Literary Eats


Now, hereโ€™s some food for thought. Literally!

Do you plan your cooking around your reading? Do you plan your reading around your eating? Or do they never correlate in your mind?

I must confess, it isn’t something I thought a lot about until I recently was catching up with Elise Bishop, one of my former college professors/bosses. She’s a regular blog reader, and when I told her I was always open to blog post idea suggestions, she told me I ought to write about the connection between literature and food. Thanks for the great suggestion, Mrs. B.!

I must confess, my immediate association of literature and food is not a particularly very appetizing moment. It’s that scene in Oliver Twist where the titular character wants more porridge and famously says, “Please, sir, I want some more”

I quote it more than is emotionally healthy or normal. However, that literary moment does not fill me with a desire to eat or cook workhouse porridge.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t occasionally been interested in the fictional world of food. At one point, I did actually read the official cookbook that accompanies the Game of Thrones series, mainly because I was curious about how strictly medieval it was. The same impulse drove me to read the official cookbook for the television show Downton Abbey. I was curious about the world of Edwardian food and how actually Edwardian the cookbook was. Though I found some stuff that looked pretty good in both of them, I never once followed through and made anything in either cookbook.

Sadly, these are not the only cookbooks I have read all the way through and never used. I’m not sure how many other people out there have read multiple cookbooks cover-to-cover with no intention of actually trying any of the recipes, but if there are more of us out there, we should form a book club. ๐Ÿ™‚

Granted, both of those books featured some pretty elaborate dishes that are outside of my personal wheelhouse when it comes to cooking, but I can’t really use that as an excuse. I never have actually made any other literary dish that was simpler, either.

Last year, my coworker Kris loaned me her book Tequila Mockingbird, which is basically a bunch of tongue-in-cheek book title puns paired with recipes for beverages. I read it all the way through, thought it was hilarious, immensely enjoyed the punny titles, and then never actually made anything that was in it.

I have a similar reaction to those cozy mystery series that incorporate recipes into them. They’re almost always about a baker or chef or some other food professional who also solves crime.

Come to think of it, I have never actually read one of those–my devotion to being curious about things and never following through truly has no bounds–but I can’t help but notice them when I am checking them in or filing them away. Without fail, I’ll flip to their recipe index to see what is included. Sometimes, I’m even motivated enough to find the recipe in the book and admire it. But I’ve never been motivated enough to give one of them a try.

That’s not to say that I don’t want to try them. I have occasionally marked recipes in some of these books with every intention of going back and cooking it. But I always inevitably get distracted by something else and only find them again months later. By this point, making them is a lost cause because I usually am not even sure why I marked it to begin with.

In the process of writing this post, I discovered that the internet tells me that there are tons of articles with recipes, even entire meal menus, directly taken from literature or loosely inspired from literature. As with all of my other forays into literary cooking, I read them with interest, thought a lot of it looked quite tasty, and briefly considered trying one or two.

But let’s be honest, I have no real intention of ever making them.

Do you like to cook or eat dishes inspired by literature? What’s your favorite recipe with a book connection? Do you read cookbooks but never actually cook anything in them? How often do you quote Oliver’s favorite line? Are you hungry now? Tell us in the comments!



Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

6 thoughts on “Literary Eats”

  1. One of the best things I love about reading is discovering new foods the characters eat. Being raised in the 70s in rural Arkansas, one can imagine there was not a lot of exotic dishes to be had. I think this is where I got my attitude about trying new foods: the sky (or the ocean, or the land) is the limit! I also have plenty of literary cookbooks: The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, the Cat Who Cookbook, A Taste of Murder, The Great Pumpkin Cookbook, The Sweet Potato Queen’s Big Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner, Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader, The Little House Cookbook, and of course, The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.


  2. I am such a big fan of food and books that I actually have my own blog called, wait for it, So I I found your blog post of great interest and highly entertaining. If you’re interested in another take on the connection between books and food, I’d love your feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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