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Food in Fiction Meme


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This has been floating around the internet, and I keep meaning to fill it out. I thought I'd post it here so I can see what you all think, and give myself a little time to do it.

Food from fiction that you'd like to sample:

A fictional meal you would like to have attended:

A memorable work of fiction set in a restaurant or a café:

Food you've tried that didn't live up to the expectations raised by a fictional account:

Food from fiction that you couldn't help but want to try even though you knew you would hate it:

An unappetizing food description from fiction:

A recipe you've tried or a meal you've recreated from fiction:

Food you associate with reading:

Your favourite food-focussed book/writer:

I have answers for a few. What say you, egulleters?

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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When I was in 4th grade I read a Hemingway story, one of the Nick Adams bits, that contained a few paragraphs about 2 foods that I had never encountered in my life- a raw onion and butter sandwich and canned beans(if I remember correctly it was baked beans?) mixed with canned spaghetti.

Now, there was NO way that I was going to find canned beans and canned spaghetti in MY world, but raw onions? Butter? Tada!

I went into the kitchen and made myself a sandwich, slathering the Hollywood bread that was the daily slice of my youth with thick lashings of butter, then placing 2 hefty slices of raw yellow onion on the bread. It smelled delicious. I was enthralled, of course.

I poured a glass of milk and sat down to feast. I took a bite, being sure to get some onion into my mouth with the first taste.

The taste in my mouth was awful. I mean, really. I HATED it. Strongly acrid raw onion, thickly slathered sweet unsalted butter, the moist Hollywood bread, not a good idea. I washed out my mouth in the kitchen sink, drank a glass of orange juice, threw away the sandwich and the milk, and promptly forgot about onion sandwiches for a long while.

Flash forward a few decades(I'm not sayin' how many, but go ALL the way past the 70's, 80's and 90's!)

I now regularly eat onion sandwiches! No butter, mind you- mustard, or cream cheese usually mate with my onion these days. I also sliver the the onion, I never eat thick slabs of the crunchy pungent vegetable raw. I sometimes sprinkle a bit of cracked pink pepper on it, perhaps some thyme or zaatar. And, you know what? I LIKE it!

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  • 2 weeks later...

A fictional meal you would like to have attended:

    Any meal shared at Nero Wolfe's table

A memorable work of fiction set in a restaurant or a café:

    Reunion - Cheever - several restaurants/bars, in fact (they keep getting kicked out)

Food you've tried that didn't live up to the expectations raised by a fictional account:

    Can't think of any offhand

Food from fiction that you couldn't help but want to try even though you knew you would hate it:

    Haggis, can't remember where I first read about it - "knew" I would hate it but it was not bad

An unappetizing food description from fiction:

    Mrs. Tebbins' "meals" in Angela Thirkell's August Folly, which I'm reading right now

A recipe you've tried or a meal you've recreated from fiction:

    Nero Wolfe's scrambled eggs

Food you associate with reading:

    Apples - Jo from Little Women is always reading and eating apples

Your favourite food-focussed book/writer:

    Too many to choose from!

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Terry Pratchett's description of a greasy eatery called Sham Harga's House of Ribs. There was a point when the description of a meal was it was mostly fat, glistening and dotted with crunchy bits. When you cut it (the skin of the fat) open with a knife, oil drizzled out of the crusted fat layer. The description was enough to make me swoon.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

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Food from fiction that you'd like to sample:

Faire tea

and Templeton's the Rat's List of what he ate at the State Fair, only, not from the ground.

A fictional meal you would like to have attended:

Oh, there is a haunting scene in Isabella Allende's Like Water for Chocolate in which she cooks a feast which makes everyone happy and loving. I'l love to have been there. The Mad Tea Party

A memorable work of fiction set in a restaurant or a café:

Fried Green Tomatoes

Food you've tried that didn't live up to the expectations raised by a fictional account:

Pickled Limes and Blanc Mange, from Little Women.

Food from fiction that you couldn't help but want to try even though you knew you would hate it:

Raw whale blubber from one of my kid's books, which name I can't remember.

An unappetizing food description from fiction:

Anything served to sailors in the 18th century. And the whale blubber.

A recipe you've tried or a meal you've recreated from fiction:

Four Hundred Year old eggs from Harold MaGee's Science book.

Food you associate with reading:

Chocolates

Your favourite food-focussed book/writer:

Wendell Berry

Edited by pax (log)
“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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  • 1 month later...

Vanity Cakes from On The Banks Of Plum Creek, from the Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I used to beg my mother to make them, chasing her through the kitchen while waving the book at her.

