The Amuse Bouche Collection
A Little Lit-Fest
A Little Lit-Fest
Many moons back, I started slotting an Amuse Bouche into the blog at weekends. My Amuse Bouche is a short food related (sometimes rather weakly related!) paragraph or passage taken from a book that I am currently reading. It has proven quite popular, surprisingly so.
What follows is the collection of many of the #amusebouche that have appeared here over the past few years. They have been taken from thrillers, from autobiographies, from cook books, from sports books, from historical novels. They have been written by all sorts of authors, including Emma Donahue, Robert Hughes, Dan Barber, Theodora Fitzgibbon, Olivia O'Leary, Ha Jin and Paul Theroux to mention a few.
...that stupendous civic institution which everyone calls the Boqueria.
It is the hub and heart of both Barcelona’s gastronomy and its everyday eating. Its site was originally occupied by the sixteenth-century convent of Sant Josep and the fourteenth-century one of Santa Maria. Hang me for a gluttonous atheist if you will, but compared to the increase of human happiness afforded by this great market, the loss of a couple of convents is nothing.
from Barcelona, the Great Enchantress by Robert Hughes
In the area where meat was sold, the floor was slimy with blood that had dripped from the cutting blocks. They were greeted like family by their usual butcher, and Katerina was quickly served with one of the sheep’s heads that had stared at them from a bucket.
‘Why are you buying that, Yiayia?’
‘For stock,’ she replied.
‘And a kilo of tripe, please.’
She would be making patsas later. For a few euros, she could feed all of them for days. Nothing was wasted here.
from The Thread by Victoria Hislop
Is there a recipe book for writers? Josephine wondered. Mix one cup of love with a dash of adventure, a few ounces of historical references, and two pounds of sweat. Let simmer on low heat, stir, sauté so it doesn't stick, let sit for six months, a year,.
Stendhal, supposedly wrote The Charterhouse of Parma in three weeks. Georges Simenon could bang out a book in ten days. But how long had they carried those books around inside as they got up in the morning, sipped their coffee, read the mail, watched the morning light on the breakfast table?
from The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol
His favourites were oysters, which he slurped down several dozen at a time, plovers’ eggs, caviar, sole poached in Chablis, chicken in aspic, and any game birds that were available - pheasant, grouse, partridge, snipe, woodcock, quail; all of them prepared in thick creamy sauces. Quails he preferred stuffed with foie gras. His favourite style of lunch and dinner was a meal during which he could gobble as much as possible while being amused by gossiping friends or the coy chatter of a pretty woman.
from Dirty Bertie by Stephen Clare
“I told you to keep Finlandia in this place,” Tim mutters, looking through the bottles, most of them magnums, at the bar. “She never has Finlandia,” he says to no one, to all of us.
“Oh god, Timothy. Can’t handle Absolut?” Evelyn asks…
“Bateman. Drink?” Price sighs.
“J&B rocks,” I tell him…
“Oh god. It’s a mess,” Evelyn gasps….
“The sushi looks marvellous,” I tell her soothingly.
from American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
In this solitude he sipped his wine, liking the solidity of the house, the smell of books and carpets, the whiff of wood smoke from the fire, the aromas from the kitchen, always lamb or fish stews and chowders, and bags of fresh salads sent up every morning from a restaurant in Vineyard Haven…
The pale yellow Chablis in his glass was so rich that when he tipped his glass to sip, and righted it, he saw that it was viscous, showing its legs on the side of the glass. He tasted the sunshine on his tongue, in his throat, and its warmth relaxed him.
from Blinding Light by Paul Theroux (2005)
At the next roadside stand, Kotler asked the driver to pull over.
Several folding tables were arrayed on the gravel…. On the tables dozens of clear glass jars glowed with different shades of honey, from palest yellow to deepest amber. On the ground, in wicker baskets, sprawled mounds of apricots and melons. And from metal racks flanking the tables, long strips of purple Yalta onions hung like curtains. Shaded under a large blue beach umbrella, a Russian woman and Tartar boy in his teens sat on folding chairs.
from The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis
Alice and Maggie sat at a window table in Beppe’s Bistro. ….
Maggie drained the glass of Australian Shiraz that she had ordered for her stomach’s sake, and promptly ordered another from Beppe himself, who kept saying how great it was that the nuns from Doon Abbey had finally crossed his threshold. Alice, on a San Pellegrino, had ordered two beer-battered cods and chips. She badly wanted a smoke, but knew that to be seen smoking on the pavement outside Beppe’s might be a step too far.
from Sister Caravaggio by Maeve Binchy, Peter Cunningham, Neil Donnelly, Cormac Millar, Éilis Ní Duibhne, Mary O’Donnell and Peter Sheridan
‘Ag, sit, Benedict. I’m going to have some tea. Would you like a glass of milk?’
‘Yes, please.’ He loved the fresh, creamy milk from the farm. In the house up the hill, they had semi-skimmed milk from the supermarket on account of Baba watching his cholesterol and Mama watching her hips, and it just wasn’t as nice.
from When Hoopoes go to Heaven by Gaile Parkin
Before the commander surrendered, an ardent National Socialist and the director of the local Panzerfaust (bazooka) factory, a Herr Bundnis, held an unorthodox dinner party. He invited his closest colleagues to a lavish meal. After the last round of drinks had been served, the room exploded, killing everyone instantly. He had arranged for the room to be rigged with explosives.
from Disobeying Hitler by Randall Hansen.
Today’s food culture has given chefs a platform of influence, including the power, if not the luxury to innovate. As arbiters of taste, we can help inspire a Third Plate, a new way of eating that puts it all together.
That’s a tall order for any chef, not to mention eaters, but it’s an intuitive one as well. Because, as the stories in this book suggest, it always takes the shape of delicious food. Truly great flavor - the kind that produces plain old jaw-dropping wonder - is a powerful lens into the natural world because taste breaks through the delicate things we can't see or perceive. Taste is a soothsayer, a truth teller. And it can be a guide to reimagining our food system, and our diets, from the ground up.
from The Third Plate by Dan Barber
The stories Madame Manec’s visitors bring into the kitchen are terrifying and difficult to believe. Parisian cousins nobody has heard from in decades now write letters begging for capons, hams, hens. The dentist is selling wine through the mail. The perfumer is slaughtering lambs and carrying them in suitcases on the train to Paris, where he sells the meat for an enormous profit.
In Saint-Malo, people are fined for locking their doors, for keeping doves, for hoarding meat. Truffles disappear. Sparkling wine disappears. No eye contact. No chatter in doorways. No sunbathing, no singing, no lovers strolling….
from All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (2014)
In this way...wheat farmers..are doing their part to poison the environment. Many farmers deliver an extra shot of synthetic nitrogen just before harvest to pump up the protein percentage. “They’re overfertilizing sixty million acres,” Steve said. “And for what? So the industry can bake more loaves per hour, and so they can charge you more to ‘enrich’ and ‘fortify’ it - which just means they can add tons of shit into the bread and it won't collapse.”
from The Third Plate by Dan Barber.
Who needs Abramovich, Lennox sells a lot of chips…
Who needs Abramovich, Lennox sells a lot of chips...
(to the tune of ‘La Donna è Mobile’ from Verdi’s Rigoletto)
from Death of a Football Club by Neal Horgan.
After she and Zeke got back from the market, Lula mixed them each a mojito, a splash of alcohol in Zeke’s, a healthy splash in her own, heavy on the sugar and the mint. Zeke sat on a kitchen stool and watched Lula make dinner. Most nights they ate pizza with frozen crust, tomato sauce from a jar, and mozzarella that, refrigerated, would outlive them both. Sometimes Lula unpeeled tiny ice-dusted hamburgers, which, steamed in the microwave, were surprisingly delicious, surprisingly like a street snack you could buy in Tirana. Bad food made Zeke feel rebellious, which every teenager needed.
from My New American Life by Francine Prose 2011
The difference between Hindu cuisine and Muslim cuisine is very easy to explain. In Kashmir the Hindus avoid sexy onions and garlic; they love the taste of heeng (asafetida) and the non-incestuous fennel and ginger. Muslims find heeng (and it sulfurous odor) unbearable. They adore garlic, green praans, garam masala, and on certain occasions, mawal flowers. So there is a ‘Hindu’ Rogan Josh and a ‘Muslim’ Rogan josh. Over the years I have developed my own recipe, a Rogan Josh inspired by these two great traditions. I have perfected the dish…. Rogan Josh is red because of Kashmiri chilies, which are ten times more red than the ordinary Indian mirchis.
from Chef by Jaspreet Singh.
