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Posts Tagged ‘cookbooks’

08 MAY, 2014

The Modern Art Cookbook: Recipes and Food-Inspired Treasures from the Twentieth Century’s Greatest Creative Icons

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Picasso’s sangria, Emily Dickinson’s gingerbread, Frida Kahlo’s red snapper, and other delectable delights from beloved artists and writers.

As a lover of unusual cookbooks — especially those at the intersection of literature, art, and cuisine, from the Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook to Salvador Dalí’s erotic gastronomy to Andy Warhol’s little-known illustrated recipes to Dinah Fried’s magnificent photographs of meals from famous fiction — I was instantly enthralled by The Modern Art Cookbook (public library). Art historian, literature scholar and professor Mary Ann Caws constructs an “amalgam of literary passages, recipes, still-lifes, photographs and film frames” related to food, featuring contributions from such icons of modern art and modernist literature as Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Man Ray, Andy Warhol, Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickinson, and Vincent van Gogh. Eleven chapters explore different courses and gastronomical categories — appetizers, soup, eggs, fish, meat, vegetables, sides, bread and cheese, fruit, desserts, and beverages — treating each as a distinct genre.

In spirit and sensibility, the project is the culinary counterpart to Literary Jukebox, pairing great literature and art with recipes and other food-related meditations.

Here is but a small sample taste to whet the appetite.

Maira Kalman, 'Herring and Philosophy Club,' 2006

In between painting and pondering the poetics of love, Vincent van Gogh tried his hand at cooking:

Vincent van Gogh’s
CARAMELIZED ONIONS

¾ pound (340g) pearl onions
1 ¼ teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Pinch of fine sea salt

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the onions. Simmer for 1 minute, then transfer to a colander to cool. Trim the root and stem ends and peel the onions. Place the onions in a pan large enough to hold them in one layer, add enough water to barely cover. Sprinkle with the sugar and the butter.

Cut a round of parchment paper to fit in the pan so that it snugly covers the onions. Cut a hole in the centre to allow steam to escape. Cook over a medium heat until the onions have caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes, adding a little water if the pan seems dry. Season with a pinch of fine sea salt.

Andy Warhol, 'Five Views of an Onion,' 1950s

Modernist cuisine godmother Alice B. Toklas is, of course, a prominent presence in the book. In addition to having pioneered French cuisine outside France in her influential memoir-disguised-as-a-cookbook, being the love of Gertrude Stein’s life also gave her a unique perspective on the Parisian modernist expat community as she hosted Stein’s famous salons, attended by such luminaries as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, René Crevel, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.

Alice B. Toklas’s
BASS FOR PICASSO

One day when Picasso was to lunch with us I decorated a fish in a way that I thought would amuse him. I chose a fine striped bass and cooked it according to a theory of my grandmother who had no experience in cooking and who rarely saw her kitchen but who had endless theories about cooking as well as about many other things. She contended that a fish having lived its life in water, once caught, should have no further contact with the element in which it had been born and raised. She recommended that it be roasted or poached in wine or cream or butter. So I made a court-bouillon of dry white wine with whole peppers, salt, a laurel leaf,* a sprig of thyme, a blade of mace, an onion with a clove stuck in it, a carrot, a leek and a bouquet of fines herbes. This was gently boiled in the fish-kettle for ½ hour and then put aside to cool. Then the fish was placed on the rack, the fish-kettle covered and slowly brought to a boil and the fish poached for 20 minutes. Taken from the fire it was left to cool in the court-bouillon. It was then carefully drained, dried and placed on the fish platter. A short time before serving it I covered the fish with an ordinary mayonnaise and, using a pastry tube, decorated it with a red mayonnaise, not colored with catsup — horror of horrors — but with tomato paste. Then I made a design with sieved hard-boiled eggs, the whites and the yolks apart, with truffles and with finely chopped fines herbes. I was proud of my chef d’oeuvre when it was served and Picasso exclaimed at its beauty. But, said he, should it not rather have been made in honor of Matisse than of me.

*Note: The leaf must come from Apollo’s laurel (Laurus nobilius), better known outside France as the bay.

Pablo Picasso, 'Le Gourmet,' 1901

Picasso himself, who seems to have felt about his palate as strongly as he did about his art, makes several culinary cameos in the book.

