The 41st edition of Novel Food is ending with the customary roundup. I have been hosting the event for over 13 years and it's been a constant pleasure. This time we'll have a small party still rich in reading suggestions.
Each post contributed by a book-loving food blogger describes a work of written words and the dish that the reading inspired. Join me on a literary/culinary tour. For each contribution, I offer a small bite to whet your appetite: follow the link to read the details of the literary work and the dish each participant describes. We hope you'll be inspired in your reading and in your kitchen.
"All of the stories revolve around changing environment and the fate of the planet and I imagine it could be classified as science fiction. But it is not a depressing book even though the Earth implodes during the first tale. That sense of hope is honestly prevalent... None of the stories revolved around food in any way so that made my food pairing for this book a bit tough. I went back to The Love of a Dandelion: 'When we discover the love of a dandelion and have compassion for even the sun, we will arrive at these truths.' The hope and vision the young boy has in the tale continued to make me want to highlight this story."
Debra also read Where I Come From by chef Aarón Sánchez
and made Tio Mario’s Famous Chile Con Carne Colorado-Style Burritos
"Sánchez doesn’t romanticize the trials and tribulations of working in and owning restaurants or his Food Network celebrity rise... I also appreciated his honest narration. Not pulling any punches he lays it all out there—failed restaurants and failed relationships alike... Sánchez is honest about his cooking, his choices, and his personal life (and relationship with his mother)... Uncle Tio’s recipe uses three kinds of dried chiles (Arbol, Guajillo, and Ancho) and a slow braising process. I learned something from Sánchez’s recipe: only sear the meat on one side to help it stay more tender in the braise. Did not know that. These were delicious. Even though it was an afternoon process, it’s worth it."
Debra went back to her copy of Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
and made a Roasted Vegetable Frittata
"'Very Full Tart' [is] full of roasted vegetables and Mediterranean goodness. Here’s the problem, I didn’t want to make a pastry crust... So instead of a tart, I decided I would make a crustless version, hence the 'frittata' title to this recipe... This is a great brunch dish as well and leftovers keep well for a couple of days. I also think you could throw in whatever vegetables you have on hand like summer squash. Japanese eggplants would definitely work as well... The book is divided into almost every kind of vegetable there is from Roots to Leaves... The photographs are tremendous."
"Even though our public libraries are still not open for walk-in browsing, there is still a way to peruse the new books... During a recent visit, I spotted my title book in the window, and immediately checked it out... One of the characters, Angus, is out walking with his dog, Cyril, when Cyril runs off into the bushes and makes a great discovery... a Neanderthal skull!... A representative from the Department of Neanderthal Affairs, Dr. Colquohoun, has agreed to come over and verify the authenticity of the skull. In honor of his visit, Angus makes his famous cheddar cheese scone, liberally laced with cayenne pepper... To find out what the outcome was, you’ll have to read the novel."
"I love P.D. James's novels: her writing is evocative, exact, engaging. I particularly enjoy her descriptions of landscapes and interiors. James's descriptive skills are in full display in The Lighthouse which is set in the (fictional) Combe Island off the Cornish coast 'a restful haven for the elite'. The immediate reason for Dalgliesh's presence on Combe is the violent death of a famous novelist, Nathan Oliver...What inspired me are various occasions in the story where characters come together: there are beverages (wine or tea), but never a bite to eat. I wanted to enter the story and bring a tray with foods, like a spread with crackers."
Simona also read Where I Come From by chef Aarón Sánchez
and prepared Red beet, avocado, blood orange and daikon salad
"I didn't know [Sánchez] before reading the book, but a few pages into it, I realized a few year ago I had met his mother, Zarela Martinez. She had been described to me as the chef who introduced Mexican cuisine to New York. It was interesting to read her story told by her son: what an amazing woman!... A few recipes [of Mexican salads] I found online made me draw up a list of ingredients: red beets, avocado, oranges and jicama. I couldn't find the latter, so I used daikon instead and was introduced to red and purple daikon, which are sold alongside their more famous white relative."
My special "thank you!" to the event's contributors: I hope you enjoyed participating as I do hosting the event.
You will find a link to this roundup and to those of all the earlier editions on this page. If you are looking for additional reading suggestions, head over to the Cook the Books Club website. For the April-May edition we are reading Honeysuckle Season by Mary Ellen Taylor.
The next edition of Novel Food will be in the summer: stay tuned for the announcement. In the meantime, take good care of yourself, your loved ones and your fellow citizens, read good books (maybe with the next Novel Food in mind), cook good dishes, and savor life's flow in its myriad expressions.