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Fictional food you'd like to sample:

I can't think of one single food, but writers like Roald Dahl have some incredible descriptions of food that have stayed with me for years. And Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a food enthusiast's dream.

Hamlet's line about the funeral-baked meats coldly furnishing forth the marriage table is also arresting...though I wouldn't have wanted to sample that.

A fictional meal you'd like to have attended:

The party scene in The Great Gatsby. Or an Austen banquet.

A memorable work of fiction set in a restaurant or a café:

The Czech novel Saturnin, by Zdenek Jirotka, has a marvelous doughnut-throwing scene set in the Imperial Cafe in Prague. (Until the cafe was refurbished and polished to within an inch of its life a couple of years ago, there was still a bowl of doughnuts sitting on the bar with a very small sign next to it noting that you could throw the doughnuts if you liked but it would cost you a thousand Czech crowns.) :wink:

Food you've tried that didn't live up to the expectations raised by a fictional account:

No madeleine is ever going to live up to its literary counterpart. But I'm still searching for my madeleine, a pull-apart coffee cake my family used to buy from a bakery in Orange County in the '80s. "Sublime" doesn't begin to do it justice. It was a magical concoction and had these veins of molten cinnamon-sugar streusel running through it.

Food from fiction that you couldn't help but want to try even though you knew you would hate it:

Oysters on the half shell have a decidedly glamorous reputation, but I can't get past the texture.

An unappetizing food description from fiction:

Writer's kid Sport, from Harriet the Spy, had some fairly dismal lunches, and Harriet remembers opening the fridge in Sport's family's apartment once only to find wilted celery. (But when Sport's father gets an advance check, he hollers that he's taking everyone out for steak.)

A recipe you've tried or a meal you've recreated from fiction:

Hmm. From fiction? I don't think I've ever done this.

Food you associate with reading:

Anything crunchy.

Your favorite food-focused book/writer:

Maybe not food-focused, but excellent writers who feature food: Dahl, Wharton, Proust (natch), Esquivel, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Also, Diane Mott Davidson's food mysteries are enormous fun.

Edited by Rehovot (log)
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I can't read a Nero Wolfe book without getting hungry. I discovered the Nero Wolfe Cookbook (by Nero Wolfe author, Rex Stout). It would have been cute if he had called it "Too Many Recipes", but a lot of people probably wouldn't get it.

It's out of print, but available, but check your library first.

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Food from fiction that you'd like to sample:

A midnight spread from any of number of girls books about boarding school.

A fictional meal you would like to have attended:

Lunch, with Lord Peter Wimsey, at the Savoy.

A memorable work of fiction set in a restaurant or a café:

Not the same, but there's a great Lord Peter story that completely revolves around which of three gentleman can properly identify a truly remarkable series of wine. But it takes place at a French chateau, not a restaurant or café.

Food you've tried that didn't live up to the expectations raised by a fictional account:

Turkish Delight, from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Had it on my first trip to England, at age 16, and was so underwhelmed.

An unappetizing food description from fiction:

The biscuits with weevils from the Hornblower series. Eeeek.

A recipe you've tried or a meal you've recreated from fiction:

Can't think of one, though I have several cookbooks based on fiction (Nero Wolfe, Nancy Drew, Lord Peter, ....)

Food you associate with reading:

When I was a kid, rereading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory REQUIRED chocolate

Your favourite food-focussed book/writer:

Probably Rex Stout, with Dorothy Sayers a close second.

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Not a book but Babette's Feast is a brilliant Danish film featuring an amazing meal...I always wanted to sit round that dinner table. I would recommend it to anybody that hasn't seen it.

I've been obsessed with the meal from Babette's Feast for years, especially the version in the film. I once read that researchers for the film checked old cookbooks for the dishes that Isak Dinesen mentioned in her story, and concluded that Dinesen had made them all up! So they had to develop recipes for all the dishes in the film.

When the film was released, this article appeared in the NY Times, with recipes. Are you up for making Blinis Demidoff or Cailles en Sarcophages?

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/03/02/garden/i...se&pagewanted=1

Other notes on the food (in the film) that I've taken over the years:

The salad is a composed salad of red lettuce, hearts of romaine, Belgian endive cut in matchsticks (best guess), whole walnuts, and vinaigrette.

The baba au rhum is garnished with glaceed fruits (angelica, cherries, pear?, apricots), plus candied rose petals and that spectacular whole candied rose on top.

The fruit and cheese platter holds figs, red and green grapes, papaya, pineapple, dates, maybe pears. The cheeses look like some kind of yellow cow's milk hard cheese (8-12" diam) and blue cheese (6" diam).

