Friday, September 25, 2015

Foodie Pick: Voracious

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books
by Cara Nicoletti
Little Brown and Company
2015
274 pages with index and recipes!
ISBN: 9780316242998

Supremely satisfying, divinely dulcet, and totally transcendent, Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books is sure to satiate the most voracious readers, eaters, and foodies.  Cara Nicoletti marries two passions of life: reading and eating. The two truly are connected after all.

Nicoletti shares each book and her own thoughts about the food found within and what it brought to the characters, tone, and plot of each novel. From Nancy Drew to Charlotte's Web and Where the Red Fern Grows  to Les Miserables to the Aeneid to Middlesex, Nicoletti delivers  up her dish on great books and the culinary creations they inspire.

To Kill a Mockingbird impacts many readers with its message of defending the underdog. The novel is full of food (as is the South). Nicoletti regales readers with descriptions from the book: "....scuppernongs, dewberry tarts, peach pickles, hickory nuts, cherry wine, butter beans and Lane cake..." I thought I was the only reader on the planet who was bothered by some of these foods. I was fourteen when I read To Kill a Mockingbird, and I took to the dictionary for a definition of scuppernongs--this was a  pre-Google, pre-Internet era. I discovered scuppernongs are a variety of grapes that grow in the South. I looked everywhere for someone who could tell me what the heck a Lane cake was. Finally I found an old Southern lady on the golf course--where else?--who told me Lane cakes are popular in the South and loaded with booze ("shiney"--i.e. moonshine). To Kill a Mockingbird brought the South to life for readers everywhere. Biscuits are a staple of every diet in the South. They are so prevalent In Maycomb, Calpurnia shines Scout's shoes with a biscuit. In honor of Harper Lee's classic, Nicoletti provides a recipe for Biscuits with Molasses Butter. She also gives cooks helpful tips throughout. For example, you can freeze pre-formed, unbaked biscuits.

For The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Nicoletti writes about the description of Ichabod Crane and his "insatiable and all-consuming hunger." Ichabod is  a lowly school teacher, not a wealthy landowner. He salivates over Katrina Van Tassel's family table and their hearty meals. Everywhere Ichabod goes, he sees an abundance of food, "...he beheld vast store of apples; some hanging in oppressive opulence on the trees; some gathered into baskets and barrels for the market; others heaped up in rich piles for the cider-press. Farther on he beheld great fields of Indian corn..." In honor of Ichabod, Nicoletti offers up Buckwheat Pancakes to which you can add toppings of maple syrup, peanut butter, bananas, honey, or smoked salmon which she admits with humor,  "I've tried them (the pancakes) with all of these toppings, for research purposes, of course."

Rebecca, my all time favorite Gothic read, gets full literary and culinary treatment here. The food abounds in this novel. There is literally food everywhere and it is shocking to see the depth and breadth of it. For breakfast they dine on: "...scrambled eggs and bacon, fish, boiled eggs, porridge, and ham...and entire table of condiments for the toast and scones--jam, marmalade and honey--as well as dessert dishes and mountains of fresh fruit." The narrator in Rebecca never reveals her name which makes this  novel all the more creepily Gothic and romantic.  For Rebecca, Nicoletti gives a nod to our nameless heroine and creates an ambrosia called  Blood Orange Marmalade.

Readers will devour every recipe and anecdote with gustatory glee. This novel is a treasure trove for the eye, the mind, the soul and the palate. Truly a rare find!

Highly, highly recommended for foodies, readers, cooks, chefs, and eaters everywhere. If you know a foodie, this book is a delectable gift that they will treasure! This is one book I will return to again and again for the food and for the stories!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.








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