Thursday, February 01, 2007

READING: Eating Words: Sample Delicious Literature

Reading: Eating Words: Sample Delicious Literature

Food sustains and heals us, brings us joy, occupies time and brings people together. As such an integral part of life, it is no wonder that food is the focus of so much reflection. Many great authors have combined their gift for observation and cooking to write thoughtful, often amusing, books about life, love and food. Here's a taste.

The late Laurie Colwin put into words what many feel about friendships, family, love, joy, sorrows and food. Two of her books, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, are collections of writings from Gourmet Magazine, in which she offers recipes and personal musings on food. Her thoughts on homemade gingerbread after school, eggs sunny-side-up, roast chicken and black bean soup all speak volumes to the reader about her life.

"On the surface her novels and stories are modest, as deceptively simple as a plate of fresh biscuits. But take a bite, and you discover a subtle, perfectly executed balance of tenderness and tang," said book reviewer Laura Shapiro of Ms. Colwin and her writing.

Frances Mayes takes her reader to the vibrant region of Italy called Tuscany. In two books, Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany, she, an American, chronicles life in a new country where food and wine are synonymous with life. In this country where family and friends gather for much of the afternoon to dine, she learns to make olive oil, finds that the skin of peaches peels off like a fine silk slip, fires up her Tuscan kitchen and doesn't feel guilty about napping at 9:00am.

In France, like in Italy, good food and wine is a way of life. Peter Mayle explores the beauty of Provence, its people, tranquil lifestyle and sumptuous cuisine in A Year in Provence. Illustrating just how important food is to the people of this lush land, he says their "sole concession to punctuality" is lunch.

The author of Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel, begins each chapter with a recipe and continues telling a sensuous story of longing, unrequited love, family obligation and adventures in food.

The Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin is a compilation of three of the author's musings on food: American Fried, Alice Let's East and Third Helpings. "Trillin will be enjoyed by anyone who admires good writing, even those readers who are not especially partial to food writing," said the American Library Association's BookList.

In Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, author Ruth Reichl, takes you on the journey of her love affair with food. From her early days of trying to prevent her mother from giving everyone food poisoning to her many years as the New York Times restaurant critic, food has played a significant role in Reichl's life. Now as the editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine, she continues to regale her audience with tales of fine cuisine.

From dessert at an Indian restaurant to really good barbecue, Jeffrey Steingarten, former food critic for Vogue, has strong opinions about food. He has spent days baking the perfect loaf of bread, adores french fries and struggles with basting poultry. Steingarten shares all of these experiences and more in his book The Man Who Ate Everything. Books@Random offers a summary and excerpts of the book.

Perhaps of all those for whom food is a muse, M.F.K. Fischer is the most well-known. She has been called the "doyenne of food writers." Through her books such as The Art of Eating, The Gastronomic Man, Here Let Us Feast and How to Cook a Wolf, she has truly explored the world of food and its relationship to life. Of cooking she says, "No recipe in the world is independent of the tides, the moon, the physical and emotional temperatures surrounding its performance."

For more musings on food and life, check out Between Meals: Writing About Food. Though it does not provide summaries or reviews of the books, it is a helpful resource list.


  1. Hi teacher Vanessa,

    Thank you for this piece of writing. I greedily read it in hope to inspire an original tittle of my future blog.

  2. It is so interesting that I want to read more about it. I just requested some of the books that you have mentioned in your writing from the library. I think I will recieve them few days later. Just can not wait to read it.

  3. We the food lover try to peep whereever we find some word like delicious. In our country there is a proverb 'if you want to conquer the human heart go through his or her stomach'. I will try to check 'The art of eating' in our library. Thanks for keep informing us with so many unknown things.

  4. First, let me apologize for not including credits and link to the "eating words" article that I found on Book Spot, where you will find many good articles and resources about books and reading. Here's one on Classic Cookbooks.

    But isn't so much easier and more fun to read about something we are interested in?

    Sayings about food:

    "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach," is the English version of this popular proverb. I bet there is a version in most other languages. Am I right?