At the end of the meal the guests are served coffee and vieux marc fine champagne (from Cognac appellation--super brandy?).

A friend and I were tossing around the idea of making this feast for people we like very very much, but so far it's all just talk.

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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Not a book but Babette's Feast is a brilliant Danish film featuring an amazing meal...I always wanted to sit round that dinner table. I would recommend it to anybody that hasn't seen it.

I've been obsessed with the meal from Babette's Feast for years, especially the version in the film. I once read that researchers for the film checked old cookbooks for the dishes that Isak Dinesen mentioned in her story, and concluded that Dinesen had made them all up! So they had to develop recipes for all the dishes in the film.

When the film was released, this article appeared in the NY Times, with recipes. Are you up for making Blinis Demidoff or Cailles en Sarcophages?

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/03/02/garden/i...se&pagewanted=1

Other notes on the food (in the film) that I've taken over the years:

The salad is a composed salad of red lettuce, hearts of romaine, Belgian endive cut in matchsticks (best guess), whole walnuts, and vinaigrette.

The baba au rhum is garnished with glaceed fruits (angelica, cherries, pear?, apricots), plus candied rose petals and that spectacular whole candied rose on top.

The fruit and cheese platter holds figs, red and green grapes, papaya, pineapple, dates, maybe pears. The cheeses look like some kind of yellow cow's milk hard cheese (8-12" diam) and blue cheese (6" diam).

At the end of the meal the guests are served coffee and vieux marc fine champagne (from Cognac appellation--super brandy?).

A friend and I were tossing around the idea of making this feast for people we like very very much, but so far it's all just talk.

Thanks for the link, that article is definitely a keeper! Such a shame, I could have had the meal in a New York restaurant but I'm 20 years too late!

As far as making the meal I think it would be a great idea. Personally I'd toy with the idea of making a few of the dishes such as the quail, though I think they'd lose their impact slightly as individual items (and I do love the pure over-indulgent decadence of it all, filling your senses to saturation point and all that!)

I'm going to have to sit and rewatch tonight...in the meantime do we have any idea of calorie count, I'm assuming zero... if its fictional?

Julianne

p.s. I've always fancied being forced to eat that giant chocolate cake by Ms Trunchbull a la 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl. It may be possible that I have some problems. Snozzcumbers(?) always sounded quite revolting.

Enid Blyton had some lovely foodie creations in the Faraway Tree books - Pop Biscuits filled with honey for example (I should really try to recreate them). There was a land in one of the books where everything was made of sweets, with ginger beer rivers and lollipop flowers. Whe I was 6 or 7 I used to think it was amazing.

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As far as making the meal I think it would be a great idea. Personally I'd toy with the idea of making a few of the dishes such as the quail, though I think they'd lose their impact slightly as individual items (and I do love the pure over-indulgent decadence of it all, filling your senses to saturation point and all that!)

I played around with the idea of a revised menu of winter squash soup (instead of the turtle soup) served with amontillado, the quail en sarcophage, the salad, and then the baba au rhum with glaceed fruit. Coffee and brandy to finish of course. That's plenty of food and cooking right there. I'm inclined to omit the cheese and fruit course, as much as I adore cheese and fruit, because cheese is so filling in itself.

OK, so maybe I'll put the blinis demidoff back in. But the caviar will be orange salmon caviar or tobiko, not sevruga! When you see the movie again, watch how much caviar Babette puts on those blinis. You have to win the lottery to do that.

At the end of the dinner, my guests must go outside to look at the stars, like in the movie. I will insist on it.

ETA: The next time you watch the movie, there's a scene at the end of the dinner where Babette is sitting down in the kitchen sipping a glass of wine. Towards the left of the screen, on the kitchen counter (along with the animal heads and such) is an attractive spot of red. When I watched the movie on DVD on my computer, I froze the frame and zoomed in on that spot of red. What is that? Well, it's a tomato. Yes, a tomato in the boonies of Denmark in late autumn. Babette must have bought it off the ship from California when it came to town.

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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I don't have enough material to fill out the entire survey, I'm afraid, but these I have off the top of my head.

I read and reread Gerald Durell's My Family and Other Animals seemingly a hundred times when I was eight or nine. I remember especially how Gerald wrote about eating fresh watermelon, salty goat cheese and fresh olives on Corfu, where he grew up. I think that set off a deep love of simple Greek food that's stuck with me for a long time.

