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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Eating What You Read: Food from Fiction

The Chronicles of Narnia alongside HazerBaba Turkish Delight

I have a little obsession to share--making food from fiction.  Reading and cooking are two things I've liked for a long time and it seems only natural to put them together.  Even as a kid, I would find myself wanting to eat what the characters in the books I was reading ate.

The Turkish Delight from the Narnia books probably tops every one's list for memorable food from fiction, but there are plenty of others too.  In addition to Turkish Delight, I found myself wanting to eat the tuna sandwich described at the beginning of A Wrinkle in Time, the wild mushrooms sauteed in garlic and butter from Stardust, and drink the raspberry cordial from Anne of Green Gables.  One memorable sick day in middle school I read all of Silver Woven in My Hair, eating chunks of bread and cheese in solidarity with the Cinderella-like character in the story.

When Charlotte was a couple years younger she wanted to read The Tawny Scrawny Lion almost every night.  One day I decided to make the carrot stew that featured so prominently in the plot.  It was surprisingly filling--just as it was in the story.  Even baby Ariadne loved it.

Last winter when one of our favorite cartoon series, Legend of Korra, was about to come to an end, we went on a recipe hunt for some food to accompany the last episode.  I discovered a great recipe and a new favorite blog at Charlotte liked the Spirit Cake so well she had it when we celebrated her 6th birthday party with extended family.

Though the cake from the cartoon looks like the one above, Charlotte, my little fruit-lover, couldn't help herself and decided to add even more berries--artfully arranged, of course.  

So, when some friends launched a book club about a year ago, I started making notes and bringing food to meetings.  The kids' homeschool book club set a high bar.  Some of the more memorable snacks there included skyr from Icefall, sweet potato soup from The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic and dessert pizza from The Candymakers.

The noodle pudding made with sultanas and ginger and described as 'golden ingots' from The Yiddish Policeman's Union was a favorite of mine (it tastes better than it looks).  

Sherlock Homes' housekeeper was always making beef pies from The Beekeeper's Apprentice, which also turned out to be quite good.  Paw paw jam from The Glass Castle was less well received, but worth a try (I did not make this one, since raw paw paw was impossible to get at that time of year). When we read Americana our friends Sam and Wick made fried plantains that were downright amazing.

At this point, it is more or less expected that I will make some sort of culinary effort and I get warnings like 'don't make burnt toast'  for Ocean at the End of the Lane and 'no library candy' from City of Thieves.  

Recently I've started a middle school book club.  Above, Nova and Charlotte are making Swedish cremes from The Watsons Go To Birmingham--1963 (the author's wife contributed the recipe to The Kids' Book Club Book).  Next month's books are The Very Persistant Gappers of Frip and The Little Prince.  I wonder what we'll make...


  1. You must read, _Kitchens of the Great Midwest_ and _Like Water for Chocolate_!

  2. I loved Like Water for Chocolate, that one deserves a reread (it's only been a couple decades). I've never heard of Kitchens of the Great Midwest, I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the suggestions!