Welcome to the roundup of the 32nd edition of Novel Food, the literary/culinary event that Lisa of Champaign Taste and I created in 2007. Novel Food is about literary works (prose or poetry) that inspire the preparation of dishes. I continue to host this event with great pleasure, as it brings together two of my passions: literature and food. Every edition delivers a great reading list and a lovely set of recipes.
Book-loving food bloggers have contributed 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 February-March edition, which ends tomorrow, we read The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie and for the next edition (April-May) we will read Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop (more information at the end of this post) and we have already selected the next three books.
"A novel and fine allegory on mending things rather than throwing them out... the big family get together was at the State Fair, where of course, pumpkins are displayed, usually monstrous prize-winners . And then I ran into this beautiful, though wee specimen. Couldn't resist taking him home. And finding a good recipe to stuff the little prize with... Basically, you cut the top out, layer in your stuffing of bread, cream, cheese, etc., set the top back on and roast it. Pretty simple and easy, with delicious results."
"Runcie’s premise is clever and I started out loving the book. The author began losing me a bit after the 'invention of Sachertorte'. Then there was the tragic and ludicrous invention of the Hershey Kiss... I decided to experiment and make some bourbon infused cranberries and douse them in chocolate. I couldn’t help but be inspired by the Marquis de Sade’s raspberry liqueur creams as well as all the different liqueur combinations that Diego creates... I used the leftover bourbon for a cocktail."
Debra also read Lemons are a Girl's Best Friends by Janet Hayward
and made for herself an Almond Breakfast Smoothie
"What a cute little book. Literally, it fits in the palm of your hand, such a petite book to house such a plethora of information. Who knew there were so many 'super foods'?... Seriously good stuff here. I don’t know which recipes that I’m more excited about, the outside or inside ones. I decided to try out one of her smoothie recipes to get my insides happy... Hayward’s version is creamy and delicious. The almond butter and the oats just add a little something to the texture."
"Once Botille started telling her story, I couldn't stop reading the . And then the food references started and I was completely hooked... This story takes place in between the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, and gives us a glimpse into how the Inquisition worked... There were two food items that really called my name, but the onions (Botille is famous for her onions) lost because I've made a couple of baked onion recipes before, but I've never made fogasa before and knew I needed to try.
"In mole, chocolate is a transforming ingredient, lending a hint of sweetness, a silky fullness, spice and complexity to its dinner partner, which can be chicken, turkey or other meats... Diego discovers mole during his first experience in Mexico... [Ignacia's] mole poblano began with rehydrated dried dark chiles, vanilla, star anise and chocolate. Diego says that 'she made me inhale each spice before its inclusion in the mole'... Chefs today claim that choosing the right chocolate is the key to success in making mole."
"Elena accepts the offer to take care of two children whose mother recently died... Providing nutritious and varied meals that the children enjoy is a source of concern for Elena and sometimes, focused on ensuring that they are engaged in interesting activities, she ends up having to make do with what's available in the refrigerator... I don't have two children to feed, so the challenge to create a dish with what I have available is more driven by the fact that I have an assortment of vegetables in the crisper that I must consume. For all my trust in, and reliance on, recipes (usually my own), I also believe in serendipitous mixing of ingredients to produce a pleasant result."
"Drinking a special concoction [Ignacia] prepares for [Diego] makes him immortal, which allows the novel to span centuries and continents, following Diego's adventures and the fortunes of cacao beans and chocolate... Having decided to make mole poblano, the question became: which recipe?... I chose a middle ground closer to the hard way... which meant a somewhat lengthy preparation using 25 ingredients." The result made the effort so worthwhile, Simona made mole poblano twice more.
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 are only two days left to participate in the February-March edition for which we are reading The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie, then sharing reviews and recipes. (Follow the link to the website: the current selection is posted on the home page.) If you miss it, don't despair: there are four great selections lined up and you can discover them in this post.
The next edition of Novel Food will be in late spring: 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.