    Here are some other food sayings or proverbs:

    "Hunger is the best sauce."

    "When one is hungry everything tastes good."

    "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

    "Half a loaf is better than none."

    "Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper."

    In Egypt I heard the saying, "the poor eat to live and the rich live to eat," which I've since heard in reference to characters in 19th century Russian literature.

    Food idioms & sayings from Learn English
    Anyone got more food proverbs to share?

  5. Vanessa

    I can't understand the meaning of "Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper."

    Would you explain what it means?


  6. Sadamu

    Please stop thinking in terms absolute meanings or that someone should tell you what something means whenever it's difficult to understand.

    Instead, think about what steps you can take to work out POSSIBLE meanings on your own. That's the other part - not expecting that every expression has one absolute meaning. With figurative expressions, that is IMPOSSIBLE.

    Proverbs, sayings, idiomatic expressions, and even slang are like poetry that way: they are figurative rather than literal. So instead of looking for an exact meaning that does not exist, work on interpretations.

    What does "hope for breakfast" suggest? What does "hope for supper" suggest? (hint: it might suggest going to bed on an empty stomach & hoping you might do better tomorrow)

    So, what else can you come up with?

  7. Hello
    Teacher Vanessa,

    We have lots of food proverbs in our language, but those are good to hear only our language if I translate it in english they will lose their actual meaning. A popular proverb we have about a dessert which is very famous sweet in Delhi named "Laddu". The proverb is "Delhi's laddo who ate he repays for that and who did not eat he also repays for that" We often compare this proverb with marriage.Marriage is like a 'Delhi ka Laddo'.

  8. Hi Calendrula,

    Thanks for mentioning Delhi's Laddu. They are my favourite (Besan ke Laddu). Bundi Laddus are also delicious. It is often said in Delhi that one who hasn't eaten SAMOSA/Jalebi of Delhi, has not eaten anything. Same is with Paranthas of Paranthewali Street in Old Delhi, near Red Fort, Delhi. Paranthewali street is the one of the oldest streets in Delhi offering their unique Paranthes right from the time of Mughals in 18th century.



  9. Vanessa

    Thank you very much for your explanations on the saying. I got wiser.

    I'll try to work on interpretations.


  10. Nandita (aka Calendrula) & Rajeev - PLEASE describe laddu for the rest of us. The same goes for other dishes unique to Indian or other cuisines. Don't assume that your readers know what they are like.

    Meaning can get lost in some translations: it does not have to though. Therefore, Nandita, you must translate well - into as correct English as possible. Also, you should at least attempt to explain the sayings you refer to, just as you would to a guest in your country who asked.

    The word order in "Delhi's laddo who ate he repays for that and who did not eat he also repays for that" does not follow standard English syntax, which makes it harder to understand. Following standard English word order in sentences, begin with the subject - not the object of the verb (to eat). Here too, I think using the present tense will make the proverb easier to follow - as an punctuation.

    "He who eats (wants to eat) a Delhi laddo must pay for it; he who does not, also pays."

    Does this make the saying clearer? I see a number of interpretation possibilities but want to hear from the rest of you.

    Obviously, if we want something, we have to pay for it one way or another. Not all payment is in money either. But we have the enjoyment of eating the laddo. If we do not, then we pay by missing out on a real treat (or by extension, something desirable0>

    What are some other possible interpretations?

  11. Sadamu

    Don't "tell" me - DO IT. Your post should have included at least one possible meaning for "Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper."

    By the way, I expect the rest of the class to be working on this too.

  12. Hello
    Teacher Vanessa,

    Sorry for late reply, the way you said our popular proverb it completely clears the real meaning.
    Frankly speaking I am not aware of other cuisine sweet products as I do not like sweets but this 'Laddu'. Laddoo looks like pingpong ball. There are lot of varieties,it is made with gram flour with sugar and butter, one is made with cottage cheese with sugar . These are the basic things we need to make but how the real taste come I am totally ignorant about that.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...