Pablo Picasso’s
HERB SOUP

2 bunches radishes
2 handfuls chervil
1 bunch sorrel
2 cloves garlic
2 soupspoons olive oil
1 egg yolk
6 slices toast (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Remove the green from the radishes and wash them with the chervil and the sorrel leaves, draining off the liquid. Put the radishes aside to serve them with salt later. After having reserved 20 chervil stalks, chop finely all the greens. Peel the garlic cloves.

Heat the oil over very slow heat in a stewing pan to reduce the garlic cloves, and then the greens, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add 2.5 liters of water, salt and pepper. Let it simmer uncovered for 35 minutes. Taste the soup, season if necessary, and pour in a mixer, then put it through a sieve.

In the soup tureen, beat the egg yolk and pour over it the soup, still beating, Scatter the chervil over it, and serve with the toast.

Despite once stating that Dalí “has had the monopoly on eggs ever since Christopher Columbus” (which he did), Picasso didn’t shy away from the culinary genre himself:

Pablo Picasso’s
SPANISH OMELETTE
(Omelette à L’Espagnole)

4 potatoes
2 onions
6 soupspoons olive oil
10 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel the potatoes, wash them, cut them in slices and dry them carefully. Peel the onions, chop them perpendicular to the bulb, and heat over a gentle flame with half the oil in a large saucepan until they are slightly golden. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.

While they are cooking,break the eggs into a large salad bowl and beat them until they are foamy. Take the potatoes and onions from the pan and drain them on a piece of paper to absorb the moisture. Toss them in the salad bowl, salt and pepper them, and mix it all together.

Heat the rest of the oil in the pan, and pour in the mixture from the salad bowl. Let it cook over a medium flame until the bottom of the omelette takes and is golden. Turn the omelette over to cook it on the other side, keeping the inside runny. Serve it with potatoes, hot or cold, cut into cubes.

William Scott, 'Bowl, Eggs and Lemons,' 1950

Among the recipes are also beautiful gastronomically infused passages from the public and private writings — from novels to diaries — of beloved authors, such as this succulent section of A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway:

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

And what’s a modernist volume without some Ezra Pound, who manages to violate his own don’ts of poetry in this delightful verse?

STATEMENT OF BEING

I am a grave poetic hen
That lays poetic eggs
And to enhance my temperament
A little quiet begs.

We make the yolk philosophy,
True beauty the albumen
And then gum on a shell of form
To make the screed sound human.

When Frida Kahlo wasn’t busy handwriting passionate love letters to Diego Rivera, contemplating political philosophy, or cooking up DIY paint recipes, she turned her formidable creative talent to the kitchen:

Frida Kahlo’s
RED SNAPPER, VERACRUZ STYLE

1 red snapper, about 4½ pounds (2 kg)
Salt and pepper
6 medium tomatoes, sliced
20 pimento-stuffed olives
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
5 bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
8 red chillies (recipe calls for guero chillies, picked or fresh, but adapt it as you find suitable)
1 cup (235 ml) olive oil

Dry the fish thoroughly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange on a large baking dish.

Top with tomato slices, olives, capers, oregano, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, onions and chillies. Drizzle with the olive oil.

Bake in a preheated 375ºF (180ºC) oven for about 40 minutes, or until the fish is cooked, basting the fish with its juices 3 times during cooking.

Georges Braque, 'The Black Fish,' 1942

Georgia O’Keeffe’s
WILD ASPARAGUS

1 bunch (around 12 ounces / 350g) wild or cultivated asparagus
Butter or oil, to taste or for sautéeing
Herb salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the asparagus carefully to remove all fine sand. Cut the woody part of the stem off, keeping the asparagus in long pieces. This tender, young asparagus can be steamed or sautéed

Edouard Manet, 'Bunch of Asparagus,' 1880

Man Ray’s
POTLAGEL
(ROMANIAN-STYLE EGGPLANT SPREAD)

Serves 4
2 large eggplants (aubergines)
½ medium onion
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
French bread, rye bread or Russian black bread

Wash the eggplants and pierce them with a knife. Place them in a microwave and cook for 8-9 minutes (for best results cook on a barbecue).

Place the cooked eggplants in a bowl and cool for several minutes, then split them lengthwise and scrape out the pulp with a large spoon. Put the pulp in a small blender or grinder, along with the onion, garlic and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Pulse, do not purée.

Chill the mixture in the refrigerator. This makes a great spread on French baguettes, sliced rye, or Russian black bread.