I read Gogol's Dead Souls a few weeks ago and was struck by the gigantic gut-buster Russian feasts the antihero is given wherever he goes. The constant discussion of sturgeon and lambs-foot and sweetmeats and god knows what else was consumed in the Russian kitchen of latter days really piqued my interest. I have never found Russian food even vaguely appealing before encountering Gogol but I may have to go back and reconsider the cabbage.

Rehovot, I also have vivid recollections of how damn well Roald Dahl described candy! I remember reading his autobiography about his boyhood and being fascinated by all the mysterious old-style British candies my late nineties kid self had never encountered - sherbets and licorice ropes (made with rats blood!,) the inspiration for the Gobstopper...

It's interesting how many of our most vivid literary food memories come from childhood. Anyone else get that sense?

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Wonderful topic - thank you!

Food from fiction that I'd like to sample:

If we can count cinema (and it is from a book, after all) - full menu from Babette's Feast

Everything in "Like Water for Chocolate"

A fictional meal I would like to have attended:

"Big Night" (with Tony Shaloub and Stanley Tucci, please!)

A memorable work of fiction set in a restaurant or a café:

I need to think about this.

Food you've tried that didn't live up to the expectations raised by a fictional account:

If it sounded dubious, I haven't tried it.

Food from fiction that I couldn't help but want to try even though you knew you would hate it:

Same answer as for the previous question

An unappetizing food description from fiction:

almost anything from  Shakespeare

anything in Edith Wharton  - did she actually eat?

A recipe you've tried or a meal I've recreated from fiction:

Proust's inspiration about madeleines, and yes, they are wonderful. I'm addicted.

Food I associate with reading:

See above.

also -

red wine

rice craker mix (only the better-quality stuff, though)

crunchy - sweet - savory (preferably at the same time!)

whatever's around and sound tasty at the moment

My favourite food-focussed book/writer:

J.R.R.Tolkien - not totally food-focused, but the hobbits' delight in food is very resonant for me.

It doesn't fit with the catgories listed, but I need to at least see "The Redwall Cookbook" by Brain Jacques, as I'm a big fan of these books. The recipes sound...hobbitish.

Edited by violetfox (log)

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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  • 8 months later...

From The Forty-five Guardsmen by Alexandre Dumas, pere.

Chapter 20

THE BREAKFAST.

Gorenflot was not long in giving his orders. The cook was summoned.

"Brother Eusebius," said Gorenflot, in a severe voice, "listen to what my friend M. Briquet is about to tell you. It seems that you are negligent, and I hear of grave faults in your last soup, and a fatal mistake in the cooking of your ears. Take care, brother, take care; a single step in a wrong direction may be irremediable."

The monk grew red and pale by turns, and stammered out an excuse.

"Enough," said Gorenflot, "what can we have for breakfast to-day?"

"Eggs fried with cock's combs."

"After?"

"Mushrooms."

"Well?"

"Crabs cooked with Madeira."

"Those are all trifles; tell us of something solid."

"A ham boiled with pistachios."

Chicot looked contemptuous.

"Pardon!" cried Eusebius, "it is cooked in sherry wine."

Gorenflot hazarded an approving glance toward Chicot.

"Good! is it not, M. Briquet?" said he.

Chicot made a gesture of half-satisfaction.

"And what have you besides?"

"You can have some eels."

"Oh! we will dispense with the eels," said Chicot.

"I think, M. Briquet," replied the cook, "that you would regret it if you had not tasted my eels."

"What! are they rarities?"

"I nourish them in a particular manner."

"Oh, oh!"

"Yes," added Gorenflot; "it appears that the Romans or the Greeks--I forget which--nourished their lampreys as Eusebius does his eels. He read of it in an old author called Suetonius."

"Yes, monsieur, I mince the intestines and livers of fowls and game with a little pork, and make a kind of sausage meat, which I throw to my eels, and they are kept in soft water, often renewed, in which they become large and fat. The one which I shall offer you to-day weighs nine pounds."

"It must be a serpent!" said Chicot.

"It swallowed a chicken at a meal."

"And how will it be dressed?"

"Skinned and fried in anchovy paste, and done with bread crumbs; and I shall have the honor of serving it up with a sauce flavored with garlic and allspice, lemons and mustard."

"Perfect!" cried Chicot.

Brother Eusebius breathed again.

"Then we shall want sweets," said Gorenflot.

"I will invent something that shall please you."

"Well, then, I trust to you; be worthy of my confidence."

Eusebius bowed and retired. Ten minutes after, they sat down, and the programme was faithfully carried out. They began like famished men, drank Rhine wine, Burgundy and Hermitage, and then attacked that of the fair lady.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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