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Literary Feasts for Children – and Eight Books That Made Me Hungry


The Guardian blog has a great piece today called Literary Feasts for Children, about feasts and food in children’s books. They astutely point out that along with the delight and fun of feasting in the books aimed at kids, there’s a healthy dose of moral and warning as well. It’s an interesting article. However, I prefer the books that embrace a good snack wholeheartedly (wholestomachedly?). I posted this once a long time ago, but here are Eight (Ate!) Books That Made Me Hungry.

To a foodie, a good food scene in a book is better than a good sex scene or car chase or whatever else. These are eight books (no cookbooks allowed) that give good food.

1.Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Okay, this one’s a bit of a ‘gimme’. The whole book’s about food, after all. But still. Yum.

2. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

Breaded pork cutlets on rice with egg and broth, milky tea, soupy rice, delicate radish roses, and of course noodles…so many noodles. This lovely story always makes me hungry. It also makes me happy, and is on my top ten novels of all time list.

3.Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

Parts of this book are pretty gross. The descriptions of Boggis, Bunce and Bean, the three loathsome farmers, comes to mind. As well, the scene in which a bleeding tail stumped is licked clean is not particularly appetizing. That said, there’s plenty to make one’s belly growl in this childhood classic from the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (I thought that one would be too obvious), from storehouses of cured ham and bacon and larder shelvesstocked full of everything you can imagine, to, of course, the fizzy hard cider.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo4. The Godfather Mario Puzo

Another fairly obvious choice, it nevertheless had to make the list. Fresh mozzarella, tomato marinara, prosciutto, veal scallopini….the Corleones and friends eat well. I wouldn’t, for the record, leave the cannoli. Ever.

5. The Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton

I didn’t read too much Enid Blyton as a child (and holy cow she’s written a lot of books), but these ones I remember. It was about a bunch of girls at a boarding school, who got into adventures like leaving school to go to the circus, sneaking a dog into school, and more. and I remember they were always putting together tremendous midnight feasts…cheese and crackers, chocolate, tins of sweets, and all sorts of exotic-sounding British things like cream crackers and fried kippers and spotted dick. The added adventure of sneaking about in the middle of the night made the feasts sound even better.

6.The Mrs. Pollifax Books by Dorothy Gilman

One of the good things about being an international spy is that in between kidnappings and murder attempts and espionage, you get to try some prety great cuisine. Whether Mrs. Pollifax is cooking eggs with garlic and parsley for Cyrus or eating spicy noodles with prawns and peanuts in Chiang Mai, these books always make me hungry. It could be the nonstop action that whets the appetite, too, mind.

7. The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

How could they NOT make anyone hungry? They were educational, like learning how to make maple candy by pouring boiling maple syrup on fresh snow, or colour butter yellow by using grated carrot, and occasionally savage, like boiling and scraping a pig’s skull, and batting the poor porcine bladder around like a balloon afterwards. Still, from the striped candy Pa brought home in a snowstorm to the puffed vanity cakes with icing sugar that Ma made, everything sounded more delicious in a dugout, or a little log cabin, or while Laura sleeps on the trundle bed and baby Carrie is set upon by a plague of locusts.

8. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

I gave my parents this book as a gift for Christmas 2007, and man, all three of us absolutely devoured it. It’s nonfiction, all about local eating, organic eating, cruelty-free eating, farming, canning, and not eating anything out of season. In short, sustainable eating habits. Now that we’re through with the serious part, it’s also delicious, and sprinkled throughout with tips and recipes from Kingsolver, her husband and her daughter Camille. From farm fresh eggs raised by her younger daughter Lily, to fresh pasta sauce, to harvesting asparagus, this book will not only teach you to be more aware of what you eat, it’ll make you excited about it. I definitely had to pause for snacking more than once during my reading.

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Beth Carswell

About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.

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