Joseph Stella, 'Eggplant,' c. 1939

From Pablo Neruda comes a beautiful ode to the artichoke, translated by Ben Belitt:

The artichoke
of delicate heart
erect
in its battle-dress, builds
its minimal cupola;
keeps
stark
in its scallop of
scales.
Around it,
demoniac vegetables
bristle their thicknesses,
devise
tendrils and belfries,
the bulb’s agitations;
while under the subsoil
the carrot
sleeps sound in its
rusty mustaches.
Runner and filaments
bleach in the vineyards,
whereon rise the vines.
The sedulous cabbage
arranges its petticoats;
oregano
sweetens a world;
and the artichoke
dulcetly there in a gardenplot,
armed for a skirmish,
goes proud
in its pomegranate
burnishes.

Frida Kahlo, 'Fruits of the Earth,' 1938

The penultimate chapter explores desserts — a course cross-pollinated with modern art particularly well. Found among the manuscripts of Susan Gilbert, Emily Dickinson’s closest friend — or, as some have speculated, more-than-friend — was the following recipe in Dickinson’s handwriting:

Emily Dickinson’s
GINGERBREAD

½ cup (115g) butter
½ cup (110 ml) cream
1 quart (560g) flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
Make up with molasses

Cream the butter and mix with lightly whipped cream. Sift dry ingredients together and combine with other ingredients. The dough is stiff and needs to [be] pressed into whatever pan you choose. A round or small square pan is suitable. The recipe also fits perfectly into a cast iron muffin pan, if you happen to have one which makes oval cakes. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 20-25 minutes.

Joan Miró, 'Bottle of Wine,' 1924

The book closes with a chapter on beverages, among which is this festive treat from Picasso:

Pablo Picasso’s
SANGRIA OF ELS QUATRE GATS

For 8 cups
1 bottle of good red wine
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of 3 oranges
3 cloves
4 soupspoons acacia honey
2 soupspoons cognac

Pour the wine into a pot, add the cinnamon stick and heat over a high flame. As soon as the wine is boiling, add the orange zest and the cloves, and bring again to a boil. Add the honey, the cognac and a little glass of boiling water, and serve very hot in thick wineglasses.

The Modern Art Cookbook is an infinitely delectable delight in its entirety. Complement it with Marinetti’s Futurist Cookbook, Liberace’s little-known recipes, and Dalí’s magnificent Les Diners de Gala.

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29 APRIL, 2014

Salvador Dalí’s Rare, Erotic Vintage Cookbook

By:

A surreally sensual love letter to the palate.

“When I was six years old,” Salvador Dalí once professed, “I wanted to be a cook.” But it wasn’t until his late sixties that he channeled his childhood fantasy into Les Diners de Gala (public library) — a lavishly illustrated cookbook, originally published in 1973 and featuring Dalí’s intensely erotic etchings and paintings. The twelve chapters each cover a specific class of dishes — from exotic courses to fish and shellfish to vegetables — rendered with a surrealist twist both gastronomically and aesthetically, but nowhere more so than in the tenth chapter, dedicated to aphrodisiacs.

Prefacing the recipes is Dalí’s unambiguous cautionary disclaimer, penned at the dawn of the first major dieting era of popular culture:

We would like to state clearly that, beginning with the very first recipes, Les Diners de Gala, with its precepts and its illustrations, is uniquely devoted to the pleasures of Taste. Don’t look for dietetic formulas here.

We intend to ignore those charts and tables in which chemistry takes the place of gastronomy. If you are a disciple of one of those calorie-counters who turn the joys of eating into a form of punishment, close this book at once; it is too lively, too aggressive, and far too impertinent for you.

Also found throughout the book are Dalí’s amusingly dramatic proclamations, vacillating between the semi-sensical and the philosophic, applied here to the realm of gastronomy. To wit:

I only like to eat what has a clear and intelligible form. If I hate that detestable degrading vegetable called spinach it is because it is shapeless, like Liberty.

I attribute capital esthetic and moral values to food in general, and to spinach in particular. The opposite of shapeless spinach, is armor. I love eating suits of arms, in fact I love all shell fish… food that only a battle to peel makes it vulnerable to the conquest of our palate.

And:

The Jaw is our best tool to grasp philosophical knowledge. Disgust is the ever present watchman of my table, sternly overseeing my meals obliging me to choose my food with caution.

