Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hungry Reader With Insatiable Appetite

Last semester I wrote a 20+ page paper on food in literature. I began the project thinking about modern writers like Elizabeth Gilbert and Julie Powell, however as my instructor and I scoured we also found wonderful treasures such as "Chocolat" and prior examinations of the topic focused on Jane Austen and Shakespeare.

This class spent an entire semester on one topic which was chosen on the first day of class. By the end of the semester I didn't want to continue writing that particular essay, however my fascination with what food means in literature has not waned.

My thesis stated, essentially, that food and spirituality run hand in hand within much of modern literature, one taking the place of another or being interchangeable even within the same work, as in the case of "Eat, Pray, Love". In the Western world spirituality has been rapidly changing, and food has taken on a new role in our lives. Many of us label ourselves "foodies" (myself included). We do not eat to live, we live to eat. Meals are carefully planned for flavor rather than shoveled down for sustenance alone.

The book "Chocolat" by Joanne Harris appears to create the argument that chocolate can be its own religion entirely (and I am inclined to agree vehemently with Ms. Harris). She and the citizens of her small town find a new pathway to deity through her decadent sweets, and whatever magic she is throwing into the recipe.

Why am I writing all of this today? I recently began reading the memoir "Paris, My Sweet" by Amy Thomas and, although the food is wonderfully described and my travel bug continuously pulls me closer to eating at the Jules Verve Restaurant one day, I am not overly impressed with the book so far. It lacks a certain quality I look for. It doesn't grasp me, there is nothing going on below the surface. It is simply an account of all the food she eats in Paris while writing for Louis Vuitton, and frankly, I am not that interested.

Considering my fascination with how food is written into books, both fiction and non-fiction I feel this one must be particularly lacking for me to lose interest so quickly.

I will continue to read, and give the author a chance, however it's definitely not at the top of my list of suggested reads this summer. Anyone have a better suggestion for a book to satisfy my hunger?

1 comment:

  1. You must read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fanny Farmer. It's my favorite book.

    You could also read
    •The Beggar - Guy de Maupassant
    •My Antonia - Willa Cather
    •Emma - Jane Austen

    And even Like Water for Chocolate by Sandra Esquivel.