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.

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Georgette Heyer and Bruce Chatwin have nothing in common, save that in these extracts from two of their novels there is a common theme, that gourmet food served in grand surroundings can be deeply depressing if the company and the mood are unsympathetic.

Food in Literature Part 17 book covers

In Part 17 of Food in Literature, Helen brings us extracts from two murder mysteries, The Golden Child by Penelope Fitzgerald and Felicia’s Journey by William Trevor, in which food is used to establish character.

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Part 18 brings two new extracts chosen by Helen. The first, from Talking to the Dead by Helen Dunmore, is the internal thought processes of Nina as she prepares dinner for her sister and other guests. By contrast, the extract from The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers Guild by Mathias Enard gives a detailed list of what was consumed at the banquet of the title.

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In this Christmastime selection of readings, Helen gives us an extract from The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens in which Mr Pickwick is setting off for Christmas at Dingley Dell; extracts from December with the Ladies of Llangollen; an extract from Christmas with the Savages; and two extracts from Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm.

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In the second set of extracts for winter and Christmas, Helen has chosen: the Christmas Eve at Mole’s house in The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Graham; Harriet Pringle’s first banquet in The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning; and A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas.

The Food of Love

Where else to start but with the incomparable Dame Barbara Cartland’s cookery book, The Romance of Food published in 1984. The authoress (she would have insisted on the feminine noun) of over 350 romantic novels, with titles such as Gypsy Magic, Bride to a Brigand and The Island of Love, was also a proponent of health food, especially honey.