5.05.2009

Literary Food Porn

A majority of the scenes I remember from favorite childhood books--the images that stick with me, the passages I once read over and over--are pure literary food porn.

I was disappointed as a teenager when I ate Turkish Delight for the first time, having always imagined Edmund selling his soul to the White Witch for something that tasted like chocolate mint meltaways (clever lad!), not a mixture of jelly and agar (dolt).

Reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, I admired Jamie's automat selection, when he had no naysaying parents around, of macaroni & cheese and coffee for breakfast to the point that it stuck in my mind as an ideal breakfast for years (even after I'd eaten it for breakfast).

My favorite page in Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever featured breakfast vocabulary; I loved the baking of the enormous crusty loaf in The Giant Jam Sandwich; Paddington Bear got me interested not in bears but in marmalade and standing on tables full of teacakes. Sara Crewe sharing meat pies with Ermengarde was obviously the best scene in A Little Princess.

Searching the web just now for a description of the baked potato to be had at Beanbender's Beer Garden (from Daniel Pinkwater's The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death), an ultimate toecurler of a literary meal that I won't even try to describe myself, I was surprised to find that I had already written Pinkwater about the book and potato, in 1999, at The P-Zone: Talk to DP Forum [only today did I see his reply]:

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September 24th, 1999
From: Emily Lloyd

I wanted, by my side, a copy of The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death so badly that I was about to steal one from my local library*. What a thrill to find it back in print.

Typin' with one thumb in a peppered potato,

em

*I work in my local library, so it was especially nice not to have to commit a crime at the workplace.

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DP replies:


I think I've been in your library! Unless it's a common thing for library employees in general to work with their thumb in a baked potato. Actually, I have done so myself. It's very pleasant in cold weather.

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...so I was happy to learn via Maud Newton's blog of a blog called Literary Food Porn, which has so far covered literary food descriptions from Patricia Highsmith to Laura Ingalls Wilder (they chose Little House on the Prairie; I'd choose Farmer Boy) to Gogol. Keep your lavishly illustrated Nigella Contessa cookbooks. Gimme a "huge platter of watercress sandwiches, along with a plate, a knife, a fork, a spoon, salt and pepper, a glass of water, and a linen napkin, nicely folded."

9 comments:

Loaf said...

I am so that way about food scenes in books. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs stands out as a wonderful town to me...

fatima k said...

Hi, I'm from the literary food porn blog - I'm glad you like it! We have been meaning to put up Farmer Boy soon, and may even have a LIW theme week.. let us know if you have a particular passage that you think is especially great.

xx

Kerry said...

Bread and Jam for Frances and how she turns down these the lovingly packed complete meals for a jam sandwich! I think that was my first experience with food porn.

Jessy Randall said...

I have a clear (but possibly false) memory of a passage in Farmer Boy where they fill a glass with popcorn and fill a glass with milk, and then they pour the milk over the popcorn and it doesn't spill -- this seemed amazing and magical to me as a child reader. Pinkwater has tons of food porn in The Neddiad, also, with recitations from the train dining car menu.

Emily Lloyd said...

Yes! That IS in Farmer Boy. And then they eat it.

Anonymous said...

On the Huffington Post, Charles Best wrote:

For my 9th birthday, my only wish was to eat like a farmer boy. I had devoured The Little House on the Prairie book series, and wanted to be like Almanzo Wilder, the protagonist of Farmer Boy, one of the later installments in the Little House series.

A week before September 27, my mother asked what I'd like for my birthday. I wanted to eat exactly what Almanzo ate, farm food of the 1870s. Mom pulled it off. To this day, I can taste the Fried Apples 'n' Onions, Almanzo's favorite.

I just remember wanting pie.

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