As a sweetmeat, good honey has no equal in flavour and aroma. Nowadays, however, it has to compete with all manner of manufactured products which are readily obtainable everywhere, attractively packed and displayed, and often cheaper in price. To meet this competition successfully, the modern beekeeper must be ready to take the trouble to prepare his speciality for the market in such a way that it will keep the regular customer well satisfied and also attract a new custom from those who perhaps have hitherto regarded honey merely as something in a pot to be taken occasionally for the relief of coughs and colds.
from Honey. From Hive to Market. Published by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 1953
They called James, the brother of Jesus, “James the Just”........ He himself owned nothing, not even the clothes he wore….. He drank no wine and ate no meat. He took no baths. No razor ever touched his face, nor did he smear himself with scented oils.
from Zealot (The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth) by Reza Aslan (p. 2013)
“Jefferson’s an American saint, because he wrote the words all men are created equal - words he clearly didn’t believe, because he allowed his own children to live in slavery. He was a rich wine snob who was sick of paying taxes to the Brits. So yeah, he wrote some lovely words and aroused the rabble and they went out and died for those words, while he sat back, and drank his wine, and f****d his slave girl.”
from The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus
This morning our gun dropped about 270 pounds of ICM (Improved Conventional Munition) on a smuggler’s checkpoint ten kliks south of us. We took out a group of insurgents and then went to the Fallujah chow hall for lunch. I got fish and lima beans. I try to eat healthy.
At the table all nine of are smiling and laughing……. Voorstadt’s got a big plate of ravioli and Pop-Tarts…. and says, “I can’t believe we finally had an arty mission.”
Sanchez says, “It’s about time we killed someone”, and Sergeant Deetz laughs. Even I chuckle, a little.
from Redeployment by Phil Klay.
There were two grocery stores here. From what Decker had seen, the two most popular food items purchased there were Hamburger Helper by the kilo and sugary orange pop by the barrel. And the fast-food places also did brisk business, fattening both the young and old to impossible degrees and foretelling diabetes, cancer, stroke, and heart disease stats blowing right through the roof.
And didn’t he know that first hand?
from Memory Man by David Baldacci (2015)
Puddings were an art form in themselves, as they are today in Baghdad, where bakers’ shelves buckle under piles of pastries drenched in honey. There was muhallabiya (rice pudding); zalabiya (fried batter dipped in boiled honey); katayif (delicate crepes filled with ground nuts and sugar, scented with rosewater, musk and camphor); mugharak, ancestor of the modern baklawa; khushkanaj (filled pastries….); Coloured sugar and nuts were festooned around the puddings…
from Baghdad, City of Peace, City of Blood by Justin Marozzi
Emily orders the best of tea, butter and flour from the general store in Mitchelstown and trades the eggs to get us prime cuts of beef from the abattoir beyond the mill. Our fruit trees and bushes overflow in late summer, thanks to the warm, inland climate, and this will keep her busy with jam-making all through the autumn, more goods in her intricate system of bartering for the best produce from the neighbouring farm. I have grown pleasantly stout under Emily's new regime of spending and trading and sometimes see myself unexpectedly in shop windows: a prosperous, well-dressed woman nearly sixty, so far removed from the restless girl I still believe myself to be.
from The Diary of Mary Travers by Eibhear Walshe (2014)
They were two of the most cheerfully vulgar creatures I have ever had the luck to meet, but they knew a great deal about food and wine. They analysed and admired each plateful and shrieked with delight over each fancy culinary trick: sprinklings of golden caviar, oysters suspended in sea water en gelée, baskets woven out of rare herbs containing mouthfuls of cheese coated in slivers of white truffle. …. and they sniffed and slurped their wine like cocker spaniels.
from Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy (2015)
Then Pla intervened. ‘Don’t even think about bringing us an Alvariňo… We’ll have a Blanc D’Anjou,’ he said to the waiter.
Shortly afterwards, the waiter brought a serving dish laden with seafood: cockles, clams, oysters, shrimp, crayfish, even two lobsters were piled up on a mountain of ice. Such merchandise was usually only obtained on the black market. At the summit of the seafood mountain an enormous spider crab lifted its pincers towards Pablo and glared at him with its dead malevolent eyes. Pla helped himself to the largest lobster and opened it with a surgeon's precision.
from The Whispering City by Sara Moliner (2013)
There would be pleasant stops for a drink or food: the back bar of Jammet’s; the Dolphin with its delicious grills; the Red Bank restaurant, which for years as a child I had thought was a bank, when my father used leave me in the car and nip in; Neary’s pub with the bowls of gas along the counter; Davy Byrne’s, the pub James Joyce writes about in Ulysses; and others. We met friends of Arland’s including Brendan Behan, who seemed very fond of him. They joked and talked together, often in Irish.
from A Taste of Love by Theodora Fitzgibbon (2015)
Our HQ was an old, disused cow house with a leaking roof; it was cold and damp, with broken doors and windows….
We were guarded twenty-four hours a day by local Volunteers, while the Cumann na mBan women prepared our meals, and we were never short of food. The local people of Baile Mhúirne and Clondrohid brought us daily supplies of bread, milk, butter, eggs, bacon and turf. The present generation will, I am sure, find it hard to understand the generosity….. They had a humane, kind-hearted streak in their hearts for us, and I can tell you seóinins [selfish people] were few and far between during that period early in the twentieth century.
from Memoirs of an old Warrior, compiled and edited by Dónal Ó Héalaithe
In France…, there is a correct way to approach the cheese. Round ones, like chèvre or Saint-Felicien, are cut from the center like tiny pieces of pie. A triangular wedge of Brie or bleu must be cut from the side, into ever thinning slivers, and a large rectangular slab of Comté or Cantal should be approached from the inside edge, working towards the hardened croûte until it is roughly the length of your knife blade, in which case it should be sliced from the side. The idea is never to leave any diner with just the mouldy crust. And, of course, to avoid, if at all possible, taking the last piece.
from Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard (2010)
In the last few days of 2010, Zurich was in an excited state of expectancy. Europe’s wealthiest city was preparing to surpass itself by proffering the most comfortably expensive luxuries… The champagne crates were piled high, the fridges were bursting with truffles and foie gras, and the great chefs were dreaming up irresistible epicurean feasts… Every decent hotel room was already taken, every taxi was making itself available, and the red light district...was expecting business to be brisk. The ‘FIFA family’ was coming to town..
from The Ugly Game (The Qatari plot to buy the World Cup) by Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert.
Dinner, with the queen, could be an ordeal. The simple meal - soup, fish, cold beef and the cream puddings of which Victoria was particularly fond - began at 9 and usually lasted precisely thirty minutes. The queen was served first and gobbled her food. Slow eaters, such as Gladstone, who was said to chew every mouthful thirty-three times, found their plates snatched away by the servants when they had barely begun.
from Victoria by Jane Ridley
We travelled to Oosterbeek, a small village an hour south-east of Amsterdam, to the home of Hans Hermans, one of the filmmakers. Before showing the film, he served a traditional Dutch lunch of Edam cheese and salted herring in his small kitchen, then invited us into the living room. We sat on floor cushions as his co-producer Martin Maat, started the movie.
The film, entitled Justice for Sergei, was not easy to watch…... I let my guard down and the tears flowed as they've never flowed before or since.
Red Notice (How I became Putin’s No.1 Enemy) by Bill Browder (2015)
The California red-legged frog was eaten to brink of extinction in the late nineteenth century, and it remains a threatened species, mostly due to ongoing habitat loss. The frog-leg trade (which includes wild-catching and farming) wreaks great damage on ecosystems today, particularly in developing countries.
from Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (note in the afterword).
