Last autumn, I had the pleasure of visiting family in England and staying with my cousin and her husband in their cozy 16th century home in a tiny East Sussex village not far from the town of Lewes.
On a chilly, clear evening after a full day of walking and exploring the area, my cousin prepared us a warm, delicious meal of daube and homemade bread accompanied by a glass of hearty red wine. Our dinner conversation started with “What is daube?” – a classic Provençal beef stew – and “Where did you get the recipe?” – from French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David. By the way, Virginia Woolf (who had a weekend home in Lewes and sadly drowned in the nearby River Ouse) wrote about ‘Boeuf en Daube’ in her 1927 novel To the Lighthouse.
“… an exquisite scent of olives and oil and juice rose from the great brown dish as Marthe, with a little flourish, took the cover off. The cook had spent three days over that dish. And she must take great care, Mrs. Ramsay thought, diving into the soft mass, to choose a specially tender piece for William Bankes. And she peered into the dish, with its shiny walls and its confusion of savoury brown and yellow meats and its bay leaves and its wine …”
Books make great dinner conversation, and this Thanksgiving, when a certain family member starts going on a little too long about whatever, how about interjecting “Book challenge! What books have you read that feature the savory writing of a meal or dessert?”
Here are a few to start you thinking:
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust – Madeleine cookies
On the Road by Jack Kerouac – Apple pie and ice cream
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville – Clam and cod chowder
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – Avocados
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen – Cupcakes
Or, better yet, “What food would you pair with your favorite book?”
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole – Hot dogs
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Pancakes
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – Lobster roll
News of the World by Paulette Jiles – Texas barbecue
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro – …I am still thinking on this one
What books will you discuss at your Thanksgiving meal?
Susan is Creative Coordinator at HPB Corporate in Dallas TX.