When reading makes you hungry…

I defy anyone to read Joanne Harris’s novel Chocolat without reaching for a slab of chocolate. This month, I take a look at some authors who include sumptuous descriptions of food in their writing.

Enid Blyton made coconut macaroons, treacle tart, hot fresh scones and lashings of ginger beer sound delicious. The Famous Five sat down to some huge meals and enjoyed every morsel.

A large ham sat on the table, and there were crusty loaves of new bread alongside great slabs of butter and jugs of creamy milk. Crisp lettuces, dewy and cool, and red radishes were side by side in a big glass dish.

– Five Go Off in a Caravan by Enid Blyton

You may recall when Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was read aloud on Jackanory by Bernard Cribbins in1968. From three-meal chewing gum to the delights of a chocolate river, the descriptions of sweets and goodies are an essential thread throughout the book.

Mr. Willy Wonka can make marshmallows that taste of violets, and rich caramels that change colour every ten seconds as you suck them, and little feathery sweets that melt away deliciously the moment you put them between your lips. He can make chewing gum that never loses its taste, and sugar balloons that you can blow up to enormous sizes before you pop them with a pin and gobble them up.

– Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat Pray Love. Her descriptions of food are sublime, especially this one about pizza.

On top, there is a sweet tomato sauce that foams up all bubbly and creamy when it melts the fresh buffalo mozzarella, and the one sprig of basil in the middle of the whole deal somehow infuses the entire pizza with herbal radiance. It’s technically impossible to eat this thing of course. You try to take a bit off your slice and the gummy crust folds, and the hot cheese runs away like topsoil and makes a mess of you and your surroundings.

 Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

In Walking Alone, David Richards sets off to walk the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James) across northern Spain. My own experience of the hike was an immense gratitude for the pilgrim menus, often for as little as €10 per person, which were home-cooked using local ingredients, perfect for replacing the energy after a day of walking. In Burgos, David orders local black pudding as a starter then tucks into chicken stew. 

The food tasted marvellous, black olives and a rich tomato sauce making the chunks of chicken succulent and tasty. He wiped the plate with bread, soaking up the herby juices, wishing he could speak enough Spanish to ask for the recipe. 

 Walking Alone, Catherine Finch

Enjoy your reading this spring and if you find any examples of food descriptions that you love, do let me know!