About a month ago, Lisa of Champaign Taste and I announced another edition of Novel Food, the literary/culinary event that we created a few seasons ago, as we were exchanging messages about the novels, whose protagonist is Inspector Montalbano. Readers of those novels relish not only the distinctive style the Sicilian police inspector brings to his job, but also his passion for good food.
Montalbano-inspired kitchen adventures are a well-known phenomenon (as exemplified here and here). Novel Food expands on this idea of a literary work that suggests the making of a dish. Like its predecessors, the current edition showcases an interesting set of both readables and edibles. Please, take the time to savor a small bite of both for each contribution. I hope you will be inspired to read, to cook, to smile.
The first course comes from Mar of Baixa Gastronomia, who was inspired by a comic book series: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen "turned the superhero genre onto its head and drenched it in both poetry and reality while asking some very deep questions about the human condition."
Mar turned one of the icons of the story, the bleeding smiley, into a nice Watchmen cake (English synopsis follows original Catalan). On the yellow icing, the smile is made of chocolate and the blood stain of strawberry sauce.
We continue with Astrofiammante of Mangiare è un pò come viaggiare (Eating is a bit like traveling), who was inspired by Una fiesta mobile. A tavola (e sotto il tavolo) con Ernest Hemingway (A Movable Feast. At (and under) the table with Ernest Hemingway) by Gail McDowell, a biography of the famous author that pays particular attention to what he liked to eat and drink.
In the novel A Farewell to Arms, the protagonist, Lt. Frederic Henry, eats Black bread pudding and hard sauce. Astro decided to forgo the hard sauce in favor of a lighter one, made with peach jam diluted with a bit of liqueur and water.
Paz of The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz enjoyed reading the novel A La Carte by Tanita S. Davis. The protagonist, Lainey, "is a 17-year-old high school student who loves to cook. She wants to become a famous chef, with her own cooking show, and has chosen Julia Child as her patron saint."
The book includes several handwritten recipes from Lainey's notebook, like the inspiring "Perfectly Hard-Boiled" Egg Salad by Saint Julia.
Adele of Tales of the Basil Queen leads us to the fairy world of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, which is rich in food references, like that to the picnic Rat has prepared and invites Mole to share: "There's cold chicken inside it," replied the Rat briefly: "coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrolls- cresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—"
From this mouthful, Adele extracted Egg and Cress Sandwiches. The weather kept her inside, but "the legitimate picnic will follow as soon as the weather becomes more reliable."
Sandi of Whistlestop Cafe Cooking introduces us to another story by Fannie Flagg: Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, where the author "manages once again to weave a story like a southern patchwork quilt."
The recipe featured by Sandi comes from "the lady with the smile in her voice, your neighbor and mine...Neighbor Dorothy," who hosts the local radio show: Neighbor Dorothy's Heavenly Caramel Cake.
The menu continues with Martha and Abby of O-ink, who bring us comfort food in the guise of Pasta e patate (pasta and potatoes, English translation follows original Italian) inspired by the novel Il giorno prima della felicità (The Day Before Happiness) by Erri De Luca.
The protagonist offers a plate of pastepatate to another character, together with a difficult piece of news. Of the food on his plate, the recipient says: "Don Gaetano the pasta and potatoes you make has no rival." It is a simple, comforting dish.
Jessica of A Singleton in the Kitchen found inspiration in Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. "I'm going to have a good time today and eat as much as I please," is Scarlett's response to the tradition of eating before a barbecue so as to appear dainty and ladylike.
Digging a pit in the backyard and slowly roast a pig is a bit complicated, so Jessica unleashed her creativity to make Faux Pulled Pork using the oven at low temperature and the patience to wait a rather long time. Her patience was rewarded.
Simona of briciole (that would be me) went to the theater to see a musical (High Spirits) and was inspired to read the play on which it is based, Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward. That led to the making of tartine for one of the characters, a medium with an Italian sounding name: Madame Arcati.
But before the preparation of tartine there was the making of oatmeal bread over which to deposit toppings like Colby cheese, ricotta and blueberry jam (all homemade).
My event partner Lisa of Champaign Taste contributed pizza to this edition of our event. She was inspired by the novel Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell, the first of the Kay Scarpetta mysteries. The novel's protagonist cooks to unwind and though Italian cuisine isn't her only love, it has always been what she does best.
And then she makes pizza and Lisa did the same, topping her crust with tomatoes, vegetables, ham and cheese. After reading about Lisa's pizza adventure, you can enjoy another set of literary and culinary offerings. Thanks, Lisa!
I hope you enjoyed our menu, the company and the suggestions for reading and for cooking. The next edition of our event will be later in the year: as usual, we will announce it on our blogs and on other venues, so stay tuned. In the meantime, read a book, cook a dish, smile, be peaceful and joyful.
It is Charles Condomine the character who ends Blithe Spirit with these words:
Good-bye again—parting is such sweet sorrow.
Thanks to Susan for pointing out that Condomine is quoting Shakespeare's Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2):
Sweet, so would I:
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
I will also say "good night till it be morrow."