                            After a recent re-watch of The Big Lebowski, I went out and bought some Kahlua. My Halloween costume this year was bathrobe, bermuda shorts, and quart of half and half.

                            1. There's on old children's parable called "Stone Soup" or suchlike that never failed to make me ravenous. It was about a couple of hungry soldiers who were trying to get certain villagers to help them prepare a meal. The villagers were reluctant so the soliders placed their put over a fire in the middle of the village, filled it with water, chucked a couple of rocks into it and began smacking their lips and loudly discoursing about how wonderful their stone soup would be. Slowly, the villagers began coming out of the woodwork and tossing in an onion here, a carrot there, a handful of mushrooms, a few chicken thighs, a dash of salt, etc. And at the end of the story the soldiers and villagers enjoy a wonderful cauldron of hot soup.

                              Blimey! Is it dinner time yet?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                Blimey yourself, Perilagu! Refer back to "The Forgotten Veg.", and scroll down a ways. We had a lively and interesting discourse on that very parable/fable/??? That story used to make me hungry too; Soup, glorious soooooouuuup...!

                                1. re: mamachef

                                  Sho' 'nuff!

                                  Forgive me, but a thread entitled "The Forgotten Veg" is unlikely to attract my attention. ;)

                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                    Forgiven, but you'd like some of the ideas on the thread I think....

                              2. No one here eats canned spinach like Popeye the Sailor Man? I loved that stuff as a kid, I think I was the only one. I occasionally eat it now, but prefer fresh sauteed. But I'll eat spinach in any form.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: chileheadmike

                                  I LOVED that stuff as a kid. I liked the texture, I liked the metallic taste (although at the time I didn't relate to it as metallic) and would always ask for double portions in the cafeteria. The cafeteria ladies would look at me like I'd just burst into flames before their eyes, but they'd always give me the extra. There were two of us who liked canned veg., and we were the ones with "organic, fresh and natural" parents.

                                  1. re: chileheadmike

                                    I think my taste for spinach was spawned watching those old Popeye cartoons for sure. What little boy wouldn't want to grow up with forearms like that?

                                  2. In the Nancy Drew books, the housekeeper (Hannah Gruen) used to make souflles for lunch. This was a completely unknown dish to me when I first read the ND mysteries as a 10 year old. Thought it was pronounced to rhyme with "duffle."

                                    1. I remember the first New Year's I had my own place, I bought a bottle of Piper-Heidsick champagne due to some chick lit novel I had read at the time, and knowing that I couldn't afford Dom or Cristal.

                                      1. The one that immediately springs to mind is Tom Collins's that featured in J D Salingers 'Raise High The Roof Beam Carpenters'. A very nice drink for the sweltering heat featured in the story. Considering the book I just finished reading was based in wartime Russia and featured (true to history) cannibalism, I don't think I will be too heavily influenced by that.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: TheHuntress

                                          Ahh, yes, a Salinger character drinking a Tom Collins led to my first taste of the cocktail as well. Zooey, perhaps? Anyway, a well-crafted Tom Collins is a fine sip - avoiding that dreadful soda mixer.

                                          edit - Upon reflection, I think it was the idea of having one with Franny that may have inspired me to order one.

                                        2. Philip Marlowe inspired me to try a gimlet. A good thing, too...

                                          1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe got my young arse obsessed with Turkish Delight as a child! And i still love it.

                                            1. Let's not forget Lord Peter Wimsey, whose knowledge of wines was encyclopedic and who (as an incredibly rich nobleman) ate very well. He's inspired some of my dining and imbibing choices. There is a "Lord Peter Wimsey Cookbook" available, if you want to try any of his dining excursions. Although you may find the stately Napoleon brandy, with the imperial seal blown in the bottle hard to find these days.

                                              1. There’s a guy named Pirate Prentice who puts in a brief appearance right at the beginning of Thomas Pynchon’s masterpiece Gravity’s Rainbow. There he is, standing right in the middle of an enormous penthouse high over the bombed-out rubble of wartime London, presiding over a huge roomful of raucous drunks, calmly cooking a 20 course banana breakfast — banana casseroles, bananas glacées, elaborate banana blancmanges festooned with decorations, some of the best food ever cooked in London, and all with rocket bombs screaming before him, all to be consumed by that roomful of rambunctious drunks.

                                                I've thought of him whenever I see a committed gonzo chef. And he has inspired me to eat more bananas.

                                                1. Here's a particularly memorable excerpt from Ian Fleming's Goldfinger. The resto is a--as far as I know--fictional place in Miami Beach called Bill's at the Beach:

                                                  "With ceremony, a wide silver dish of crabs, big ones, their shells and claws broken, was placed in the middle of the table. A silver sauceboat brimming with melted butter and a long rack of toast was put beside each of their plates. The tankards of champagne frothed pink. Finally, with an oily smirk, the head waiter came behind their chairs and, in turn, tied round their necks long white silken bibs that reached down to the lap.

