There’s something magical about the combination of food and drink and reading. There’s plenty of books about food, but we want to highlight a few good cookbooks that have recipes based on famous literature.
1. Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal (August 2014) is a collection of American Literature written on the theme of food. It was compiled and edited by two professors of English, Jennifer Cognard-Black and Melissa Goldthwaite. Each section begins with excerpts from famous American cookbooks, and it is filled with poetry, prose, and essays in which food plays a prominent role, along with recipes, from starters to desserts. Some of the featured authors include Maya Angelou, James Beard, Alice B. Toklas, Sherman Alexie, Nora Ephron, M.F.K. Fisher, and Alice Waters.
2. Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals (2014) by Dinah Fried is a photographic exploration of literary meals, from classic (The Secret Garden and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) to contemporary (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Corrections). This book started as a design project while Fried was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. The diverse photographs bring the stories, and food, alive for readers.
3. Literary Feasts: Recipes from the Classics of Literature (2004) by Barbara Scafford is a collection of essays exploring the significance of food featured in passages from literary classics, along with companion recipes. The author offers insights into the cultures, traditions, and how food was used to deepen meaning in the works of authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, D.H. Lawrence, John Steinbeck, Jane Austen, and Virginia Woolf.
4. The Book Lover’s Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature and the Passages that Feature Them (2005) by Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Jensen is another collection of favorite literary passages about food along with recipes to recreate them, supplemented by anecdotes about the writers and writing. It was a National Public Radio holiday gift pick in 2003.
5. The Book Club Cookbook: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors (2004) by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, features recipes and discussion ideas from bestselling authors and book clubs across the country. First published in 2004, this book centers on more contemporary literary picks, such as The Secret Life of Bees, and Bel Canto, in the first edition, and The Help and Water for Elephants in the 2012 revised edition.
6. The same authors, Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, also published: Table of Contents: From Breakfast with Anita Diamant to Dessert with James Patterson – a Generous Helping of Recipes, Writings and Insights from Today’s Bestselling Authors (2011), a collection of 100 dishes and drinks by fifty contemporary authors.
7. The Great American Writers’ Cookbook (1981), and The New Great American Writers’ Cookbook (2003), edited by Dean Faulkner Wells. Wells was an author, editor, and publisher – co-owner of Yoknapatawpha Press in Oxford Mississippi, who published the cookbooks, and also the niece and adopted-daughter of William Faulkner. The emphasis is on Southern writers and food but includes hundreds of authors and recipes from many regions and cultures throughout the country, including Jonathan Franzen, Dave Barry, Anna Quindlen, John Berendt, and Sandra Cisneros. The foreword of the 2003 edition is by Julia Reed, who has published multiple books about Southern food, drinks, and entertaining in the last few years: Julia Reed’s South: Spirited Entertaining and High-Style Fun All Year Long (2016), But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria!: Adventures in Eating, Drinking, and Making Merry (2013), and Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties: An Entertaining Life (with Recipes) (2009).
Amy C. Manikowski is a writer living in Asheville, NC.