An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals
This is a most unusual and intriguing little gem of a book. I would call it a coffee table book, for that is where it belongs in any sort of book-lovers home, but it is small, a mere 6 x 8.4 inches. Nevertheless, it packs a big punch and is sure to be a terrific conversation starter. It was in my house.
Fried started this project while earning her MFA in graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design. In her introduction, she talks about how food in books has always been so memorable for her, so she decided to create and photograph some of the most memorable meals in literature.
I loved how she compares eating and reading; both are consumed, both can transport you, or this: “Heavy books and heavy meals both require a period of intense digestion.” There’s more, and it’s funny and illuminating.
But the meat of the book, if you will, are the photos. Each page has a photo of the meal on one side, and the opposing page has information about the book. Fried really excels at parsing literature down to one bite. She includes a quote from the book that inspired the meal, some fun facts about the book or the author or the food, like Hemingway’s favorite drink was the martini, or from The Namesake, that Rice Krispie Treats first appeared a decade after the cereal debuted in 1928. Also included is a book summary, an annotated list of the titles used.
Some are obvious, like the Madeleines from Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way or the bucket of blueberries from Robert McCloskey’s children’s classic, Blueberries for Sal. All are imaginative, whether she is drawing on contemporary literature (The Corrections, Motherless Brooklyn) or a classic (Ulysses, Oliver Twist.) One of the most inspired probably has to be The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Fried says she collected food and let it rot for weeks to create this photo.
There are several children’s books represented as well, like The Secret Garden, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland and more.
All told there are fifty books imagined and pictured. I really enjoyed this book – it would make a fine gift for the reader in your life.
5/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
FICTITIOUS DISHES by Dinah Fried. Harper Design (April 15, 2014). ISBN 978-0062279835. 128p.