                                                  Bond was reminded of Charles Laughton playing Henry VIII, but neither Mr. Du Pont nor the neighboring diners seemed surprised at the hoggish display. Mr. Du Pont, with a gleeful 'Every man for himself,' raked several hunks of crab on to his plate, doused them liberally in melted butter and dug in. Bond followed suit and proceeded to eat, or rather devour, the most delicious meal he had had in his life.

                                                  The meat of the stone crabs was the tenderest, sweetest shellfish he had ever tasted. It was perfectly set off by the dry toast and slightly burned taste of the melted butter. The champagne seemed to have the faintest scent of strawberries. It was ice cold. After each helping of crab, the champagne cleaned the palate for the next. They ate steadily and with absorption and hardly exchanged a word until the dish was cleared."

                                                  I don't even eat shellfish, but that passage gets me right where I live...my stomach!

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                    Ian Fleming wrote this: "My contribution to the art of thriller-writing has been to attempt the total stimulation of the reader all the way through, even to his taste buds."

                                                    Apparently (from what I see on the Internet) the restaurant was based on a real restaurant that's still around.

                                                          1. re: Brian S

                                                            Thanks, Brian! If ever in the area I shall repair to this establishment.

                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                        I don't have the passage memorized (or the book anymore) but I used to love the Pat Conroy description of the protagonist in Prince of Tides shrimping in a South Carolina marsh, and eating oysters as he stood knee-deep in the water - standing in the brine, smelling the brine, eating the brine, being part of the brine. a very sensual passage.

                                                      2. Mom used to read to us from some of her childhood favorites, mostly English from the '30s. My favorite ones were the Swallows-and-Amazons books by Arthur Ransome, about several families of English kids and their adventures with boats. By the time I was in high school of course I'd read most of them myself, and in fact we all could read, but it was a nice ritual and it gave Mom an excuse to keep reading them. Along the way we'd picked up on the idea of afternoon tea with cookies, or biscuits as they were called, especially the "squashed-fly biscuits" (which the Vermont General Store has in their catalog, though not called that!). Mom or I would brew a pot of tea, we'd get out mugs, milk and sugar and put cookies on the plate, and sit down for the day's chapter.

                                                        1. I always loved the image of the hard-boiled egg and little salt shaker at the end of "Bread and Jam for Frances".

                                                          Also, Dr. Seuss' "Butter Battle Book" inspired me to eat my toast butter side down for years. As in, all the way through college. I started eating high-protein, low-carb breakfasts in med school and mostly stopped eating toast then, but even now, every once in a while, in a restaurant with excellent butter, I will turn my bread upside down so the butter hits my tongue first - I can't deny the wisdom of the Zooks.

                                                          1. Nora Ephron's "Heartburn" (the book, not the movie) makes me so hungry every time i reread it. I made the fresh cold tomato/basil/garlic pasta sauce one summer - heaven. i need to go back and make more things from that book.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                              I love that book too!! The bacon hash is good, and my mom made pears and lima beans from it. My fave recipe though is for the pie she throws into her husband's face.

                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                oh yes, the pie!
                                                                mamachef, i think i posted somewhere else about that recipe for the pears and lima beans - i can't stand lima beans but was always so curious about that recipe..... i may have to try it now that you and your mama have endorsed it!

                                                            2. A vodka martini shaken not stirred thanks to Bond, James.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: ryback

                                                                I also probably owe my love of martinis fo 007, although I absolutely do not shake a GIN martini.

                                                              2. Elven waybread for me. Tip of the hat to Tolkien.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                  Oh, the dwarves and Bilbo meet (uh, dangit, what was his name - the bear/man???) and he shares thickly sliced bread, butter and honey. I drool just thinking of it, and even though it's standard fare, think of Bilbo Baggins every time I eat it!

                                                                  ETA: Beorn. Google knows all.

                                                                2. Warm hard-boiled-egg sandwiches, on toast, lots of mayo/blackpepper.

                                                                  Thank you Sue Grafton/Kinsey Milhone.

                                                                  (the most comforting food in the world)

                                                                  1. Anna the Housekeeper for the Ray Family in the Betsy, Tacy and Tib series set me up with an undeniable lifelong love for muffins. Oh, and blueberries, from Blueberries for Sal.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                      I wanted to love clam chowder after reading "One Morning in Maine" but it just didn't happen.

                                                                    2. A Moveable Feast....when he eats oysters in the cafe and describes to brininess, makes my mouth water. And the fly fishing scene in The Sun Also Rises, when they eat the lunch of cold chicken, hard boiled eggs and ice cold white wine, packed by the innkeeper....yummm

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: soyummmy

                                                                        There are quite a few memorable eating scenes in The Sun Also Rises. He manages to convey the ambiance without a detailed description of the food. I like the scene where the drunk revelers offer Jake and Brett food.

                                                                        1. re: Brian S

                                                                          Tuna in olive oil with bread to sop up the oil, eaten in the back of the wine shop....His writing absolutely transports me!