Those who know me well know that there are generally two things (and two things only) on my mind: books and food. Thus it is safe to assume that when those two things come together – in a novel’s tantalizing dinner description or a particularly lovely ode to fruit – I find bliss. Something quite visceral awakens in me when I read “the knife/sinks/into living flesh,/red/viscera,/a cool/sun/profound,/inexhaustible/populates the salads of Chile…” from Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Tomato, and Elizabeth Alexander’s poem Butter could feed me for days. The town “so rich in poultry,/poor in everything else” from Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s Two Egg, Florida is the dream of every literati and foodie; C. S. Lewis’ Turkish delight seems so sweet, I’d swear I’d held it between my teeth. And don’t even get me started on the meals described in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Woof – I don’t know if I’ll ever live to see a meal so magical.
I think what I enjoy most about the combination of my two great loves is that with both there is a very definite arousal of all my senses. While literature dominates my sense of sight and sound, food then takes over serving my mouth, my nose, and my hands (and on occasion my sense of sight and sound with an onion’s sizzle or the beauty of a ripe pomegranate). The combination of the two provokes my imagination into experiencing all five senses. Both food and literature prompt hunger, thus their fusion transcends a simple feeding of the mind, stimulating the whole body. It is a combination that serves my entire being, one that I enjoy infinitely.
What are your favorite literary feasts?