Ever stumble across a passage in a book describing a meal or special treat so chock full of excellent descriptors your mouth is left watering? With the right authors, food is expertly woven into a book’s pages, bringing the reader straight to the scene.
In both children’s and adult’s literature, descriptive scenes or fictional meals can leave vivid memories behind. Many of these food scenes are sourced from classics or modern classics that have been brought to life on screen through films or television making the imaginative picture of the food at hand that much more tangible.
Below is a list of both children’s and adult’s book picks that immortalize a certain kind of food with such tangible description, they’re hard to forget. Each book is paired with an accompanying cookbook containing recipes that bring these foods to life. All are available at a Poudre Libraries or online with your Library Card.
Children’s Gourmet Picks
By J.K Rowling
Recipe – Butterbeer from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
In the unforgettable 3rd book of the Harry Potter series, an iconic wizarding world beverage first comes to life. Thanks to stubborn Uncle Dursley refusing to sign a permission form allowing Harry to visit Hogsmeade with his fellow 3rd year students, Harry is left depending on his friend’s descriptions to picture the village.
“”What’s Hogsmeade like? Where did you go?”
By the sound of it- everywhere. Dervish and Banges, the wizarding equipment shop, Zonko’s Joke Shop, into the Three Broomsticks for foaming mugs of hot butterbeer, and many places besides.”
Mentioned throughout the series – butterbeer is a Harry Potter staple and could also be sipped while enjoying the 2004 film.
By Roald Dahl
Recipe – Chocolate Blackout Cake from Everything Chocolate
One of Dahl’s most unforgettable literary scenes (though there are many) is one including the boy Bruce Bogtrotter. A relatively forgettable character who conquered a great task, Bogtrotter is forced to eat an entire chocolate cake in front of his classmates as a form of punishment from Principal Trunchbull.
“When he had finished the second slice, he looked at the Trunchbull, hesitating. “Eat!” she shouted. “Greedy little thieves who like to eat cake must have cake! Eat faster boy! Eat faster!“
Consuming an entire chocolate cake sounds good in theory though less so in practice, especially in front of one’s peers. This book was also made into a film (1996) which truly recreates this scene.
By Roald Dahl
Recipe – Peach Blueberry Slab Pie from Pie Academy
Just in time for the end of Colorado’s excellent Palisade Peach season, recreate some of the enchantment from Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach by baking up a fresh peach pie. Though James and his friends never gather to make or eat a pie from the massive peach itself, this recipe emulates the magic.
“The sun was shining brightly out of a soft blue sky and the day was calm. The giant peach, with the sunlight glinting on its side, was like a massive golden ball sailing upon a silver sea.”
Colorado peaches are excellent, though it’s a fortunate thing they don’t grow large enough to be floating yachts to New York City.
By Laura Numeroff
Recipe – Chocolate Chunk Caramel Sea Salt Cookies from The Magnolia Bakery Handbook
This book instills a moral surrounding the consequences of greed while also speaking to children (perhaps though subconscious code) on elements of parenting and how demanding little ones can be sometimes!
“If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk. When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw. When he’s finished, he’ll ask you for a napkin.”
Forewarning – if you make the cookies, friends or family may ask you to make them a cake and then a dinner and then a buffet large enough to feed all Colorado State University students.
Adult’s Gourmet Picks
By Elizabeth Gilbert
Recipe: Margherita Pizza from The Mozza Cookbook
This non-fiction memoir was an instant hit after it was first published in 2006. Documenting her post-divorce journey, Gilbert travels to Italy, India and Indonesia. The “Eat” portion of the book in Italy details incredible plates of pasta, rich gelato and of course – pizza.
“I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair.”
Her detailed pizza descriptions are a perfect match for the joy and comfort often found in one cheesy slice. The Mozza Cookbook includes over 20 pages of creative pizza recipes from renowned chef Nancy Silverton.
By Fannie Flag
Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes from Fried & True
This fiction novel with a murder mystery twist centers around a café serving up classic Southern fare though it touches on much more than food. Commentary on race relations and feminism in the Deep South in the late 1920s and early 1930s are integral to this book. These societal observations are sourced from main characters and those passing in and out of the café on a daily basis.
“There before her was a plate of perfectly fried green tomatoes and fresh cream-white corn, six slices of bacon, with a bowl of baby lima beans on the side and four huge light and fluffy buttermilk biscuits.”
The delicious descriptions of the Southern fare at the café throughout the novel may leave the reader craving something heavier to go along with the simultaneously hefty themes of the novel.
By Julie Powell
Recipe: Bouef Bourguignon from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Chronicling a literal food pilgrimage through Julia Child’s famous cookbook, Powell cooks her way through an incredible amount of butter-rich, delectable food. Boeuf Bourguignon (or Red Wine Beef Stew) is the centerpiece of one of the more integral scenes of Powell’s rise in the food world.
“Making it that night felt like falling into a time warp- I stood before the stove, melting butter and browning meat and smelling the smells of wine deglazing and shallots softening.”
Like in the book (and movie), it is this blog’s author’s simultaneous recommendation that the stew have more salt.
By Ruth Reichel
Recipe: Gruyere Gougeres (Cheese Puffs), Garlic and Sapphires
This excellent non-fiction novel documents the true story of New York Times Food Critic Ruth Reichl and her unique strategy of reviewing restaurants. First, in full blown disguise and then again as herself. The book documents her experiences as a “regular” person vs a high-profile critic on the New York City food scene.
“Time slows down in the kitchen, offering up an entire universe of small satisfactions.”
The book itself also includes many of Reichl’s own recipes including melt in your mouth Gougeres or Cheese Puffs.