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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Food and Drink and Reading

Though avid readers might like to claim they feast on books, it is not possible to survive without food and drink.  For that reason it is not surprising that descriptions of food find their way into literature, and I have blogged about the topic in the past:  “Nearly any great book has moments of food in it, not just because characters have to eat, but because our relationship with food exposes so much about our identities, cultures, time, and place. What author forsakes a tool that can explore all that?” (

A couple of years ago, The Telegraph did a feature on “10 Great Meals in Literature” (, though I was surprised to see Oliver Twist’s breakfast of watery gruel described as a “great” meal. 

There is a book about food in literature that I’ve been wanting to get for my library:  Pleasures of the Table by Christina Hardyment.  The New Yorker had a review of the book ( and I’ve wanted it ever since.  

Here’s a description of the book:  “The anthology begins with examples of hospitality, ranging from Chaucer's convivial Franklin to Walter Scott's bountiful breakfasts and dinner with Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Ramsay. Next comes eating to impress—dazzling banquets from Flaubert to F. Scott Fitzgerald—and some great fictional love feasts. Many of our most vivid memories of food in literature were laid down in childhood, and nostalgia is to the fore in such classic scenes as Pinocchio aching with hunger, Ratty and Mole picnicking, enchanted Turkish delight in Narnia, and a seaside picnic from Enid Blyton. A section on distant times and places ranges from seethed tortoise in ancient China to seal’s liver fried in penguin blubber as a treat for Captain Scott. Those who relish simplicity rather than excess will enjoy Sdney Smith’s delicate salad dressing and Hemingway’s appreciation of oysters.” 

Like many other people, I enjoy sipping on a glass of wine while reading, so I enjoyed this article about wine and book pairings:

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