About a month ago, Lisa of Champaign Taste and I announced the 12th edition of Novel Food, the literary/culinary event that we created in 2007, following a lively exchange of messages about the novels, whose protagonist is Salvo Montalbano, a Sicilian police inspector with a passion for good food. Since Montalbano's creator, Andrea Camilleri, keeps writing novels that have him as protagonist, as American poet Stephen Sartarelli keeps translating them, our conversations on the subject continue. If you are curious, you can pick up a copy of The Shape of Water, the first novel in the series, and see if you like it (if you follow the link to google books, you will be able to read excerpts of the novel). I am hoping that the movies made based on most of the novels and some of the short stories will be available soon for rental in this country: I have seen the originals and they are a treat.
Back to our main feature: Novel Food is about literary works (prose or poetry) that inspire the preparation of dishes. Like all its predecessors, the current edition of the event includes an interesting set of readables and edibles, of which I will introduce half. Please, follow me on a short literary/culinary tour. At the end, I will give you directions to reach the other half of the roundup, brought to you by my co-host, Lisa.
A sequel to Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast, the novel is "a continuation of the adventures of Hector, Virgil and their circle of friends, punctuated by recipes, recommended book lists, many verses of bad poetry and letters from guests who have stayed at their B&B." Inspired from one such letter, Rachel tried to find a recipe for Double Snackers and when that failed to materialize, she created her own version: a savory kind of sandwich cookie, "salty, crispy, but also gooey. And cheesy." Rachel's post contains more information on the book and, of course, her recipe for Double Snackers.
In Allende’s words, Aphrodite is a "journey through the regions of sensual memory, in which the boundaries between love and appetite are so diffuse that at times they evaporate completely.” The author writes that once she had a dream where she was diving into a pool filled with her favorite dessert, rice pudding: "I dived in, and that delicious creaminess caressed my skin, slipped into all the crevices of my body, and filled my mouth." Ana prepared Arroz doce the way her grandmother used to: creamy and eggless, decorated with cinnamon. Follow the link to Ana's post to get the delicious recipe.
A flawless dinner party is followed by a famous soprano's performance but the evening ends with the guests being taken hostages. The dinner menu becomes a distant memory amid wrapped sandwiches and prepared casseroles. Yet a slice of dark cake is important for Gen, the interpreter, and since it is not clear from the book whether he ever got to eat it, after he had to set aside his meal to do some translation, Adele decided to console him with a cake especially baked for him. Take your time to read Adele's post where she sets the stage for the grand entrance of her cake and shares her recipe.
"A Painful Case” is a story about isolation: Mrs. Sinico, a married woman who feels unfulfilled and is neglected by her husband, and Mr. Duffy, a bank cashier who leads a solitary and meticulously orderly life, develop a deep friendship. Then events take a wrong turn and a few years later, during a solitary dinner "as he was about to put a morsel of corned beef and cabbage into his mouth his hand stopped." You will learn more about Mr. Duffy's epiphany when you read Ana's post, where you can also get detailed instruction on how to make corned beef and cabbage with beets (St. Patrick's Day being not too fat into the future provides another reason to get acquainted with this recipe).
The book tells the story of a flour mill and of the Monastery of San Giorgio (in Bardolino, Italy) and the Monastic community of Camaldoli. The story of the mill and of its owners starts in the 9th century. The mill continued to work for over a thousand years, until the beginning of WWII, so the story is rich in events and people. "Stories of birth, death, love stories, quarrels, war and peace" at the heart of which there is the flour mill. Brii's post has the recipe for the whole-wheat bread in the photo and the story of how she started to bake bread at home.
Once you've done your stirring and your waiting and your thinking and the time is right, there is a single moment, and I'm not messing with you here, there is one single moment when it all comes together and you realize that your milk is gone and your cheese is on its way.
One of the protagonists of the novel shares nuggets of wisdom about making cheese at the beginning of each chapter. Two young people are expected to fall in love, but they resist. The demands and joys of cheese making as background to a few other stories populated by a lively set of characters. Read Simona's post to get more details about this modern fairy tale and the cheese whose making it inspired.
Hattie Kong, the novel's narrator, is half Chinese and half American. Born and raised in China, she was sent to live with her mother's family in Iowa as a teenager, when her home in China was threatened by war. Now in her late sixties, Hatties befriends a family originally from Cambodia. "This is a big, complex novel filled with fascinating, engaging characters and lots of humor, despite the losses and the tragedies." Lisa's post describes making one of the foods Hattie missed from China.
You have not one, but two reasons to go over to Lisa's blog now: to read the details of her submission for the event, and to enjoy her portion of the roundup. Many thanks to all who contributed to our event and to my partner Lisa.
The next edition of our event will be in three months or so: we will announce it on our blogs and social network pages and also on The Food Blog Diary and Is My Blog Burning?, so stay tuned. The Food Blog Diary is the lovely event announcement site created and maintained by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes. Let her know about your event and she will post it on her well-organized site. Thank you, Jacqueline!
In the meantime, read good books (maybe with the next Novel Food in mind), cook good dishes, and otherwise savor life's local and seasonal offerings. Spring is only a few weeks away. Arrivederci!