Thanks to everyone who participated in this competition. I enjoyed reading your edible experiences, real or literary.
The entry that stood out was from HerbalTee in C’burg. Herbal, that was a fine passage, and I especially liked the description of the Christmas pudding. I can picture it, and the Cratchit family’s sighs as they ate the treat. A great literary choice. Send your address to email@example.com and I will get that book sent out to you pronto.
There will be another book giveaway at the end of the month, a special one I’ve been saving for Halloween. I hope you’ll join in!
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I love food.
I love to eat, I love to cook, I love to bake, flip through recipe books, enter random ingredients into Google and see what recipes pop up. (Did you know people put together blackcurrants and salmon?)
Food plays an integral role in some books — such as “Big Brother” by Lionel Shriver — and adds delicious detail in others. Think of Harry’s wonder at the feast that starts his first term at Hogwarts, Katniss’ drooling over the lamb dish in “The Hunger Games,” Jane Eyre staring miserably at her meager portion of porridge at Lowood school.
When I think of food and books, I go immediately to Brian Jacques, one of my favorite childhood authors. Jacques is best known for his Redwall books, a series that centers on Redwall Abbey. The abbey dwellers are peaceful mice, squirrels, moles and other woodland creatures who often find themselves under siege by marauders who see it as a plum prize. There are 22 books in the series and they will appeal to any child with an adventurous spirit.
Jacques grew up during World War II. As an author, he reveled in food he couldn’t have as a child. He is both inventive and descriptive when it comes to his characters’ meals. Consider this from “Outcast of Redwall”:
“Well, we know that otters like their hotroot soup with watershrimp, leek, onions and plenty of hotroot,” Bryony explained to the feasters, “but we have our friends the squirrels to consider. Their favourite is the treetop broth made from maple tips, acorns, beechnuts, green apples and horse chestnuts. So, my friends and I combined both, adding a few ingredients of our own. Two beakers of parsley wine, a touch of ramson and some winter rosehips.”
It’s just a few sentences about soup, but think of the flavors the passage evokes — the bold tang of hotroot soup, the earthy, slightly sweet taste of squirrels’ soup, and the fresh zing of parsley and garlic that Bryony adds. I’m not saying it would taste good all together, but Jacques uses precise language to appeal to our sense of taste.
The book I’m giving away this week is about food, but it’s not fiction and it’s not a cookbook. It’s “Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal” by Abigail Carroll. Carroll examines the evolution of the American meal from the Colonists to present day, and the effects of industrialization, class and convenience. Roanoke Times reviewer Michael L. Ramsey calls the book “an entertaining history lesson” and “one course you will enjoy.” I think it sounds like a superb book for anyone who loves food and history.
To be eligible to win, answer either of these questions: What’s your favorite food-related scene from a book? Or, what’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten? (It doesn’t have to be the best; terrible meals are very memorable and can make great stories.) If you can use the sensory detail Brian Jacques uses, more power to you.
Gotta go. I’m hungry.