The Best Food in Fiction
Has reading ever made you hungry?
Food and reading are two of my favourite things, and combining them is even better. But, as much as I love reading non-fiction about food, I also love to read a great description of food in a fiction book. It is always interesting to see how it is portrayed. Food is so central to our existence, it is comfort, it is happiness, it can define us - and, as we can see in the current climate, it is also political.
So, here are 10 novels featuring great food descriptions (just don't forget to read them with a snack):
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
'I know SOMETHING interesting is sure to happen,' she said to herself, 'whenever I eat or drink anything; so I'll just see what this bottle does.'
Strange foods are everywhere in this fantastical classic for children. There's the jam tarts of the Queen of Hearts that causes a confusing trial, Alice's experiments with the food and drink marked 'eat me' and 'drink me', and the Hatter's madcap tea party. Just don't eat the mock turtle soup!
The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan
In Amy Tan's most well-known novel, four Chinese women gather weekly to play mah-jong and eat dim sum. If you enjoy your meals with a side order of complicated mother-daughter relationships, then this is a perfect novel for you.
Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
Cold Comfort Farm is a deliciously funny novel following Flora Poste as she moves into her family's farm in Sussex. This classic is full to bursting with descriptions of warming meals like omelettes, porridge, home-made bread, cherry pie and much more. The ideal comfort food novel.
Chocolat - Joanne Harris
If you've only ever experienced the film version of Chocolat then what a treat you have ahead of you! Vianne Rocher and her daughter, Anouk, move to a village in the South of France and open a chocolate shop, but the village's priest would rather his congregation thought of Lentian abstinence. This book is full of mouth-watering descriptions of all foods but most particularly, chocolate.
Heartburn - Nora Ephron
Cookbook writer Rachel Samstat comforts herself with food after the break-up of her marriage. In one particularly good passage, Rachel throws a key lime pie into someone's face, and then laments that she hadn't used a messier fruit, before including the pie recipe in the book.
If you haven't already, then you should experience this book in audio, as its read by the inimitable Meryl Streep.
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - C S Lewis
Who can forget when they first read Edmund's being tempted into siding with the White Witch with turkish delight? The passage remains just as engaging as an adult in a book full of magic and mystery.
Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe - Debbie Johnson
The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world. It serves up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. Laura slowly becomes herself again as she serves its customers food, and you'll feel just as comforted by reading this book.
The Women at Hitler's Table - Rosella Postorino
In 1943, Hitler was hiding out and paranoid. At 26 years old Rosa Sauer is hired to be one of ten women who taste his food to test for poison. The story is based loosely on the testimony of Maragaret Wölk, and goes into detail about the food Hitler ate and his digestive tract. A different look at an experience of World War Two where every meal could be your last.
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
'Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam.'
From gravy to a huge turkey, what can be said about A Christmas Carol that hasn't been said before? Immerse yourself in this ghost story that steams with delicious food joy.
Can you think of any food in fiction that's real enough to eat? Let us know in the comments!
All of these audiobooks and more are available to borrow from the Listening Books collection.