Her staunch friend had thought of everything. Nothing like a good meal to face up to death. In their infinite wisdom, both French and Italian traditions prescribe a feast after a funeral. Even more reason for one after an assassination. So he takes her for dinner to the best local eatery. Sébillon, famed for its leg of lamb.
from Escape by Dominique Manotti (2013)
The waiter slapped down my pavé au poivre….. The knife slid through the meat; the thinnest layer of crusty brown opening to reveal a pulpy red heart. I watched as the pink juices puddled into the buttery pepper sauce.
Gwendal looked up. I must have uttered an audible gasp of pleasure. “I don't know why you can't get a steak like this in England,” I said, careful, even in my haste to lift the first bite to my mouth, not to drip on my sweater. My fork and knife paused in midair as I let the salt, the fat, the blood settle on my tongue.”
from Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard (2010)
When the Revlon….sponsored a Folk Sound program on CBS in 1960…..Variety’s television critic summed it up as “the kind of folk music I associate with far-out Bohemian types. I mean the kind who wear leather thong sandals and entertain you after dinner (a casserole of garlic bulbs and goats hearts, stewed in a bad wine) with their scratchy old recordings of blues songs by Leadbelly and Blind Willie Johnson.”
from Dylan Goes Electric by Elijah Wald (2015)
The New World basil will be sweet and tart and plentiful… it will brighten my sauces and sing in my salads and if we’re ever sad I’ll pass a spring under our noses, we’ll be cured. Listen, Leda, there are bound to be demons…. if they ever arrive at your house, use basil. Eat it. Smell it. Cover bad things with it. Dip a sprig in water and sprinkle it in every corner, and sing a song, any song, the happier the better, so the evil eye will go away.
from The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis (2015)
For breakfast, all the representatives had jook, a Korean dish, which was somewhat like porridge but with meat and diced turnip in the rice. The word jook, I thought, must be derived from the Chinese word zhou, which means porridge. Every one of us was served a full bowl of it, and a plate of kimchee sat in the center of each table… The Koreans couldn’t live without kimchee….. Chaolin and I didn't care for kimchee; the chili was too hot for us… The jook, however was tender and tasty.
from War Trash by Ha Jin 2004
Boiling alive was less commonly used as a punishment, but it was nonetheless legalized in 1532 by Henry VIII to punish one criminal in particular. Richard Roose was a cook found guilty of poisoning the porridge of his boss, the Bishop of Rochester. He was judged to have committed treason and was boiled alive, roaring ‘mighty loud’, according to one chronicle. …. That English law was repealed in 1547.
from Heat by Ranulph Fiennes (2015)
Jacob’s biscuit and cake stand was described as follows: ‘amongst the 200 or more varieties, may be seen the well-known Cream Crackers, also Walnut Cream, At Home, Five O’Clock Tea, Arrowroot, Oxford Lunch, their new royalist ranges, the King’s Own and Coronation, ‘a rich shortbread with a glacé cherry in centre’ and so on. The backdrop to the stand was a wall of colourful biscuit boxes 7 ft (2m) high….
from The Cork International Exhibition 1902-1903 by Daniel Breen & Tom Spalding (2014)
Weiss asked some children in pidgin Italian where they could have lunch. The kids led them to a shuttered trattoria, whose owners opened immediately for the GIs and their youthful followers. The conquering heroes sat down to lashings of the first real food that had tasted since they arrived in Italy. ....they gorged on pasta, meat, fruit and cheese. They also bought lunch for the children, who were hungrier than the soldiers. The Americans finished five courses at one restaurant and proceeded to repeat the experience in another. “Liter after liter of ordinary vino from the nearby slopes, although red and raw, tricked down our throats,” Weiss recalled.
From Deserter by Charles Glass.
Another first-class passenger, George A. Kessler – a legendary wine merchant from New York- carried with him $2 million in stocks. In 1902, according to author Kolleen M. Guy in When Champagne Became French, Kessler, “Moet and Chandon’s agent in the United States, created an enormous stir in both the American and European press when he managed to substitute a bottle of his firm’s champagne for a bottle of German sparkling wine at the highly publicized launching of the German emperor’s new yacht, the Meteor, in New York.” Thus began the tradition of christening ships with champagne. Four years later, “with touching concern for human suffering,” he donated an entire boxcar of champagne to those affected by the San Francisco earthquake.
From the Day the World was Shocked by John Prostasio. (The Lusitania disaster and its influence on the course of World War 1.)
Wenger used all the tools. Previously the pre-match meal at Arsenal had consisted of baked beans with Coca-Cola. “Some players went on to the pitch burping,” Dennis Bergkamp reminisced. Not under Wenger.
From The Football Men by Simon Kuper.
.... the brewery lads were dreamy-eyed from hopsfumes, while the slaughterhouse boys had been all....night up to their oxters in corpses of beasts, filling the wagons....and the wagons rolled out now across the greasy cobbles, and it was a gorey cargo they hauled:
See the peeled heads of sheep, and the veined fleshy haunches of pigs, and the glistening trays of livers and spleens, skirts and kidneys, lungs and tongues – carnivorous to a fault, we’d ate the whole lot for you out in Bohane.
From City of Bohane by Kevin Barry
The most basic pizza of all is pizza Bianca, which may be lubricated with olive oil and flavoured with garlic. Slightly more sophisticated and no less ancient, is pizza marinara, so called because sailors – marinai – could take the ingredients with them to sea. The ingredients for the topping were just tomato puree, garlic, olive oil and oregano. Had pizzaioli stuck to such inspired simplicity, all might have been fine, but they didn’t. In 1889 Queen Margherita of Savoy paid a visit to the city**, and the pizza Margherita, which combines tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves in imitation of the Italian flag, was invented in her honour and that has become the archetypal pizza, and the standard by which pizzas may be judged – and that is the problem.
From Eating Up Italy by Matthew Fort
We went hunting for the trumpets of the dead….. To find the trumpets of the dead, you need sharp eyes, stout boots and knowledgeable neighbours.
The trumpets of the dead lurk in sodden banks of rotting leaves at the edge of the forest. They resemble truncated body parts of alien creatures……
But les trompettes des morts are mushrooms; queer-looking mushrooms but, despite their unappetising appearance and gothic-horror name, safe to eat. Safe is not the right word. They are wonderful to eat.
From Our Man in Paris by John Lichfield
We spread a red and white checked cloth over the rock and placed on it different salads and vegetable dishes that we had brought with us. We ended with a colourful display, all entirely vegetarian. There was beetroot salad, baba ganoush [an aubergine dip], goat’s cheese, a bowl of carrots, tomatoes and broccoli, different kinds of patties and fruits. We settled down to eat, the men from the group opposite left the women and children to search for dry wood for their barbecue of kufta and lamb chops.
From Occupation Diaries by Raja Shehadeh.
- “MacArthur Park.” That was me favourite.
- A classic until Richard fuckin’ Harris took it and wrecked it.
- It’s all it takes, isn’t i? Some cunt from ******** takes a certified disco classic and turns it into some sort of bogger lament.
- Someone left the cake out in the rain.
- They wouldn’t know what cake was in ********. They’d be puttin’ it in their hair.
- An’anyway, they’d’ve robbed the fuckin’ cake long before it started rainin’.
From Two Pints by Roddy Doyle
Our table companions were other editors and writers for the Telegram (italics), men I saw all day and felt no desire to speak to. Like good newsmen everywhere, they knew what was important and homed in on their dinners. On the menu there would have been fresh oysters, inevitably, all of New York was crazy about oysters, they were served in hotels, in "oyster bars", in saloons, they were sold from pushcarts in the street......wonderful fresh oysters in abundance, cold, whole, alive, and dipped in a sharp red sauce. If we were a nation, they were our national dish.........And rack of lamb that you rely on not to be served, as you understand the term, but, more nearly thrown. The odor of the unwashed sommelier tinctured the bouquet of the wine he poured. But no matter. The newsmen were an island of quiet absorption in the roar.
From The Waterworks by El Doctorow.
