9 Mouthwatering (And Sometimes Mystifying) Mentions Of Food In Literature

food-literature

Descriptions of food in literature can run the gamut from perfunctory and practical to unctuous and sensual. Much like in real life, the consumption of a meal can be quick and efficient, a mere means of supplying the body with energy; or, it can be something to be indulged in, slaved over, lavished with delicious purple praise. Below are a few examples of my favorite food cameos in literature: the languishing, prophetically poetic (a food list without Sweetbitter is a fraud); the staccato, plain delivery of food as fact; the surprisingly disgusting; the viscerally nostalgic; and everything in between.

1. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath

41jzamcvvml“Saturday exhausted, nerves frayed. Sleepless. Threw you, book, down, punched with fist. Kicked, punched. Violence seethed. Joy to murder someone, pure scapegoat. But pacified during necessity to work. … Baked a lemon meringue pie, cooled lemon custard and crust on cold bathroom windowsill, stirring in black night and stars. Set table, candles, glasses sparkling crystal barred crystal on yellow woven cloth … Shaping a meal, people, I grew back to joy.”

Amazon / B&N / Indiebound

.

2. The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink

“That51iledrzisl train of thought may have been inspired by his choice of “sausage salad,” a salad made almost entirely of bologna and raw onions drizzled with vinegar. He piled it on to slices of bread with a knife and ate it in a way that was hard to watch. I had forgotten all about men with simple tastes. When a guy sets you on a life list with blatantly aspirational qualities, you feel exclusive, but maybe all you did was say yes the way the bottle of Chateau Lafite says yes when he takes it down from the rack.”

Amazon / B&N / Indiebound

3. Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

51zbgihqmul“Sometimes a banana with coffee is nice. It ought not to be too ripe – in fact there should be a definite remainder of green along the stalk, and if there isn’t, forget about it. Though admittedly that is easier said than done. Apples an be forgotten about, but not bananas, not really. They don’t in fact take at all well to being forgotten about. They wizen and stink of putrid and go almost black.”

Amazon / B&N / Indiebound

.

4. Ulysses by James Joyce

338798“… for Gerty was womanly wise and knew that a mere man liked that feeling of hominess. Her griddlecakes done to a golden-brown hue and queen Ann’s pudding of delightful creaminess had won golden opinions from all because she had a lucky hand also for lighting a fire, dredge in the fine self-raising flour and always stir in the same directions, then cream the milk and sugar and whisk well the whites of eggs though she didn’t like the eating part when there were many people that made her shy and often she wondered why you couldn’t eat something poetical like violets or roses…”

Amazon / B&N / Indiebound

5. The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

5131hhbocal“She opened the McRib box and eyed the dark red, sticky sandwich. Suddenly she felt like an animal; she wanted to drag the sandwich somewhere, not anywhere in this McDonald’s, not a booth, not Playland, but to a park, a shrouded corner of the woods underneath shimmering tree branches, green, dark, and serene, and then, when she was certain she was completely alone, she wanted to tear that sandwich apart with her teeth.”

Amazon / B&N / Indiebound

.

 6. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

41o52y2tk8l“The object of the walk was a wild vineyard where the muscadine grew. Too new, too tight to have much sugar, they were eaten anyway. None of them wanted—not then—the grape’s relinquishing of all its dark juice. The restraint, the holding off, the promise of sweetness that had yet to unfold, excited them more than full ripeness would have done. At last their teeth were on edge, and the boys diverted themselves by pelting the girls with the grapes. Their slim black boy wrists made G clefs in the air as they executed the tosses. The chase took Cholly and Darlene away from the lip of the gully and when they paused for breath, Jake and Suky were nowhere in sight. Darlene’s white cotton dress was stained with juice. Her big blue hair bow had come undone, and the sundown breeze was picking it up and flittering it about her head. They were out of breath and sank down in the green-and-purple grass on the edge of the pine woods. Cholly lay on his back panting. His mouth full of the taste of muscadine, listening to the pine needles rustling loudly in their anticipation of rain.”

Amazon / B&N / Indiebound

7. Vintage by David Baker

51npeqelpnl“Bouillabaisse. This classic peasant stew was originally designed to stretch bonier and cheaper fish into a meal, but the addition of crushed garlic, herbs and fresh vegetables in balance proportion have rendered it the poor fisherman’s gift to humanity. Bouillabaisse has sent many a Marseilles sailor to sea with a strong back and a full belly, but it can also work wonders on a broken heart. It is a comeback meal, and with a dash of cayenne and saffron, even the most battered hearts can be restored with enough vigor to again brave the turbulent and storm-ridden waters of love.”

Amazon / B&N / Indiebound

8. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

41k0x5oroxl“I had a ritual—and having any ritual sounded so mature that I told everyone about it, even the regulars. On my days off I woke up late and went to the coffee shop and had a cappuccino and read. Then around five p.m., when the light was failing, I would take out a bottle of dry sherry and pour myself a glass, take out a jar of green olives, put on Miles Davis, and read the wine atlas. I didn’t know why it felt so luxurious, but one day I realized that ritual was why I had moved to New York—to eat olives and get tipsy and read about Nebbiolo while the sun set. I had created a life that was bent in service to all my personal cravings.”

Amazon / B&N / Indiebound

9. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

513mxob7axl“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”

Amazon / B&N / Indiebound

 

(Featured photo: Alissa Anton/Unsplash)

GET GLOMMABLE DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX!



There are no comments

Add yours