I think that my love of cooking grew out of my love of reading about cooking. When I was a kid, we had a bookcase in the kitchen filled with cookbooks. I would eat all my meals reading about meals I could have been having.
We all develop personal relationships with books. As you read, you develop, almost unconsciously, what the heroine looks like. Or particular passages stand in your mind as shorthand for the whole book. Or a phrase sticks for no reason you can identify.
These are not the themes and motifs of our English teachers, but our own little illuminations of character, place, or plot. And nothing illuminates like food–revealing of class, obsessions, options, and situation. Remember Mr. Woodhouse who offers his guests gruel while his daughter Emma, offers more conventional hospitality and sweetmeats? The meal shows us he is not miserly but concerned for their health, and we see at base, that Emma has good sense.
In this book of passages and pictures, designer and educator Dinah Fried illustrates the library. They’re all here–Gatsby’s “glistening hors d’oeuvres,” Ishmael’s bowl of chowder with its “small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts,” and Beezus’ confounding jelly in her mashed potatoes.
You may quibble with Fried’s choices–the slashed grapefruits from Fear and Loathing look far too neat, and how could she leave out Harriet the Spy’s tomato sandwich?! But that’s actually part of the book’s fun, you can immerse yourself in your favorites all over again. Her image of Turkish Delight in the snow sent me zinging back to the town library of my childhood where I borrowed The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and made a note to get myself some of this amazing confection. If a 10-year old can have a bucket list, Turkish Delight was on mine.
My favorite image is the feast of garbage that Grete Samsa collects for her metamorphosed brother, Gregor, and how, in the passage, he eats it like a gourmet, determinedly pushing away the fresh food in favor of cheese and sauce.