When night fell, all gathered together around the table, where smoked the Christmas dinner.... The roast goose, stuffed with potatoes and onions, the pig’s head, garlanded with curly cabbage, a piece of salt beef, and an abundance of potatoes was, and is, the never-changing menu in these humble, Christian households. In places where there is a little more pretension, a rice pudding, plentifully sprinkled with currants, or a plum pudding, is in much request. And then the decks are cleared for action; and the great Christmas cake, black with raisins, is surrounded and steamed by smoking tumblers of punch....
From Glenanaar by Canon PA Sheehan.
Ma says the plates aren’t a problem, the blue doesn’t go on the food, she gets me to rub it with my finger to see. Also the forks and knives, the metal feels weird with no white handles but it doesn’t actually hurt. There’s a syrup that’s to put on the pancakes but I don't want mine wet. I have a bit of all the foods and everything are good except the sauce on the scrambled eggs. The chocolate one, the Easter, it’s meltedy inside. It’s double more chocolatier than the chocolates we sometimes get for Sundaytreat, it’s the best thing I ever ate.
“Oh! We forgot to say thanks to Baby Jesus,” I tell Ma.
“We’ll say it now, he doesn’t mind if we’re late.”
Then I do a huge burp.
Then we go back to sleep.
From: Room by Emma Donoghue.
This is what I do, have done. I strip off haunches arms breast buttocks calves. Slice it thin soak it in brine and dry to jerky for Jasper (the dog) for the days between. You remember the story of the rugby team in the Andes. The corpses were corpses already dead. They did it to survive. I am no different. I do it for him. I eat venison, bottom fish, rabbit, shiners. I keep his jerky in airtight buckets. He likes it the best of all his food I’m sure because of the salt. Tomorrow I will do it again but not the boy, I’ll bury him not with any tenderness or regret just in one piece with his hawk feather.
From The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.
Accompanying them,.... Johnnie Mae didn’t seem to mind the degradation.... With a shudder, Otis tells of the time she (Johnnie Mae) couldn’t wait in line to use the ladies room.... She grabbed an empty can from the kitchen shelf, went backstage, and relieved herself in the can, then simply put it back on the shelf. From the stage a little later, he (Otis) saw the cook, thinking it was a can of cooking oil, take it and pour what was in it into a skillet of frying chicken. “We were paid with a free meal that night,” he recalls, “but for some reason we weren’t hungry.”
From Ain’t Too Proud to Beg (The Temptations) by Mark Robowsky.
He stowed a bottle of the local rotgut called Five Island Gin – nicknamed Five Ulcer Gin – in radioman Harry Brooks’s gas mask holster. When an MP tapped Brooks’s hip to check for the mask, the bottle broke and left Brooks with a soggy leg. It was probably for the best. Louie noticed that when he drank the stuff, his chest hair spontaneously fell out. He later discovered that Five Island Gin was often used as a paint thinner. After that, he stuck to beer.
- From Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.
Pomus could not get over how some of Spector’s nuttiest habits were so commonplace to the young man. “One thing he did was, he carried this briefcase around with him all the time. And in the briefcase was a loaf of bread, a hairbrush, and a pencil and paper. That was it. He’d break off a piece of bread and sit there eating and he was the happiest guy in the world. We used put him on, ‘cause he was so funny. But he was very smart and politically oriented too. You couldn’t figure him out, whether he was putting you on.”
From: He’s a Rebel (Phil Spector) by Mark Ribowsky.
In 16th century England, the law dictated much of everyday life.
“Food was ...regulated... depending on status. A cardinal was permitted nine dishes at a meal while those earning less than £40 a year (which is to say most people) were allowed only three courses, plus soup. Happily, since Henry VIII’s break with Rome, eating meat on Friday was no longer a hanging offence, though anyone caught eating meat during Lent could still be sent to prison for three months.”
From Shakespeare by Bill Bryson.
Next he went for the buttered crab. With a long thin spoon, Shah scooped the baked flesh from the salted and peppered exoskeleton of the crab; when all the easy meat had been carved from the chest and eaten, he tore the limbs apart, and chewed on them, one a time, biting into the shell and chewing 'til it cracked open, before sucking at the warm white flesh. The waiters were prepared to carve out the flesh and bring it on a small plate, but Dharmen Shah did not want it that way. He wanted to feel he was eating a thing that had been breathing just an hour ago: wanted to feel, once again, the extraordinary good fortune of being one of those still alive. – Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga.
She placed the heavy looking plate on the table.
“You can use the soy sauce on the table there.”
The whole plate was heaped high with colourful seaweed, on top of which was an entire squid. Its body was translucent, clear through to the seaweed below. Its silvery metallic-looking eyes were unfocussed and stared into space. Its legs alone were still writhing, as if they could escape the plate.
“The legs and whatever else you leave we’ll make into tempura or deep-fry for you,” the waitress explained.
From Villain by Shuichi Yoshida.
I crave red apples and corn soup, and have flashbacks of my primary-school friend Rongrong selling hot rabbit heads outside the Red Flag Cinema in Qingdao. I see the heads steaming in her saucepan. You could buy four heads for a mao. – From Red Dust by Ma Jian.
"It is not uncommon for a bottle of Lafite ’96 to fetch a couple of thousand dollars more at auction in China that it would in Europe. Many (?) Chinese enjoy the showmanship of presenting important guests with this kind of celebrity wine, and my favourite aspect of it all is that many prefer to take it with a splash of coke.” From Around the World in 80 Trades by Conor Woodman.
“To accompany my mother to a restaurant is a mortifying experience. When we go in, she looks over the tables, checking what other people are eating, sometimes so closely that she alarms the diners. She reads the menu with excessive attention and torments the waiter with malicious questions that force him to go to the kitchen and return with written answers. Then she urges us all to order something different, and when the food arrives she takes photos… The rest is easy; she takes a bite from each plate and with that taste knows how to interpret it later at home…” From Aphrodite by Isabel Allende.
“Wang Long’s mother works in a foreigners’ hotel..... She told me that foreigners are really wasteful. They throw away the tea bags after just one cup. And the tea isn’t good enough for them – they have to add milk before they can drink it.”
From Beijing Coma by Ma Jian.
“Years ago, I spent a week reporting from the European parliament in Strasbourg. One evening, a group of MEPs asked if I would join them for dinner….. The meal exquisite – one superlative dish followed another – though I could scarcely enjoy it, since I knew that my paper…would be deeply unhappy about refunding the monstrous bill I could expect. Finally it arrived and I started to search for a credit card. This was greeted by looks of incredulous astonishment, as if I had stumbled into a Bateman cartoon – ‘the man who thought he had to buy his own dinner in Strasbourg’. ‘My dear fellow,’ said one of the MEPs, ‘you are a guest of the European Socialist group!’”. From Life’s Too Short to Drink Bad Wine by Simon Hoggart.
In Michael Eaude’s Catalonia he refers to a mediaeval recipe for Roast Cat which involved roasting the animal in oil, garlic and herbs. The brains, by the way, were removed before cooking.
“......a woman held up a duck whose throat she had cut and stroked her gently while a little girl held up a cup to catch the blood for making gravy. The duck seemed very contented and, when they put her down, she waddled twice and found that she was dead. We ate her later, stuffed and roasted.”
Hemingway, describing a visit to Miro’s summer home near Barcelona.
“...Maria...sat me down at a little round table which she began to fill with the fruit of Galicia’s arable cornucopia. Dark, cured chorizo,....., a decayed pastille of greying dairy matter that offended every sense but taste, a winning marriage of rich cream cheese and honey, and all this washed down with crisp local beer that demanded the back of the hand to be drawn across a grateful mouth.” From Spanish Steps, One Man and his Ass on the Pilgrim Way to Santiago, by Tim Moore.
She presented the magnificent orange carp on a large celadon plate....She shaped the spinach into curly tidal waves all around the lip of the giant plate. She decorated the fish and capped the spinach waves with bits of candied ginger; they shimmered like diamonds....I squealed with joy as I collected the sweet gems and saved them..for later, when I would relish them as a late snack with fruit and tea. From Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen by Marilyn Chin.
