Days are getting busier and busier with the approaching Holidays and we need to remind ourselves that this is supposed to be a time of Peace and Joy, rather than of Rush and Worry. At the end of a day spent running around, it is nice to settle down in an armchair, in front of a heat source if the temperature outside makes it necessary, a cup of hot tea on a table close by, and a nice book in our hands. This is one of my ideas of luxury.
Whether you already have a reading list, or you are open to receive some suggestions, you will find the following small bites delightful. As it has happened in the previous editions of our event, Lisa of Champaign Taste and I have gathered a set of literary works that have inspired culinary productions. I continue to find it fascinating how we give life to words we read in dishes we cook. It is an act of homage, of making the words become part of our life.
Suzie of Munch + Nibble presents us Heartburn by Nora Ephron. "In it she talks about how, for her, the phases of a love affair are always marked by potatoes."
"In the end, I always want potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Nothing like mashed potatoes when you are feeling blue."
As you may have guessed, Suzie made Mashed Potatoes with Onions and Pine Nuts, a very nice variation on a familiar, beloved theme. Read more about mashed potatoes and feeling on Suzie's blog, plus her recipe, then come back here for the next morsel.
Adele of Tales of the Basil Queen was inspired by a WWI novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque.
"The opening scene takes place at the mess hall. There's an impromptu feast prepared under shellfire. And there is one of the greatest non-romantic love scenes in literature: the roast goose."
Adele made Roast Duck with Apple-Prune Stuffing, not a light undertaking, and served it "with pan gravy, red cabbage, and boiled potatoes." Read more about the wartime feast and Adele's celebration of it, then come back for another bite.
Rachel, The Crispy Cook enjoys reading works by the late Robertson Davies. The first volume of his Deptford trilogy, Fifth Business, begins with a young boys' snowball fight. The game turns ugly when a stone-laden snowball hits a pregnant woman. In the remainder of the book and in the other two volumes of the trilogy, the story of the characters involved in the fateful fight is told.
Rachel brought the fight back into harmless territory, where it should be, by making Popcorn Balls. Read more about the book and the recipe for the edible white balls, then retrace your steps: there is some more food to taste.
Paz of The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz, goes back to one of her favorite romance stories, Crush by Crystal Hubbard.
"It’s about a heart throb rock star who rescues a headstrong girl from a near fatal accident at his concert and they fall in love. The heroine is half Brazilian and she mentions her Brazilian grandmother’s cooking and several Brazilian dishes through the book."
The Brazilian Carrot Cake Paz made was inspired by the book and also by the desire to celebrate some good news regarding its author. Read all about it, then come back: there is a bit more.
Reading again the novella False Dawn by Edith Wharton made me want to help assuage its protagonist's hunger for the food on the table of his family's house. Lewis Raycie travels across Europe, and while his aesthetic cravings are amply satisfied, his physical ones are not.
I focused my attention on the "piping hot corn-bread and deep golden butter" mentioned as part of the description of the sumptuous table, and that resulted in the production of burro fatto in casa (homemade butter) and Buttermilk Cornbread. Go and come back for the last piece.
My partner Lisa's contribution to this edition of our event was inspired by the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup, the story, set in Mumbai, of a teenager, who wins a billion rupees on a game show and gets into unforeseen trouble.
When you visit Lisa at Champaign Taste, you will read the passage in the novel that made her prepare Pav Bhaji (Indian Mixed Vegetables).
And in the same location, you will also find another set of literary and culinary amuse-bouches to delight you. Thanks, Lisa!
I hope you enjoyed our literary/culinary party, the company and the suggestions for reading, cooking and/or gifting. Our event will be back next year, most probably with a slightly different schedule: stay tuned for the announcement. In the meantime, read a book, cook a dish, smile, be peaceful and joyful.