As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive.No, we're not a bunch of literary pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.
Jessica Day George - Young Adult & Middle Grade Author
Amy Finnegan - Young Adult Author
Kim Thacker - Writer and Mommy
August 25, 2011
Food in Fiction
By Kim Harris Thacker, writer, mommy, and Bookshop Talk host
You’ve experienced it—the craving for a mugful of butterbeer when reading a Harry Potter novel, the irresistible need for Turkish Delight inspired by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Reading Joanne Harris’s Chocolat results in a night-run to the convenience store and the settling for some waxy substance made with soy lethicin. You sit down to your well-worn copy of Anne of Green Gables, get to the part where Diana Barry ends up drunk on the currant wine Anne mistook for raspberry cordial, and suddenly . . . you’re thirsty.
Food brings people together. And if there’s one thing an author wants to do, it is to connect to her audience. What better way to do that than to describe loads of lovely, mouth-watering food?
My favorite foodie novel is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, which is about Almanzo Wilder, the little boy with a big appetite who would one day become Laura Ingalls’s husband. How would it be to sit down to breakfast in the Wilder household? Well, I hope you haven’t eaten in two weeks, because this is what you could expect:
“Mother was frying pancakes, and the big blue platter, keeping hot on the stove’s hearth, was full of plump brown sausage cakes in their brown gravy . . . . There was oatmeal with plenty of thick cream and maple sugar. There were fried potatoes, and the golden buckwheat cakes, as many as Almanzo wanted to eat, with sausages and gravy or with butter and maple syrup. There were preserves and jams and jellies and doughnuts. But best of all Almanzo liked the spicy apple pie, with its thick, rich juice and its crumbly crust.”
What’s supper like? Here you go:
“There were slabs of tempting cheese, there was a plate of quivering headcheese; there were glass dishes of jams and jellies and preserves, and a tall pitcher of milk, and a steaming pan of baked beans with a crisp bit of fat pork in the crumbling brown crust . . . . Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth. He ate mealy boiled potatoes, with brown ham-gravy. He ate the ham. He bit deep into velvety bread spread with sleek butter, and he ate the crisp golden crust. He demolished a tall heap of pale mashed turnips, and a hill of stewed yellow pumpkin. Then he sighed, and tucked his napkin deeper into the neckband of his red waist. And he ate plum preserves, and strawberry jam, and grape jelly, and spiced watermelon-rind pickles. He felt very comfortable inside. Slowly he ate a large piece of pumpkin pie.”
And then there’s the after-supper popcorn:
“When the big dishpan was heaping full of fluffy white popcorn, Alice poured melted butter over it, and stirred and salted it. It was hot and crackling crisp, and deliciously buttery and salty, and everyone could eat all he wanted to . . . . Almanzo sat on a footstool by the stove, an apple in his hand, a bowl of popcorn by his side, and his mug of cider on the hearth by his feet. He bit the juicy apply, then he ate some popcorn, then he took a drink of cider. He thought about popcorn . . . . Then he thought that if he had some milk, he would have popcorn and milk.”
What’s that? You’d like to be excused to the kitchen for a bit? Of course. I understand. If you don’t mind, could you wipe the drool from your chin while you’re in there?