Favorite Pairings from
Food and Literature Bloggers
Bryton Taylor, Perth, Australia
Food in Literature
“I create recipes inspired by novels and children’s books. While I create recipes from classics like Pride and Prejudice, I tend to place heavier emphasis on children’s literature. They provide more flexibility to be creative.”
Inspiration: “It was a long round-about process of blogging about everything at first. But the one event I can pinpoint is an Alice in Wonderland Easter brunch. I attempted the Unbirthday cake… and it was a total flop! It was my first time decorating a cake, so my chances of creating a masterpiece were pretty slim. So I tried again, wrote a step by step post, and Food in Literature began.”
Main meal: “Roasted Pork Parcels with Chestnut and Truffle Stuffing, finished with plum sauce (inspired by Game of Thrones) is an absolute favorite of mine.”
Sweet: “Mrs. Weasley’s English Toffee (Harry Potter) is quickly polished off.”
Cocktail: “Midnight Margaritas for Practical Magic.”
Most Creative: “Wonka recipes are my most creative (like the Marshmallow Pillow), but my Kraken Rum Cake, inspired by the pirates’ love of rum in Treasure Island is a popular one.”
Especially for book clubs: “For a book club, it’s a balance of getting a recipe that reflects the book, one where you aren’t slaving away in the kitchen for hours and where it transports and serves easily. A few picks are Tortafrom The Historian, Gumbo for Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, or Vegetarian Spring Rolls from Artemis Fowl.”
Amina Elahi, Chicago, Illinois
“Paper/Plates is a blog for readers with good taste. We pair recipes with book recommendations and share other food for thought.”
Inspiration: “I’d been writing about books for a while and was growing more interested in food at the same time. I realized these two passions would play well together so I decided to throw in a third favorite activity — writing — and share my ideas with others.”
Favorite pairings: “Marisha Pessl’s Night Film was chilling but kept me on edge, so I paired it with Coffee Ice Pops.
“The apple-walnut fritters I made for Aminatta Forna’s The Hired Man were also really special. I went all out for Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore with Oatmeal Two Ways.”
Most creative: “Most of our pairings actually don’t feature foods straight from the book. In fact, we try to create dishes inspired by themes, scenes or even characters. Saniya, a contributor, created a really fun one for Ian McEwan’sSweet Tooth: for a book about lies and deception, she made Disappearing Marshmallow Puffs.”
Especially for book clubs: “I recently started a virtual book club where I’m sharing menu ideas and discussion questions. For example, the Plum Crostata made for Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You is a perfect dish around which to build a menu for that lovely book.”
Tina Culbertson, North Florida
“A combination of book reviews and recipes with the occasional movie review tossed in the mix.”
Inspiration: “I started Novel Meals as a fun outlet for the book nerd side of me, pairing food with the books I read and review. Since I was a kid I loved to write and read and have been journaling for ages. This is an electronic journal and fun outlet for me.”
Favorite pairings: “For The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin,
Semi-Dry Tomatoes and Mozzarella Salad. We enjoyed this with wine, roasted root vegetables and a roasted chicken.”
“Rachel Joyce novel, Perfect: Mushroom Vol-au-Vent as an appetizer.”
“Gone Girl provided me with incentive to make Chicken Frito Pie. It was delicious!”
Especially for book clubs: “The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman and any of Peter Robinson’s mysteries featuring DCI Alan Banks, including Innocent Graves, and Wednesday’s Child. Also, Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin.”
“Briciole (“crumbs” in Italian) reflects my desire to explore: I am inspired by local produce and by the traditions of my home country, Italy, especially handmade pasta. Most of my posts include an audio file where I pronounce Italian words mentioned in the post.”
Inspiration: “I have been a bookworm ever since I learned to read and went to get a degree in literature. Books are an important part of my life, so it is not surprising that they inspire me in the kitchen.”
“Novel Food Collection that I host three times a year was inspired by the mystery novels by Sicilian author Andrea Camilleri. The stories are so rich in food references that they make you want to cook.
“I am also a co-host (with three other bloggers) of the Cook the Books Club, a
bi-monthly reading club that brings together literature and cooking.”
Favorite pairings: “I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s experience in Italy as told in the Eat section of Eat, Pray, Love. She writes insightfully about Italy and Italians. The paragraph where she talks about soccer fans eating Cream Puffs after their team lost prompted me to make a batch of them.
“I make cheese at home, so when someone recommended the novel Blessed are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch, I read it right away and it inspired me to make French Neufchâtel, a type of mold-ripened cheese.
“The SPQR novels by John Maddox Roberts set in ancient Rome include descriptions of dinners and banquets. I read the first two and they inspired me to do some research into recipes from that time. I made Carrots with Cumin Sauce, a dish that pleasantly surprised me.
Most creative: “I was moved by the story told in The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. The main character is Joe Rantz, who overcame great odds to attend attend the University of Washington where he rowed on the crew team. Joe was always hungry and the descripton of Joe’s craving for a home to go back to at the end of the day made me want to prepare something flavorful, filling and nutritious, like Focaccia.”
Especially for book clubs: “Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano is an unforgettable character not only for his style in doing his difficult work but also for his take on life, including his relationship with food. I have written several posts inspired by the novels, including one that talks about the very first one, The Shape of Water. Each of the novels contains references to traditional Sicilian recipes. Montalbano likes to eat, but is not a cook.
“The novels by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán featuring Pepe Carvalho, a private detective based in Barcelona, are also rich in food references. Unlike Salvo Montalbano, Carvalho is a cook. In the first novel of the series, Tattoo, there is a passage describing him making Caldeirada, a Portuguese fish stew. I made this caldeirada based on that passage.
“Of a different flavor are the books by M.F.K. Fisher. My favorite among them is How to Cook a Wolf (1942), described by James Beard as ‘her brilliant approach to wartime economies for the table.. ‘part memoir, part commentary on events and ideas of the time, part cookbook.'”