Food in Literature

food in lit

Helen Garlick loves both food and reading. In this series for Talking of Food, she chooses food-related extracts from some of her favourite authors and books. Helen says:

There are hundreds of good books that will take you through memorable accounts of food in literature. Dickens alone has filled several. Everyone knows his account of Christmas dinner at the Cratchitt's. Everyone also knows Ratty’s description of his picnic basket, Mrs Ramsey’s boeuf en daube and Marcel Proust’s madeleines. The last two would make my list of favourites but I have only selected extracts from books I have read and loved. They are random, not in any order but I hope you enjoy them.

The Dept to Pleasure and Treasure Island cover images

How does cheese fare in literature? References to people eating cheese abound, but most are without any embellishment. Where are the descriptions of cheese, the celebrations of cheese? Apart from Giles Milton’s Edward Trencom’s Nose, here are some extracts, but if you know of any more, do let us know, so that we can include them.

Food in Literature: Part 1

In the first part, Helen includes extracts from Laurence Durrell’s Avignon Quintet, from Moby Dick by Herman Melville, and from a short story by MFK Fisher.

Food in Literature: Part 2

For the second part, Helen chooses extracts from Just William by Richmal Compton, the poem This is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams and a food-related parody, and another extract from Livia by Laurence Durrell. 

Food in Literature: Part 3

Extracts from The Leopard by Giuseppe Lampedusa, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert are Helen's choices for the third part.

Cooking with Fernet Branca and The Sea, The Sea

In Part 4, Helen introduces us to Cooking With Fernet Branca by James Hamilton Paterson and The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch.

Time Regained & Seamus Heaney

In Part 5, Helen gives us an extract from Time Regained, Le temps retrouvé, the last volume in Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu, and Seamus Heaney's poem Oysters

Food in Literature 6

Part 6 of Helen's Food in Literature series is a single extract from American Pastoral by Philip Roth.

Food in Literature 7

In part 7, Helen takes us to what she calls "Anglo-Indian horrors, with extracts from E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, and London Fields by Martin Amis.