CONGER OF THE RISING SUN

6 slices of conger eel
6 slices of fatty bacon
1 caul (casing which will be stuffed)
12 small lettuce leaves
12 oz raw soya beans (or canned soya)
6 teaspoons of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
1 teaspoon of curry powder
Cayenne pepper

First of all, let us prepare the slices of conger eel by removing the skin and the central bone, one by one. Then place the pieces on a strip of bacon (cut to match the size of the piece of eel) and each of these on to a much larger piece of the caul. Add salt and pepper, then, on each piece of the eel, put a leaf of lettuce, on top of which you add 2 oz of soya beans (raw soya is the best, but canned soya will do). Sprinkle then with curry powder, salt, pepper. Pour a teaspoon of heavy cream over it, cover with a second leaf of lettuce and tuck in the caul on the four sides to wrap up all the ingredients of this recipe.

Using a very large skillet cook the fish slices on top of the range, simmering slowly, in a tablespoon of butter for 40 minutes. Be sure to go about it gently. Remove the slices and keep them warm; in the skillet, add the flour. Do not let it get brown; combine with the heavy cream and curry, taste for seasoning. Let it all boil for a little while and pour over the slices of the conger eel.

CRAYFISH CONSOMMÉ

2 ¼ lbs of crayfish (or shrimp)
2 quarts of water
Cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of paprika
saffron
1 lb of veal chopped
4 fistfuls of rice
4 egg yolks

In a big pot you pour the water, salt, a dash of Cayenne pepper, paprika, saffron, chopped veal, and rice.

As soon as the broth begins to boil, crush your crayfish in a mortar, one after the other. Be sure to really crush them to a pulp and add them progressively to the broth. Keep it boiling for 45 minutes.

The broth is then strained “Chinese style” i.e.; in a sieve that you can push with a wooden spoon so as to get all the juice out. Put back on the fire, stir and add the egg yolks without letting it boil. Your consommé is ready. May I suggest that you serve it with thin garlic toasts.

THOUSAND YEAR OLD EGGS

1 dozen eggs
1 ½ quarts of water
5 whole cloves
3 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of vinegar
Tabasco sauce
2 lemons (cut in 8 pieces)
¾ teaspoon of thyme
4 tea-bags
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic

You certainly know these thousand year old eggs, one of the crowns of Chinese cuisine. We will not presume here to reach their ultimate perfection, but we will simply try to help you follow an amusing recipe which has the advantage of being prepared ahead of time.

First, boil the eggs for ten minutes in salted boiling water. Then take them out, put them under cold running water which will make it easier to shell them. In the same water in which the eggs had boiled, add the cloves, sugar, vinegar, a lot of Tabasco sauce, the lemons (cut in eighths) and thyme. Boil for 15 minutes. Shut off the flame, dip in the tea-bag and let them steep for 10 minutes.

In a jar, put the diced onions and garlic. Add the shelled eggs, and pour the broth so that the eggs are completely immersed. Close the jar and keep it on the lower shelf of your refrigerator.

Be patient for three weeks before opening the jar and serving. These eggs go well with cold meats and fish.

TOP ROUND “EROS”

1 tablespoon shortening
1 Toulouse sausage
2 lbs top round
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 anchovies
2 onions sliced
6 tomatoes seeded and cut into pieces
2 red peppers
6 stalks celery
3 quarts water

First buy the sausage then hand it over to your butcher so that he can cut a piece of top round that will wrap around it. Fry the sausage in the shortening for about 10 minutes. Brush the one side of the top round with mustard; put the anchovies on top, then the sausage, roll, tie up with string.

In a Dutch oven, brown the meat in shortening. When the meat turns golden, replace it with the onions, and when they are golden, add the tomatoes as well as the garlic and red peppers.

Cover after a while. The tomatoes will produce a juice and start boiling; put the meat back and salt carefully (because of the anchovies).

Simmer gently for 1 ½ hours.

Pare the celery stalks, cut off the green parts and tips of leaves, peel the root.

Cut it in half and wash thoroughly, especially between the leaves.

Bring salted water to a boil and cook the celery for 15 minutes. Cool under running water. After half an hour, place the celery around the top round.

It will cook in the meat juice for one hour.

CASANOVA COCKTAIL

The juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon bitters (Campari)
1 teaspoon ginger
4 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons old brandy (Vielle Cure)
1 pinch Cayenne pepper

This is quite appropriate when circumstances such as exhaustion, overwork or simply excess of sobriety are calling for a pick-me-up.