Pick a pen and a brush and write, sing, paint and shout. You must do, exist and interfere. You must live. – used on the bottle labels by Quinta do Judea (Douro, Portugal)
Nor were the passengers stinted on drink. There were 2,700 gallons of wine and 500 gallons of spirit for the captain’s table, as well as 7.000 gallons of beer and 1,000 of rum for the sailors’ grog. Nevertheless, the captain was under instructions to set his passengers ‘an example of sobriety and decorum, as he values the pleasure of the Court’.
From the Caliban Shore by Stephen Taylor.
“In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that Autumn (1951), police seized a youth on suspicion of possessing narcotics when he was found with some peculiar brown powder, but he was released when it was shown that it was a new powder called instant coffee.”
- From Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson.
“...a man stood in a wooden booth surrounded by tomatoes, cucumbers, and boiled potatoes in buckets of water. High stacks of white bread and a bowl of butter on his table, he sliced the vegetables fine. A series of cardboard signs in English hung...from the ceiling.....
DO NOT ASK FOR CREDIT
DO NOT DISCUSS OUR COMPETITOR'S RATE
DO NOT ASK FOR FREE PLASTIC BAG
DO NOT ASK FOR EXTRA TOMATO SAUCE
DO NOT STAY FOR LONG TIME AFTER EATING
--- from Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga
“The Cathars were a twelfth century French sect who....reviled procreation with an unusually righteous passion. Forget about having sex; they couldn't even bring themselves to eat anything created by it, directly or indirectly. No meat, no eggs, no milk. Oddly enough, they didn't last long.” From Spanish Steps, One Man and his Ass on the Pilgrim Way to Santiago, by Tim Moore.
“In the 18th century, the quality of the Rochegude wines led Thomas Jefferson to introduce them to President Washington.....At that point, he was appointed Secretary of State.” From About Our Wines (Cotes du Rhone booklet).
"Gregory the Great always used to recommend making the sign of the cross over a lettuce in case you swallowed a demon that happened to be perched on it leaves.”
From The Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple.
It is a funny thing about English diners. They’ll let you dazzle them with piddly duxelles of this and fussy little noisettes of that, but don’t fuck with their puddings....All the desserts were for gooey dishes with good English names. I had sticky toffee pudding and it was splendid. From Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
“But the fact is that a £10 Malbec from Argentina will probably be smoother, fuller and less sharp than a £6.00 bottle. An £11.00 Chardonnay from the Margaret River in Australia will be much more exciting than a £5.50 wine from one of the big companies that make and export millions of litres. In my view, a £12.00 wine from southern France is likely to be far better value than any Bordeaux at the same price.” From Life’s Too Short to Drink Bad Wine by Simon Hoggart.
At least to start with, the table fairly groaned with food – ‘a rude kind of plenty’, one source called it – even if the fare was hardly up to the standard Bengal society was used to. ‘Ill-concocted soups, queer-looking ragouts and jelly the colour of salt water,’ sniffed one lady. The hold contained 40 tons of salted meat, including beef, pork, bacon and tongue, 15 tons of potatoes, 6 tons of flour, 2 tons of cheese, 4 tons of groceries, five barrels of herring, and six chests of oranges and lemons.
From the Caliban Shore by Stephen Taylor.
“I first met Robert Mondavi in early 1979, when he was already 63 years old. He was in the tasting room of his beautiful winery at Oakville, California, and he was sampling. Every morning he sampled 150 wines and every afternoon he sampled another 150. Even though he spat the whole lot out after swilling it round his mouth….there must have been enough alcohol absorbed by his body over the two sessions to send a lesser man reeling.” From Life’s Too Short to Drink Bad Wine by Simon Hoggart
The entrance to the restaurant is lined with cages of snakes, cats and tortoises. A man takes a skinned dog off his bicycle rack and delivers it to the kitchen. The fish and prawns jumping in enamel basins splash water onto the stone floor and remind one the sea is not far away.
There really is nothing Guangzhou people do not eat. Tonight I have tasted snake, cat, turtle and raw fish.
From Red Dust by Ma Jian
Down from the mountains and over the Cross-river Bridge, villagers came with newly hatched chicks and ducklings in bamboo baskets, the first batch of edible ferns picked by the small hands of children with smaller children on their backs, deer that had not escaped the hunters’ buckshot and now came in disjointed forms: antlers, hides, jerky, bucks’ members labelled as deer whips and said to improve a man’s performance in his bedroom business.
- From The Vagrants by Yiyun Li
In the 1840s, a Florida physician named John Gorrie, trying to cool the rooms where patients were suffering from yellow fever, figured out how to make ice using mechanical refrigeration, paving the way for household refrigerators that appeared in American homes en masse in the 1920s and 1930s
From: A thousand sisters by Lisa J. Shannon.
The author is at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.
Inside, I walk past walls filled with snapshots of victims....a few details of his or her life are listed:
Francine Murengezi Ingabire
Favourite sport: Swimming
Favourite food: Eggs and chips
Favourite drink: Milk and Fanta Tropical
Best Friend: Her elder sister Claudette
Cause of death: Hacked by machete.
We started with alligator pears, Papa’s name for avocados. He used to pick them fresh from the hill-sides of Finca Vigia, or get them in a little bodega at the foot of the hill, on his way to town in the car to the harbor. They were fat and juicy and we’d scoop out the flesh with a spoon or a fork. They’d be seasoned with vinaigrette dressing. You could practically eat a half avocado in three scoops, you’d get so hungry out there in the salt air.....
We’d eat the avocados and wash them down with cold beer. That was the first course, the salad, a side dish, if you will. For a second course, we’d have fresh fish.
- From Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrikson.
Charles tells me that when they were younger, they used to drain some of the blood from the cows to mix with mursik, a fermented milk drink. They would make a tiny hole in the cow’s neck to get the blood out and then seal it back up afterwards, leaving the cow to run off unharmed.
“It made us strong,” he says. The mixture of blood and mursik is often cited by runners as the Kelenjin secret, even though it is rarely drunk nowadays. Mixed with charcoal, it is an unpalatable but potent tonic.
From Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn.
“We had the tastiest baked goods at Barbara’s Bake Shoppe, the meatiest, most face-smearing ribs and crispiest fried chicken at a restaurant called the Country Gentleman, the best junk food at a drive-in called George the Chilli King. (And the vast farts afterwards. A George’s Chilli Burger was gone in minutes, but the farts, it was said, went on for ever.).
- From Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson.
Even here in Southern Italy, in unheated houses in winter, bread won’t rise because of the cold. Historically the answer was to take the rising mass to bed with you, using the human body and bed clothing to maintain the adequate temperature. I did this for a few weeks over this winter, the pleasant and yeasty gestation under the sheets and thick woolen blankets, likely the closest I’ll ever come to feeling the profound satisfaction observed on the faces of mother hens. http://awaitingtable.com/2012/04/pane-nella-pignata-bread-baked-in-earthenware/ from the blog by by SILVESTRO
’We will go home and eat cakies, little lotus-filled cakies,’ Granny sang. ‘We will eat turnip squares, salty white turnip squares,' she sang. ‘We will eat grass jelly, tangy green grass jelly. We will eat dumplings, soft, steamy dumplings.’ From Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen by Marilyn Chin.
.....a Corkman’s testimony to the Irish Folklore Commission declared that even after the Great Hunger ended, “Old people said it was God’s will to have the famine come. They abused fine food when they had it aplenty.”
And if it were not God’s will, then it was the work of God’s dark opposite. It was said that an old woman of Rossport in County Mayo, returning home, saw her potatoes rotting and cried, “Oh, the Devil polluted all the potatoes last night. There is not a stalk standing.”
From Three Famines by Thomas Keneally.
Isabel Allende on eating testicles in Aphrodite: “Women don’t eat them. Men do, but it gives them the shivers when they relate what’s on the plate with their own anatomy. … In Asia, they prefer monkey testicles, in America, the bull’s, in other parts of the world, those of sheep and rams. In the United States, animal testes are called Rocky Mountain Oysters. Chopped and cooked, they don’t look like what they are, but even so, don’t give it away until your guests are through gorging on them.”
“we..dined yesterday at our father’s house where were cooked many doves, little singing birds, capons and other fowl, which…our stomachs digested with ease.” From Amerigo by
“She gave him a conspiratorial smile; the waitress brought menus in golden script.
