Welcome to the roundup of the 23rd edition of Novel Food, the literary/culinary event that Lisa of Champaign Taste and I created in 2007 and that I continue to host with great pleasure, as it brings together two of my passions: literature and food. Novel Food is about literary works (prose or poetry) that inspire the preparation of dishes.
Like all its predecessors, the current edition includes a lovely set of posts, each describing a literary work that the blogger read and the dish that the reading inspired. Please, follow me on a short literary/culinary tour. For each contribution, I will offer a small bite to whet your appetite for more: follow the link to read the details of the special connection between written word and food that each participant has created.
Thanks to fellow book & cook enthusiasts, every edition of Novel Food brings new and interesting titles to my to-read list and delectable recipes to my to-cook list. I hope it does the same to you.
"The premise of the story is... teens are competing to win a spot at a prestigious school that broadcasts the daily lives of the artsy students. Part of the deal, though, is that the students who make it through the competition have to sleep for 12 hours at night in pods, via sleeping pill. Enter our main character: Rosie. One night Rosie decides to fake taking her sleeping pill and stays up just to watch the stars..."
"What a great and inventive collection of stories. I was hooked from the start... I love the creativity of the author and her ability to paint such interesting and provocative images with her words... I took inspiration from two favorite stories, combining the mimosas enjoyed between friends in Orchids and a diner breakfast staple of sunny-side-up eggs from Storybag."
"The protagonist... spends a good deal of time wondering where his next meal is going to come from. Gratitude for a square meal is an emotion that pops up frequently throughout the story. When I asked for a night’s lodging, she said I was welcome to a 'bed in the loft' and very soon she set before me a hearty meal of ham and eggs, scones, and thick sweet milk. Scones! One of my favourite bakes. But I wanted properly Scottish ones..."
"The narrator... lives in a shack near iDEATH and tells us of his life in a place where many things are made of watermelon sugar and the sun shines a different colour every day. I'm wondering what the people who lived at iDEATH would make of iPhones and the iPlayer. I like to think that Mr Brautigan would be amused but sadly he left us in the 1980s... I've certainly never forgotten Al and his carrots."
Inspired by Simonetta Agnello Hornby's Il pranzo di Mosè (Moses' Lunch), Lucia of Torta di rose prepared Sofficina Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Caramelized Pistachios
"The book is the story of the 19th-century farm where the author and her family spent their summer vacation. Guests were welcomed with their serious and fun stories... about Sicilian food products and traditional family recipes." The author's mother observed her guests "at the table and tried to understand their tastes, then at the moment of farewell she offered farm products, such as olive oil, almonds, cheese, fresh vegetables or herbs."
"A woman moves to a small village to look after her elderly aunt, who runs the local sweetshop. She ends up learning a lot about her aunt, and herself - and sweets! Each chapter of the book begins with either a recipe or a passage from her aunt's notebook about a particular type of sweet and there is one chapter which begins with a passage on peanut brittle. So that was also partly what inspired me to make this recipe..."
"I admire Reichl... I admire the way she jumped at the chance to become a food writer and restaurant critic... I admire her gumption and ability to live life to the fullest, even when that gets her into trouble. You know that quintessential party-conversation-starting question, 'If you could invite any person, living or dead, to your dinner party, who would it be? My answer is simple: I would love to have dinner with Ruth Reichl."
"For that night, I tried to make food that was predominately from Tuscany, where the book was based. In doing my research for the menu, I found that food from Tuscany has a reputation for being nourishing, plain and simple, and beans are used extensively. I decided on a Bean Soup." She first made a gluten-free version and then a vegetarian one, both comforting in the cold weather experienced in her area.
"No husband was hurt in the making of this pasta. Blinding here is used in the sense of dazzling. Cecare is a dialectal form of the verb accecare. Mariti is the plural of marito, husband. In the book there is a good amount of one person trying to dazzle another (not necessarily a husband)... I remembered seeing an entry for cecamariti in the Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini De Vita: it was time to learn more."
The collection of black and white strips reads like a collection of short-short stories simple on the surface, yet haunting... The black and white world in which Julius Knipl moves made me want to cook something along the same color lines, yet unusual. I have a package of ceci neri (black chickpeas) from Italy (Puglia, to be precise) and decided to make a soup with them.
My special "thank you!" goes to the event's participants: I hope you had as much fun as I always do when I host this event. You will find a link to this roundup and to those of the earlier editions on this page.
The next edition of Novel Food will be in the summer: I will announce it here, on The Food Blog Diary, and other venues, so stay tuned. The Food Blog Diary is the lovely event announcement site created and maintained by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes. Visit the site to read about current events and 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.