Here is a well-tested recipe to fit the bill.

Let us stress another advantage of this particular pep-up concoction is that one doesn’t have to make the sour face that usually accompanies the absorption of a remedy.

At the bottom of a glass, combine pepper and ginger. Pour the bitters on top, then brandy and “Vielle Cure.” Refrigerate or even put in the freezer.

Thirty minutes later, remove from the freezer and stir the juice of the orange into the chilled glass.

Drink… and wait for the effect.

It is rather speedy.

Les Diners de Gala is now so rare that surviving copies, to say nothing of those very rare signed ones, cost a fortune. Complement it with more little-known treasures at the intersection of food and the arts, including The Futurist Cookbook, The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook, Dinah Fried’s beautiful photographs of meals from famous fiction, and Wild Raspberries, the little-known cookbook young Andy Warhol did with his mother.

For more of Dalí’s lesser-known creative projects and commissions, see his illustrations for Don Quixote, the essays of Montaigne, Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet, The Divine Comedy, and the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Thanks, Elena

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16 APRIL, 2014

Fictitious Dishes: Elegant and Imaginative Photographs of Meals from Famous Literature

By:

From James Joyce to Maurice Sendak, by way of weep-worthy jelly and gifted chickens.

Food and literature have a long and arduous relationship, from the Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook to Jane Austen reimagined in recipes to Alice B. Toklas’s literary memoir disguised as a cookbook to those delicious dishes inspired by Alice in Wonderland. But nowhere does that relationship come alive more vividly and enchantingly than in Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals (public library) — an ingenious project by designer and writer Dinah Fried, who cooks, art-directs, and photographs meals from nearly two centuries of famous fiction. Each photograph is accompanied by the particular passage in which the recipe appeared, as well as a few quick and curious factlets about the respective author, novel, or food.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, 1963

'Then I tackled the avocado and crabmeat salad...Every Sunday my grandfather used to bring me an avocado pear hidden at the bottom of his briefcase under six soiled shirts and the Sunday comic.'

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, 1951

'When I’m out somewhere, I generally just eat a Swiss cheese sandwich and a malted milk. It isn’t much, but you get quite a lot of vitamins in the malted milk. H. V. Caulfield. Holden Vitamin Caulfield.'

The project began as a modest design exercise while Fried was attending the Rhode Island School of Design a couple of years ago, but the concept quickly gripped her with greater allure that transcended her original short-term deadline. As she continued to read and cook, a different sort of self-transcendence took place (after all, isn’t that the greatest gift of literature?): A near-vegetarian, she found herself wrestling with pig kidney for Ulysses and cooking bananas eleven ways for Gravity’s Rainbow.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, 1865

'Have some wine,’ the March Hare said in an encouraging tone. Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea.'

On the Road by Jack Kerouac, 1957

'But I had to get going and stop moaning, so I picked up my bag, said so long to the old hotelkeeper sitting by his spittoon, and went to eat. I ate apple pie and ice cream — it was getting better as I got deeper into Iowa, the pie bigger, the ice cream richer.'

The book begins with a beautiful quote from Ray Bradbury’s 1953 classic Fahrenheit 451:

I ate them like salad, books were my sandwich for lunch, my tiffin and dinner and midnight munch. I tore out the pages, ate them with salt, doused them with relish, gnawed on the bindings, turned the chapters with my tongue! Books by the dozen, the score and the billion. I carried so many home I was hunchbacked for years. Philosophy, art history, politics, social science, the poem, the essay, the grandiose play, you name ’em, I ate ’em.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925

'On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold.'

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1910-1911

'Roasted eggs were a previously unknown luxury and very hot potatoes with salt and fresh butter in them were fit for a woodland king—besides being deliciously satisfying.'