‘Here one takes the choucroute garnie,’ she said.
Sauerkraut? Oh no, not with the way his stomach felt. On the surface, Zannis showed a certain insouciant confidence, but every muscle in his body was strung tight. He was ready to shoot his way out of the restaurant but not at all prepared for sauerkraut.”
Alan Furst in his WW11 novel, Spies of the Balkans.
One heavy zinc-lined case included nothing but spices and gourmet condiments. Tins of ground mustard, celery salt, poultry seasoning, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chutney, orange and grapefruit marmalade, Tabasco sauce, and olive zest. Ever mindful that the expedition would be led by a former president, Fiala even sent Roosevelt a variety of teas so that he could select his favourite kind.
From The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
Speed’s conviction about what others may consider gimmicks all started at Leeds where he saw a 34-year-old Gordon Strachan defy age and appear alert and ready to go every single time... Naturally he asked him the secret of his success. “Eating bananas and seaweed,” came back the answer. Throw in some good old-fashioned Welsh cawl (meat and potato soup), lots and lots of vitamin supplements and special drinks for rehydration and Speed had a diet that he would follow for the remainder of his football career.
From Gary Speed Remembered by Paul Abbandonato
...there is only one way to eat a piece of Battenberg as far as I’m concerned, so let me explain.
First, I’d delicately peel off the lightly dusted yellow marzipan and leave it on the side of my plate, saving the best till last as usual. Next I’d pull apart the squares as if I was a forensic scientist looking for clues to a crime. Then, one by one, pink first and then yellow, I’d pop the squares in my mouth, the spongy sweetness dissolving into a ball in my mouth. Finally came the almondy, sugary, cloying strips of marzipan, sticky on my fingers. I still adore anything marzipan or with almonds or amaretto. Funny how some childhood tastes remain. I even had a tier of Battenberg on my wedding cake.
from Life on a Plate by Gregg Wallace
Langdon dove in after her, bumping, pushing, craning his neck until he spotted her weaving down the bazaar’s western hallway to his left.
Burgeoning casks of exotic spices lined the way – Indian curry, Iranian saffron, Chinese flower tea – their dazzling colours creating a tunnel of yellows, browns, and golds. With every step, Langdon smelled a new aroma – pungent mushrooms, bitter roots, musky oils – all wafting through the air with a deafening chorus of languages from around the world. The result was an overwhelming rush of sensory stimuli...set against the unceasing thrum of people.
Thousands of people.
From Inferno by Dan Brown.
At Christmas 2006 nine Supreme Christmas Feast Hampers were bought for €840 each, €8,300 altogether, also using the on-line retailer..... A further €20,000 was spent .... on the most exclusive bottles of Irish Whiskey in the world: six bottles of Midleton 20th Anniversary and six bottles of Midleton 1973, at more than €1,400 a bottle.
Christmas 2007 saw the society spend €12,000 with ...... for eleven hampers priced €840 each as well as €5,500 on forty-eight bottles of wine (or €114.58 each) from .... ... and ....
It was all very different from the harsh treatment doled out by Fingleton to his smaller borrowers when they fell into arrears.
From Fingers by Tom Lyons and Richard Curran.
On the way home, Striker....stopped in at the Stone Cold Creamery and bought a two-litre carton of ice for Cody and Shana – blue bubble gum, their favourite.
Once back in the car, Felicia stared at the odd blue colour of the dessert and made a wary sound. “This stuff looks like it was made in Chernobyl.”
Striker grinned: “Looks like your attempt at risotto last week.”
“Hey, at least I try – what have you ever tried to make for us?”
“I do all my cooking in the bedroom.”
“Yeah? Well next time you need to preheat the oven a little more.”
from The Guilty by Sean Slater.
Downstairs, I could hear the return of a long-lost sound: Amy making breakfast. Banging wooden cupboards (rump-thump!), rattling containers of tin and glass (ding-ring!), shuffling and sorting a collection of metal pots and iron pans (ruzz-shuzz!). A culinary orchestra tuning up, clattering vigorously toward the finale, a cake pan drumrolling along the floor, hitting the wall with a cymballic crash. Something impressive was being created, probably a crepe, because crepes are special, and today Amy would want to cook something special.
It was our five-year anniversary.
From Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
It was a hard slog, though, on what were the early days of a touring circuit, with primitive roads, transport and equipment. They also had to survive on meagre rations, and Eric Kitheringham has the vivid memory of having to eat raw mushrooms when they were sharing a basement flag in Earls Court in London. The heavy touring was taking its toll.
From Rory Gallagher, His Life and Times, by Marcus Connaughton.
The pleasure in something cooked right, just the small and strangely infinite pleasure to be had from seeing, just witnessing, a tray of freshly baked biscuits. Like I had just completed the Parthenon, or carved Jefferson into a rockface, or maybe the contentment, felt in the very sinews, of the bear when he digs a salmon out of the water with his paw. Mightily healing, deeply, and what else could we have come here for, except to sense these tiny victories. Not wars and civil ructions, but the saving grace of a Hollandaise sauce that has escaped all possibilities of a culinary disaster and is being spread like a yellow prayer on a plump cod steak – victoriously.
From On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry
He (Charlemange) was moderate in his eating and drinking, for he hated to see drunkenness in any man. All the same, he could not go long without food, and he often used complain that fasting made him ill. He rarely gave banquets and these only on high feast days, but then he would invite a great number of guests. His main meal of the day was served in four courses, in addition to the roast meat which his hunters used to bring in on spits and which he enjoyed more than any other food...... He was so sparing in his use of wine that he rarely drank more than 3 times (i.e. three cups) in the course of his dinner.
From The Story of Wine by Hugh Johnson
At the same time, the humble parsnip, or panais in French, has become an exotic vegetable prized by Parisian food bores. Parsnips were long regarded in France as fit to be eaten only by horses and the English. They have now become, according to Le Figaro, “top of the hit parade of forgotten vegetables, with a very subtle taste reminiscent of the artichoke”.
From Our Man in Paris by John Lichfield
When not assembled with the rest for dinner, breakfast, a game of billiards, a walk, you are in your room reading, or lounging on your sofa. Every moment there comes in through your window, open on the garden, “puffs of music” from Chopin, working away on one side, which mingle with the songs of the nightingales and the scents of the roses.
From Famous Women: George Sand by Bertha Thomas
When he was expecting us, he often prepared our favourite meal, melocheya – a kind of specially prepared Egyptian green – with baby pigeons, which he would serve on his table after having spread newspapers instead of a tablecloth on his bare table. We ate with aluminium cutlery, and we ripped the pigeons apart with our hands. The melocheya with the rice was worth the trip.
From The Lost Gospel by Herbert Krosney.
Although Mohammed was diabetic, his uncle had persuaded him that pure honey was compatible with diabetes. “You can eat as much of this as you want; honey is wonderful for the health. What you should avoid is white sugar, city sugar. Honey can only do you good! Alah talks about it in the Koran: There will be exquisite honey in paradise, rivers of honey – it can’t be bad for you.”
So Mohammed ate honey every morning before going to the plant. His diabetes was getting worse......but he would not give up his honey. Hot bread soaked in olive oil, then dipped in honey – that was his treat, his pleasure.
From: A palace in the old village (Tahar Ben Jelloun).
He’d said: “If you’re looking for a room, go next door, pick whichever you fancy, first floor. The key will be in the lock.”
I had chosen the one with the view. A handwritten notice in reception on a wooden table, where a bowl with apples and another with sweets had been placed, said: “Plees, wen to chick-out, leef euros uder doore. Bon voyage.” I thought, this is the place for me. From The Olive Route by Carol Drinkwater.
