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Thursday, August 22, 2013

I'll have a side of crumpets with my buffalo steak!

Read, eat, and repeat. 
This will not be a “literary” discussion of food in books.  I know many consider the act of eating in a novel to be a form of communion.  Eating or sharing a meal is also considered to be symbolic of other acts; leading to topics that would make me blush.  Whatever.  J  I’m going to take a less serious route, here!
Over the years, I’ve found that I’m fascinated by descriptions of foods that appear in the books I read.  As a child I wished I could get my hands on a crumpet and cover it with clotted cream, after reading The Secret Garden.   I never wanted to eat a liverwurst and cream cheese sandwich, but loved the thought of hot cocoa on a windy, storm-filled evening after reading A Wrinkle in Time.  I was surprised to learn that some people like to eat apple pie with a slice of cheese on top, after reading Farmer Boy.  And who wouldn’t want to eat one of “Willy Wonka’s Whipple Scrumptious Fudgmallow Delights?” 
As an adult, thanks to books I’ve read, I’ve become fascinated with cucumber sandwiches, making the perfect Navajo taco, and wonder where I can get my hands on a good buffalo steak.  I’ve also decided I may never eat chocolate cream pie again.  (Thanks a lot, Kathryn Stockett! ) All that aside, I love reading about what other people are eating, even if I’m reading a work of fiction.  We learn quite a lot about other countries, cultures and time periods simply by reading about what they eat.
Over time, my literary food obsession has led me to a new hobby.  I was so fascinated to read about salt pork in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books that about fifteen years ago, when I happened to find some in the store, I bought it.  I wanted the empirical experience of actually eating salt pork.  Results and observations:  salt pork is disgusting.  And it’s nothing more than fatty bacon.  
This initial experiment has led me to more experiments.  I search for recipes and ingredients so I can recreate foods I’ve read about in books.  I’ve prepared and eaten Bubble and Squeak, trifle, Aloo Gobi, and churned my own butter with my Mom’s glass hand-held churn.   I’ve even made an olive oil cake.
Most of my experiments turn out okay.  Some do not.  But honestly, my world has been expanded. 
What foods do you remember reading about, in favorite childhood books or as an adult?  I’d love to hear about it.
(Now if I could just get my hands on some crumpets!!)


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