Fried, whom I had the pleasure of advising briefly during her graduate thesis at RISD, reflects on her long-term love affair with the culinary details of famous fiction, which possess a unique multi-sensory capacity to transport the reader into a specific world and thus grant the singular gift of exceptionally vivid memories:

Many of my most vivid memories from books are of the meals the characters eat. I read Heidi more than twenty years ago, but I can still taste the golden, cheesy toast that her grandfather serves her, and I can still feel the anticipation and comfort she experiences as she watches him prepare it over the open fire. I remember some meals for the moment they signify within a story: the minty cupcakes that Melissa gives to Chip in The Corrections — a marker of their love affair, which causes Chip’s professional downfall and general unraveling. Other meals have stayed with me for the atmosphere they help convey. Recently, a friend told me that after reading Lolita, he began to drink gin and pineapple juice, a favorite combination of the novel’s narrator, Humbert Humbert. I read Lolita when I was barely older than Lolita herself and was amazed that my friend’s description of the cocktail catapulted me back to the distinct world that Nabokov had created: a sticky New England summer when an intoxicated, lust-lorn Humbert Humbert mows the unruly lawn in the hot sun, pining for Dolores, who is away at camp. Likewise, Melville’s description of steaming chowder in Moby-Dick evokes a vision of Ishmael’s seafaring life: salty, damp ocean air on a dark evening; finding solace in a cozy, warmly lit inn with a toasty dining room filled with good cheer and the rich smell of fresh seafood.

All of Fried’s photographs are immensely thoughtful (Ishmael’s austere dinner from Moby-Dick is not only a nautically appropriate serving of clam chowder, but also appears lit by candlelight), and some bear a distinct undertone of cultural meta-satire (representing A Confederacy of Dunces is the ultimate edible Americana, a hot dog on a classic All-American diner tablecloth).

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, 1980

'Stopping before the narrow garage, he sniffed the fumes from Paradise with great sensory pleasure, the protruding hairs in his nostrils analyzing, cataloging, categorizing, and classifying the distinct odors of the hot dog, mustard, and lubricant.'

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, 1851

'Our appetites being sharpened by the frosty voyage, and in particular, Queequeg seeing his favorite fishing food before him, and the chowder being surpassingly excellent, we despatched it with great expedition…'

In a sentiment reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s parallel between food and intellectual consumption, Fried writes:

Reading and eating are natural companions, and they’ve got a lot in common. Reading is consumption. Eating is consumption. Both are comforting, nourishing, restorative, relaxing, and mostly enjoyable. They can energize you or put you to sleep. Heavy books and heavy meals both require a period of intense digestion. Just as reading great novels can transport you to another time and place, meals — good and bad ones alike — can conjure scenes very far away from your kitchen table. Some of my favorite meals convey stories of origin and tradition; as a voracious reader, I devour my favorite books.

Heidi by Joanna Spyri, 1880

'The kettle soon began to boil, and meanwhile the old man held a large piece of cheese on a long iron fork over the fire, turning it round and round till it was toasted a nice golden yellow color on each side. Heidi watched all that was going on with eager curiosity.'

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, 1915

'There were old, half-rotten vegetables; bones from the evening meal, covered in white sauce that had gone hard; a few raisins and almonds; some cheese that Gregor had declared inedible two days before; a dry roll and some bread spread with butter and salt….'

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, 1971

''You goddamn honkies are all the same.’ By this time he’d opened a new bottle of tequila and was quaffing it down….He sliced the grapefruit into quarters...then into eighths...then sixteenths...then he began slashing aimlessly at the residue.'

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, 1837

'Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity: ‘Please, sir, I want some more.’'

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960

''Gracious alive, Cal, what’s all this?’ He was staring at his breakfast plate. Calpurnia said, ‘Tom Robinson’s daddy sent you along this chicken this morning. I fixed it.’ ‘You tell him I’m proud to get it — bet they don’t have chicken for breakfast at the White House.’'

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, 2005

'She improvised bandages and covered the wound with a makeshift compress. Then she poured the coffee and handed him a sandwich. ‘I’m really not hungry,’ he said. ‘I don’t give a damn if you’re hungry. Just eat,’ Salander commanded, taking a big bite of her own cheese sandwich.'

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust, 1913

'One day in winter, as I came home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, suggested that, contrary to my habit, I have a little tea. I refused at first and then, I do not know why, changed my mind. She sent for one of those squat, plump cakes called petites madeleines…'

But as a hopeless admirer of Maurice Sendak, this is my indisputable favorite:

'Chicken Soup with Rice' by Maurice Sendak, 1962

The final pages of Fictitious Dishes, which is an absolute delight in its entirety, also feature one of the loveliest dedications I’ve ever laid heart on:

Thank you and love to my father, for teaching me to read carefully, and to my mother, for teaching me to look closely.

For a side order of literary deliciousness, see Alexandre Dumas’s rules of dining etiquette and some scrumptious recipes inspired by Jane Austen’s novels.

All photographs courtesy of Dinah Fried

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