They decided stocking the cupboards would be a great wedding present, as Uncle Jim and Aunt Norma would surely appreciate this. These guys were practical jokers and took all the labels off every item on the shelf. A lot of cans look alike...especially when they are undressed. Aunt Norma asked me to have lunch with her ..... and it was like a treasure hunt, shaking this can and that can until we found one that sounded right. We were going to have tuna salad sandwiches that day, but the can of tuna turned out to be water-chesnuts, and the peas turned out to be fruit cocktail! So when I say that lunch was different it really was, but Aunt Norma kept a stiff upper lip and laughed about it.
from Marilyn Munroe by Michelle Morgan
There were breads of all shapes and sizes and description; good white wheat bread and rich black rye bread. With the bread there was salmon and caviar, expensive to be sure but it was not every day a girl gets married. The salmon and the caviar were a treat, something to be savoured, but everyone else had pitched in with the rest of the meal. There were varenki – dumplings stuffed with cottage cheese – and, to eat with them, bowls of smetana – sour cream – that could be added to the plates of soup being ladled out of huge tureens by the enthusiastic guests. There was borscht of course, and schi – cabbage soup – and some pungent rassolnik – a kind of meat soup – as well as delicious ukha – fish soup. The room was filled with a heady mixture of aromas as the strong smells and flavours of traditional Ukrainian cooking vied with each other.
From Dynamo (Triumph and tragedy in Nazi-occupied Kiev) by Andy Dougan.
Of all the unchristian beverages that ever passed my lips, Turkish coffee is the worst. The cup is small, it is smeared with grounds; the coffee is black, thick, unsavoury of smell, an execrable in taste. The bottom of the cup has a muddy sediment in it half an inch deep. This goes down your throat, and portions of it lodge by the way, and produce a tickling aggravation that keeps you barking and coughing for an hour. – from The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.
....... Hers was the best apple-tart
in Ireland, you said, made with rough,
sour apples, lashings of beet sugar
from the factory in Mallow, and Bird’s
instant custard from the tin –
from Mary Noonan’s poem Goodnight, Vienna (the Cork Literary Review 2013)
So I went to the Races with my family, Listowel was mobbed and everywhere was beautiful. Then we went up to the dancehall that night; you’d have to queue to get a meal in Listowel that time, there were only a few restaurants; women used not drink much that time, ‘twas all the men that went into the pubs; a woman was considered a bit of a gangster if she drank...
From Mary Keane in conversation with Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Cork Literary Review 2013.
A woman came in and ordered soup, and so it was Aria and this woman together alone, the
server and the served, like a woodcarving or a sketch. Supermarket soup, at a price to make her blush.
"Oh c'est delicieuse," exclaimed the woman beaming.
Aria thanked her and smiled.
''C'est vraiment delicieuse," the woman repeated, the type of woman who would never buy
From Fishing in Beirut by Steven Callaghan
Calls always seemed to come as we were eating. Fidel loved to devour enormous plates of food, and I would make sure visiting TV crews took us to the best Sinaloan seafood restaurants or charcoaled-chicken joints. As calls came about firefights, we would rush out, Fidel still grabbing prawns or marlin off the plates while they were taken away. Out on the road, he would burn the rubber as if he were a NASCAR racer. Mexican crime photographers are the most aggressive drivers I have ever seen, as moving fast is key to getting the photo. We would zoom through the stoplights and arrive to see another crowd staring at bullets on the concrete, another bloody pile of corpses, another family crying.
From El Narco by Ioan Grillo
Taylor's Late Bottled Vintage was launched in 1970 with the 1965 vintage. Not everyone welcomed this innovation. One unnamed source predicted that 'it will kill the Port trade, but it will kill Taylor's first'. In fact the contrary proved to be the case. LBV was a resounding success and gradually other Port houses launched their own versions.
From Taylor’s, The Story of a Classic Port House.
Soon after that we had to register for ‘Kennkarten’, identity cards, stamped with a large J. J for JEW. How a single letter could change everything. We needed those cards to get our ration books, but our rations were meagre, a tiny fraction of those of the non-Jewish population. Two loaves for the German, one loaf for the Pole, a slice for the Jew. Mother’s soups grew ever more watery by the day. We could not get milk or eggs and never any meat. Clearly the German master plan was to starve us, kilogram by kilogram.
From The Puppet Boy of Warsaw by Eva Weaver.
It was....decided to bake the pudding for 1859 in now fewer than eight sections....
.. this pudding was to consist of:
573 lbs of flour
191 lbs of bread
382 lbs of raisins
191 lbs of currants
382 lbs of suet
95 lbs of sugar
A quantity of eggs
360 quarts of milk.
The cost was £45.00.
Nor was that all.....there were provided 1,900 lbs of meat, 1,900 lbs of bread, and an unlimited supply of the staple product of the Paignton Orchards – cider! The recipients of this generosity were to be the poor of the local parishes....
From John Lucas’s essay called Uprisings in the South West, published in the 2011 anthology entitled Maps.
The downstairs bedroom next to the kitchen in our house, Polventon, would often be used for storing live lobsters, crab or crayfish which crawled over the floor, bubbling and making cracking noises. I loved the crab meat and quite liked the crayfish, but the lobster was too intense. It’s firm, white, sweet-salty flesh was too strong for a child and the bright yellow mayonnaise too pungent with the olive oil that my mother always used. How special now are those flavours that I couldn’t take then; the beer tasted horribly bitter, particularly the Whitbread Pale Ale which some of the workers on our farm drank. I can still recall the black, heavy screw stoppers with red rubber seals, and the men sitting with their glasses on the just-filled barley sacks at lunch break during harvest time.
from Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein.
When Mutti filled a big mug with warm goat’s milk and honey and handed it to her, Christine pulled the sleeves of the blue sweater over her wrists and took the steaming cup with her left hand, keeping her tattooed arm in her lap.
Closing her eyes, she inhaled the warm vapours, surprised that she could smell the goat’s diet of sweet grass, and the flower pollen used by the honey bees. She took a long sip and held it in her mouth before swallowing, every sweet, buttery nuance of milk and honey-combed sugar like silk on her tongue. The creamy liquid soothed her raw irritated throat.
“Now that the war is over,” Mutti said, “when your father comes home, I’ll use the last can of plums for a Pflaumenkucken to celebrate your safe return.”
from The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman
This idiocy was not the end of my ambitions. I devised three filets of different fish – say John Dory, monkfish and brill – cooked in three different ways: the John Dory sautéed in butter, the monkfish grilled over charcoal, the brill steamed. They were served with three different sauces: the John Dory with sautéed cucumber, the monkfish with a roasted red pepper dressing and the brill with a cream and sorrel sauce. All on the same plate.
When people ask me for a tip about seafood cookery, and I say ‘keep it simple’ it’s in the light of bitter experience.
from Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein.
My fondest memories of home during my childhood are of Christmas time. Christmas began early in our house. It began really with baking the Christmas cake. My mother would get a store of currants, raisins, candied peel, nutmeg and other spices, and the day of baking the cake was a big day. We gathered round the table as she mixed the ingredients, and there was a lovely aroma. When the cake went into the oven we all had to be really quiet, because we understood that if we made any noise, the cake would fall. It was very exciting, seeing the cake come out of the oven – and there was that gorgeous smell.
from The Road Home by Sister Stanislaus Kennedy.
Favorite food and drinks?
Spaghetti, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream and banana cream pie. I like typical soul food too – greens and rice.
Oh god! man. See, English food, it’s difficult to explain. You get mashed potatoes with just about everything, and I ain't gonna say anything good about that!
from Jimi Hendrix, Starting at Zero compiled by Peter Neal
He tried it again. He’d never tasted anything like it. That was the chemo – he’d read about it, before he stopped reading. How his taste might become heightened.
He sipped again. It exploded – it just exploded – upwards, straight into his brain. He shook. Coffee tastes amazing. X He fired the text off to Aoife. She’d like that.
He looked around. Everything else was normal. The Brazilian young one behind the counter still looked nice...but she was still the same young one - that was the point. Everything was the same. It was just the taste; it was exact, scientific. He wasn’t going mad.
from The Guts by Roddy Doyle
Then there was the yak, bought for fifty-five thousand rupees... and herded up by the Balti porters...... The animal came unwillingly, tugging at its rope. When the expedition tired of dal or chicken and hungered for red meat, the porters bound its legs one day and, as it lay on the ice, they slit its throat.
