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5 For Foodie Fiction

April 20, 2011


1. The School of Essential Ingredients– Erica Bauermeister. When I reviewed this for the Ledger, I was just about ready to lick the pages.

From my review: “Erica Bauermeister blends honest characters with evocative food writing. With mouthwatering prose, Bauermeister shifts focus seamlessly in each chapter, to reach back into the lives of Lillian and her students, exploring the smells, tastes and past loves that bring them into the class.”

2. Comfort Food– Kate Jacobs. I loved this warmly quirky set of characters putting together a cooking show so much I stayed up all night reading it. Twice. I loved the characters that much. Especially Gus, trying to show up elegant young Carmen Vega on her cooking show. And Oliver with the shoes. Loved Oliver with the shoes.

3. Liquor- Poppy Z. Brite.

“This novel hit a sweet spot: a perfect intersection of mouth-watering food writing, the raunchy world of restaurant kitchens, vibrantly steamy New Orleans life, and wisecracking characters. A suspenseful, gritty mystery, too.”

4. Like Water For Chocolate– Laura Esquivel. I think this may have been my first exposure to foodie lit, at least as a genre where the food writing is a main event. Food and cooking become a barometer of mood in this excellent, sensual tale.  I read it in high school, and also saw the movie. Both of which enchanted me and blew my mind. In A.P. English class we had to pick a novel to use for the final essay. I picked this- plenty of emotional conflict, imagery that meant something, plus multicultural roots. And then I had to come up with at least seven euphemisms for “had sex” to describe the plot.

5. Little House in the Big Woods– Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although I have since had an opportunity to try head cheese, and found it distinctly creepy-tasting, the descriptions of maple sugaring, and other frontier feasts have stuck with me all these years. It’s simple food. But well described.

There- that’s five. I bet I could do this list three more times and come up with new books. To say nothing of memoir.

What are your favorite tales where food is a main character?


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