While leafing through the morning newspaper a couple of days ago, something caught my attention. Something related to the two things that most of us thrive on- books and food (let’s just sideline the whole roti, kapda, makaan are the 3 basic needs argument for a while).
Books and food go way back… Remember, Winnie the Pooh’s honey pot, Enid Blyton’s treacle, The Mad Hatter’s and March Hare’s tea party? Food has always been mentioned in books. However, the tables have turned now, and books are being mentioned in food nowadays.
Wednesday’s HT City was carrying an article titled ‘Literary supper club pairs food with books’, and the whole idea of it seemed phenomenal! The article focuses on ‘The Bookish Banquet’, which was started by chef Chantal Hintze in Amsterdam. Being a bookworm by nature and a chef by profession, she started hosting book-themed dinners. Now, themed lunches/ dinners aren’t such a new thing, since there are many themed restaurants around the world, but the idea of actually reading a book, and then eating food that’s supposed to represent instances from the book sounds quite ‘novel’ (pun intended). She’s conducted quite a few such dinners, on themes such as ‘Life of Pi’, ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’, ‘Momo’ (If you’re wondering whether there were momos on the menu, then the answer is no :P), and is organizing one in may based on ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams . The menu of these dinners is posted on their website, and it seems to be as interesting as the books it is based on.
Another combination of food and books that started on similar lines in 2012, is ‘Literary Dinners’, wherein book readings are enhanced by hosting dinners alongside. The readers are called to select locations in keeping with the theme of the book, offered a theme- based dinner, which is then followed by a discussion between the author and the readers, on the book in question. For example, Alex Preston, the author of The Revelations hosted his dinner at the Dissenter’s Chapel at Kensel Green Cemetry, which is mentioned in his book. Such experiences enhance the reader’s understanding into what the author was trying to convey, to a greater extent. It provides a more realistic experience of living the character’s life as opposed to the vicarious experience that one gets by reading in the comfort of one’s home.
On the whole, such trends indicate that with a little bit of creativity, we can make something good, like reading into something that is amazing. Food and stories, both are volatile things, and can be moulded easily as per different moods. Not only can they be moulded according to different moods, but also possess the ability to turn moods around. Thus, a cocktail of literature and food is bound to be the ‘in’ thing for quite some time. So choose a book, call a few friends over, and cook up a classic!