11 March 2013

Books, Food and Gardens

Whenever I read novels, I always pay special attention to two things: the gardens and landscapes that are featured in the narrative (such as the rose-laden hedgerows of Howards End) and the meals the characters have laid before them (like the enticing teas from Dickens or Austen).

Knowing well my love for gardening, reading and cooking, my mother gave me two books that incorporate all three.

The Book Lover's Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature, and the Passages That Feature Them
Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen [Ballantine Books 2005]

Chapter headings ... 
Main and Side Dishes 
Soups - Salads 
Appetizers, Breads
and Other Finger Foods 

With recipes from the likes of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Charlotte's Web, Little Women, The Great Gatsby and Gone with the Wind.

"For anyone who has wanted to taste the food that plays a role in their favorite books, this charming volume provides the recipes. Sprinkled throughout with marvelous anecdotes about writers and writing, the book is a culinary and literary delight, a browser's cornucopia of reading pleasure, and a true inspiration in the kitchen."

The Literary Garden: Recreating Literatures Most Beautiful Gardens
Duncan Brine [Berkeley Trade 2002]

Some authors featured ...

"When a writer imagines a garden, he asks his reader to make a leap with him. He invites the reader to see the rose or smell the scent of magnolia.  The reader is more than willing to go along. What if we tried to turn a garden of words into an actual living garden?"


How lovely to plant seeds for flowers or herbs featured in a favorite novel.... lovage, petunias, or lavender blue hyacinth. Or to treat myself to Gone with the Wind  Buckwheat pancakes for breakfast;  or Buttermilk Scones at teatime from James Herriot's All Thing Bright and Beautiful; or a lunch or supper of Chicken and Dumplings from Fried Green Tomatoes.

So often the foods and landscapes are integral to setting the mood of certain works of literature; and these two lovely books are a way to recreate for myself the sensations that come over me when these evocative passages are enjoyed.


  1. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I love yours and am following now. I too like the gardens and food in books and have often hunted up recipes. I've found Mrs. Beeton's cookbook good for Victorian type recipes. I just got a cookbook for Vintage cakes and am going to make a couple for my Mom's birthday party.

    I love Lara Spencer. Just last weekend I watched a special of her decorating her friend's living room,and most of main floor. Gorgeous! I love thrifting and making new things out of old. J

  2. These books look wonderful!! Good luck with the apple coffee cake!