Spring has sprung, or fall has brought cooler temperatures, depending on your hemisphere of residence. In any case, another season is at the door, bringing its special gifts. Novel Food, the literary/culinary event Lisa of Champaign Taste and I started last year, strives to provide nourishment for the body and for the mind in the guise of literary works that inspired the preparation of dishes.
Each contribution is a short trip into a literary world that is made more pleasant by edible morsels. Lisa and I had fun receiving the submissions, reading intriguing stories and delicious recipes. Now we are sharing the fun with all of you. Sit down, relax, and enjoy the journey.
We start with a visit to the land of fairy tales, in the company of Maryann from Finding La Dolce Vita.
In her rendition of Brother Grimms' Little Red Riding Hood, the protagonist carries an adorable Amuse Buche Parmesan Basket to her grandmother. Maryann suggests an alternative development for the story after the wolf's fateful question. But I don't want to spoil the surprise: read Maryann's reasoning, then come back here for the next leg of the trip.
At our next stop we meet Kay of Kitchen Jouissance, who recommends reading J.D. Salinger's short story A Perfect Day for Bananafish "whenever you feel the need to have your reason for being alive reaffirmed." The powerful story inspired Kay to make really pretty Bananafish Cookies. Her post includes several reading suggestions, besides her impassioned argument in support of Salinger's story: navigate there, read it, then come back here for more.
We now travel to Australia to meet Lucy of Nourish Me, who introduces us to "Barbara Trapido, a South African born novelist whose small output is as impressive and enjoyable as it is addictive." From this output, Lucy has chosen the novel Juggling, in which "food offers insightful portraits."
The novel inspired Lucy to make Autumnal Tarts, aka Roasted Pear and Rocket Tarts, for which she used several interesting ingredients, including previously unknown to me labneh. Read why Lucy calls her tarts "an offal-free seduction," look at a photo of labneh, then return here for the next installment.
At our next stop SilverMoon from Dragon Musings introduces us to Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler, an interesting character, whose abilities with "bits of an animal" are described in Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures.
CMOT Dibbler inspired the preparation of CMOT Dibbler's Sausages Inna Bun for a tasty dinner that included variations for the mustard-averse and that met with family's approval. Read more about CMOT Dibbler, the sausages and the buns, then come back here to continue the journey.
Judith's foodie bookshelf, over at Shortcut to Mushrooms, includes Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires. In it, the author "waxes poetic about several risottos and is very insistent on how difficult it is to get that creamy texture but retain the proper bite." Judith takes up the challenge and decides to make Risotto with Shitake Mushrooms and Leeks using the microwave. Besides the recipe, Judith provides a review of the book and The Bottom Line. To find out what that is, visit her blog, then come back here, because there is more to come.
We now follow Indigo of Happy Love Strawberry in her quest for the recipe for lembas. I did not use the word quest by chance, but as a reference to the world of J.J.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
Finding a good (i.e., edible) recipe for the Elf waybread turned out to be a bit of an adventure and you want to read about it and about the outcome (though Indigo considers her quest still ongoing). Try not to get lost in Middle Earth, because our journey has not yet ended. I'll be waiting for you here.
In any case, we will linger in a magic place for a little longer, thanks to Mary of Shazam in the Kitchen, who, out of all the books she has read so far this year, has been particularly enchanted by The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is the story of two children who can get everything they want, except someone who is willing to spend time with them. The two lonely children meet another child and they spend time in a secret garden. For them, Mary has made Secret Garden Cupcakes (aka Lavender Cardamom Cupcakes). At this point, I suggest you go over to Mary's blog to read the rest, then come back for the next stop.
Susan, The Well-Seasoned Cook, describes with the following incisive words Graham Greene's powerful novel The End of the Affair: "is a disquietingly painful and complex portrayal of three souls whose trajectory is as layered and pungent as an onion."
Onions are mentioned in the scene that sees the start of the affair, and they inspired Susan to offer us a Super-Simple Pearl Onion Salad. Go over to her blog, read about this moving story, then come back here for another morsel.
Sara of heaven on earth offers us an amusing exchange between Isabel Archer and her cousin Ralph Touchett, from Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James. Isabel announces to Ralph that she will have dinner by herself. I won't tell you everything that occurs between the two of them, only that the planned menu for her dinner is "two poached eggs and a muffin." Sara, then, decided to make (English) Muffins for Isabel. To learn the details, visit Sara's blog then return here to proceed to the last stop.
Venezia is the destination of the last leg of the trip. There, we see commissario Brunetti, the protagonist of Donna Leon's Death at La Fenice, relax at home with his wife and make himself a hot caffelatte in which he gleefully dunks biscotti. I used to indulge in the same treat for breakfast. How reading about Brunetti's dunking translates into a recipe for biscotti is something you can read after following the link. When you are done, make sure you come back here for some parting words and further directions.
I hope you enjoyed our literary/culinary trip with its suggestions for reading and for cooking. Our event will be back next season: stay tuned for the announcement that will be published in about two months'.
If you started the journey into the third edition of Novel Food here, make sure you travel to Lisa's blog, where her portion of the roundup is waiting to welcome you on board for the other half of the tour.
For her part, Lisa will transport you to Sicily and introduce you to another commissario, Salvo Montalbano, and to his eating habits, which include snacking on calia e simenza. Have a pleasant journey: we hope to see you again next season.