Welcome to the roundup of the 30th 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.
Below I present a set of lovely 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.
Besides hosting Novel Food on my blog, I co-host Cook the Books, a blog dedicated to reading and cooking. For the June-July edition we are reading Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen (more information at the end of this post) and we have already selected the next four books.
"Alexander McCall Smith is one of my very favorite authors, with his wonderful #1 Ladies' Detective Agency, 44 Scotland St., and The Sunday Philosophy Club series, among others. I love the thoughtful, meandering, and philosophical way he goes from social issues to random thought, with abundant wit and large helpings of wisdom, whilst drawing delightful portraits of the various characters and settings. People hold actual, interesting conversations. Without recourse to Smartphones. When Angus accidentally falls from a window, there is an entire humorous chapter on Scottish Defenestrations."
"If you love historical fiction, you will love this book. If you think historical fiction is boring, I still think you will love this book as it reads just as much as a suspense novel as it does as a historical. If you like books with strong female characters and relationships, you will love this book... Both sandwiches and baguettes were mentioned several times... I was on board with the soft goat cheese, but since I don't eat meat, I decided to fill my sandwich with zucchini, sauteed in lemon-pepper and olive oil, sliced Roma tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves. I also wanted to make an herbed goat cheese to make my sandwich pop with flavor.
Reichl's "latest work... deals with that unexpected demise of Gourmet and how she found herself unemployed and drifting. That she felt a little unmoored is an understatement. Her kitchen saved her... The book is divided into seasons and starts with the early fall, as soon as Reichl is called to the Conde Nast offices and told of Gourmet‘s immediate dissolution... since it is now the growing season, I was drawn to her spring and summer menus and musings. I did notice, though, as spring arrives and she finds a new life direction (writing said cookbook), her prose becomes more succinct and sometimes are mere recipe headnotes for her new cookbook dream.
"In addition to running a great tea shop, Theodosia employees a spectacular baking chef named Haley, who keeps whipping up the most divine scones. Between scones and tea, I couldn’t help eyeing my lovely chamomile crop out in the garden and thinking, hmm, what could I make? These chamomile tea scones are light and fruity. They make use of the whole chamomile flower, and if you are like me, and a bit too lazy to dry them for tea, make great use of an edible flower. Plus, they would be great being served aside a cup of tea – chamomile or other."
"Whether you have visited Iceland or not, you can immerse yourself in the detailed descriptions of life in the farm, of the inner life of a boy growing up in a fairly intense environment (northern climate, relative isolation) as he finds his place in a world that is a blend of concrete daily physical tasks and intangible presences. Such life is not always idyllic, which is something I appreciate about the book: the author captures the sense of wonder he experienced as a child, but considers some of his experiences through the lens of his maturity."
"Von Bremzen describes her and her family's life in the context of the political changes in Russia, the Soviet Union, then Russia again. Her style of writing is engaging — with the right balance of humor and seriousness. The food she describes is intriguing: even when we don't feel like we want to taste it, the emotional context comes alive in her words... One dish caught my attention immediately: Salat iz Yaits i Gribov. It uses mayonnaise, a condiment that has a special place in Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking."
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 all the earlier editions on this page.
And if you are looking for additional reading suggestions, head over to the Cook the Books website. There is still time to participate in the June-July edition for which we are reading Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen, then sharing reviews and recipes.
The next edition of Novel Food will be in late summer: stay tuned for the announcement. In the meantime, read good books (maybe with the next Novel Food in mind), cook good dishes, enjoy good food and otherwise savor life's local and seasonal offerings.