Food for Thought | Newberry

Food for Thought

There is still time, I suppose, for you to run your own Edible Book Contest. They have no real national association you’d need to satisfy: the only guideline is that it should be somewhere around April 1, as that is the birthday of the immortal food writer Brillat-Savarin (and check out, someday, what Will Cuppy had to say about HIM.)

But the Newberry has held its version, and a wonderful advert for a Book Fair it was, as a lot of people seemed to turn immediately to books they had to read in school. We had two versions of Conrad’s Hearts of Darkness (one involving squid ink pasta and one involving dark chocolate: both winners in the eyes of the judges and mouths of the audience), a Canterbury Tales (Cadbury Tales: another chocolate delicacy), Fountainhead (a chocolate fountain: are you sensing a theme?), Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (a carrot cake flag, falling apart), Catcher in the Rye (just when you think no one can come up with something new for that title: rye bread toast with pictures of a British prime minister. Thatcher in the…oh, you got it. The judges liked that one as much as we did, too.)

In non-required reading, we had Silence of the Lambs (a lamb cake with a Hannibal Lecter mask; no one commented on the propriety of slicing and eating a Lecter Lamb), and the Book Nobody Read (done up as The Book Nobody Bread), as well as a Pulitzer Pudding and a salute to the Peeple of the Book (anything involving Peeps is High Art, in my book. If I ever learn the recipe for the Peeps Pizza–Peepza–I’ve seen on Facebook, I will pass that along.)

All in all, an intellectual event. (Puns are for only the highest intellects, as long as they are served in a good humor. Hot cross puns…okay, okay.) You could tell we have moved beyond the big Shakespeare exhibit (LAST year was Much Ado About Muffins) and yet no one asked me for a copy of Ron Chernow’s Hamilton, to be served up in some sort of ham dish. (Would’ve gone well with the rye toast.) And it is as well that we have passed the era of Fifty Shades of Grain, Fifty Shades of Gravy, etc. (The Fifty Shades of Grey Poupon, with that rye toast and Hamilton…oh well.)

If you don’t have the energy to work up a contest this year, you have a year to think up a dish for 2018. I hope you understand, library paste Danish, where you ought to be this July if you seek inspiration.

That’s right! We have a Book Fair in the summer, and it will be replete with the books you had to read in high school, books which will suggest culinary art. Get a lot of friends to work with you on a horrible broth, and blame it on The Help. Spill a bag of jelly beans into a tall champagne glass, and set it next to a copy of J.D. Salinger’s Raise High the Fruit Beans, Carpenter. Grill a nearly but not quite a half dozen steaks and put them next to Kurt Vonnegut’s Porterhouse Five. Too expensive? Put out an empty bread wrapper and call it Waiting for Good Dough.

The Book Fair is fraught with inspiration for edible books. Be sure to come hungry (but don’t chew the books: at best they are only marginally edible.) We can use the recipes come the day we publish an Uncle Blogsy Cookbook. And yes, because you were waiting for it, there WILL be a section just for Divinity Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

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