The blade was blunt, and it took several minutes to hack through the skin. The climbers who had gathered around to watch the ceremony cringed. One of them, Rolf Bae, offered his own knife but the Sherpas warned that no man should give away his knife unless he wants to invite bad luck. Spilling the blood of an animal in such a fashion was disrespectful to the mountain, the Sherpas said; instead they should butcher the yaks and goats at a lower altitude, farther down the glacier, and carry the meat up for the climbers. In the end, the yak bled to death and was skinned and its head was mounted on the rocks outside the cook’s tent.
from No Way Down (Life and Death on K2) by Graham Bowley.
- Rolf Bae was one of twelve climbers, including Limerick’s Ger McDonnell, to die during that August 2008 climb.
I often accompanied my mother when she went shopping....
Levis’s in Castle Street for general groceries where Jimmy Levis or one of the assistants would be sure to invite me to choose a biscuit from the glass-fronted biscuit tins...
Then to Griffin’s in the English Market for meat and from his stall to that of Miss Hurley for butter – Black Swan or Queen of the West.
Fish we ate only on Fridays and then my mother went weither to Russell’s in Prince’s Street or the Baltimore Stores in McCurtain Street.
..... In North Main Street alone there were half a dozen different bakers – D’Arcy, Curran, Simcox, Hosford, O’Shea and at the Castle Street corner Larry McCarthy....most offered pans, ducks, baskets, castles, cottage loaves and plain loaves.
From Six O’Clock All Over Cork by Tom McElligott
Pliny grunted and lifted the wine to the candlelight.
‘A Caecuban,’ whispered Pomponianus, in awe. ‘Forty years old and still drinking beautifully.’ He ran his tongue round his fat lips. ‘I wouldn’t mind another glass myself, Pliny.’
‘In a moment. Watch.’ Pliny waved the wine back and forth in front of them. It was thick and syrupy, the colour of honey. Attilius caught the sweet mustiness of its scent as it passed beneath his nose. ‘And now watch more closely.’ He set the glass carefully on the table.
At first the engineer did not see what point he was trying to make, but as he studied the glass more closely he saw that the surface of the wine was vibrating slightly.
from Pompeii by Robert Harris
The 2 a.m. offering from the cooks at Bletchley Park canteen was enough to make even Mrs. Armstrong blanch – boiled potatoes in cheese sauce with barracuda, followed by a pudding made from two slices of bread stuck together with jam and then deep-fried in batter – and by four, the digestive effects of this, combined with the dim light in Hut 8 and the fumes from the paraffin heater, were casting a soporific pall over the naval cryptanalysts.
from Enigma by Robert Harris
Evening came, and we dined al fresco with the Bedouin to do something different. Oats, groats, goats, tawwa, tea, and tuna. Canned fruit for dessert. The Bedouin liked the syrupy canned fruit and ate up most of our stock.
Kate was allowed to join us if she wore her balto and hijab and sat by herself off to the side.
From The Panter by Nelson Demille
Obviously, I couldn’t avoid Farrow anymore once shooting started... He started right in on me. At night, after filming, Farrow would show up at our home with gourmet dinners from the Brown Derby. He even brought the waiters with him. Mammy would be there alone when he arrived. The director and crew always leave the set before the actors do, as we have our makeup removed and hair set for the next day, so he always beat me home. When I saw that he was at my house, I refused to go in, and instead had to drive around the neighborhood for hours, waiting for him to leave..... I never ate a single meal with him.
From ‘Tis Herself, a memoir by Maureen O’Hara.
‘I was swimming this morning at six....
In the sea. I went down alone. There was no one there at all. I slipped into the water. It was wonderful. Then I went home,’ she said, banging the car door on her side, and taking off with a little whoosh of sand from the roadside, ‘and I ate some strawberries and cream. Katherine Mansfield describes a woman in one of her stories as eating cream with a “rapt inward look”. That is so good. It is exactly like that.’
From On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry
They were extremely poor. The wretched little shop, with its window blocked with packages of Coleman’s Mustard, Cadbury’s Cocoa, etc., did not realize it its stock these splendid advertisements. A few red herrings hung from the ceiling, and a few strings of onions. There was a make believe of two or three gorgeous canisters, on which “Tea” was printed in crimson and gold letters.
From Glenanaar by Canon PA Sheehan.
Bars were as integral to the political scene of post-Civil War Boston as personation, and almost any man who voted right, deserved a free beer, or maybe several free beers, come polling day. Alcohol and politics – each seemed almost an extension of the other. The saloon was the workingman’s club, where politics were debated and ward bosses held court.
from Jack (A Life Like No Other) by Geoffrey Peret.
We ate spaghetti a lot. It was really good with my dad’s special sauce. Before he poured in the chilli peppers, he used to heat it up in a big pan. OMG, it smelled great! Then he would add hamburger meat and let it simmer for hours, covered. Al dente was his preferred way to cook the noodles, and later I got pretty good at that.
My dad’s spaghetti sauce recipe is framed and hanging in our kitchen today, back at the ranch..... Pegi has made it a few times, and it’s great when she does.
From Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young.
Roarty was making an omelette from the mushrooms Eamonn Eales had collected in Davy Long’s park that morning. They were good mushrooms, medium sized and delicately succulent, just right for a special omelette, an omelette surprise. He had chosen the best mushrooms for his own omelette; the one he was making for Eales was special because it contained not only the mushrooms from Davy Long’s park but also a handful of obnoxious, black-gilled toadstools which he himself had picked on the dunghill... He was hoping that four of them would be enough to poison his lecherous barman....
from Bogmail by Patrick McGinley
There was literally an open door for cheap imports, and food, in general, became very cheap. A tin of Black Eagle salmon from North America, about five inches high, cost threepence. Australian butter, very yellow in colour, was considerably cheaper than Irish butter, and cheapest of all was Chinese ham. … These hams were not the same shape or colour as Irish hams; they were more rounded and they certainly stirred some primitive instinct in my young teen’s sensibilities. But some vested interest..put out a rumour that the Chinese had so many women that they were slaughtering the surplus and selling it off as bacon….sales of Chinese bacon..stopped.
From Rory and Ita by Roddy Doyle.
Father put great faith in the curing powers in garlic. As I do myself. To this day I collect it growing wild and use it in all my cooking. So, too, with watercress leaf and dandelion to clear bad skin of pimples, rashes and the like, and the juice of the stinging nettle to purify the blood. Nothing better in spring than to boil fresh young nettles for tea or broth or put the stinging leaf into colcannon, stews, gruels and porridge.
“Good for cleansing the blood,” Mother would tell us.
She brewed nettle wine and nettle beer for several years, but I admit I never had a taste for it.
from The Lightning Tree by PJ Curtis
‘Have you seen this guy’s foam shit?’ I asked, talking about Ferran Adria’s restaurant of the minute, El Bulli, in Spain.
‘That foam guy is bogus,’ he smirked, ‘I ate there, dude - and it’s like...shock value. I had seawater sorbet!’
I wanted to know what he likes to eat, ‘You know, after hours, you’re half in the bag and you get hungry. What do want to eat?’
‘Beef bourguignon,’ he said right away.
I’ve found common ground. Red wine, beef, some button mushrooms and a few pearled onions, bouquet garni, maybe some broad noodles or a simple boiled potato or two to go with it. A crust of bread to soak up the sauce. Maybe I’m not wrong about everything.
All cooks are sentimental fools.
And in the end, maybe it is all about the food.
from Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
“If wine were to disappear from human production, I believe it would cause an absence, a breakdown in health and intellect, a void much more dreadful than all the excesses and deviations for which wine is thought to be responsible.” – Charles Baudelaire, from the Michelin Green Guide: Wine Regions of France.
They saw a man starving, so they began sending monthly food packages via UPS. There was an elaborate roast, capped with a spiked crown and wreathed in red roses. There were deliveries of salmon, tuna, chocolate cakes with thick icing, sponge cakes, pastries, fruits, and nuts. These provisions roused Carter’s long-dormant olfactory senses and satisfied a long-forgotten hunger. The moist meats and feathery cakes also had a powerful tactile dimension. Just holding a piece of roast or a slice of sponge cake, for Carter, was a balm on calloused fingers.
From Hurricane, The life of Rubin Carter fighter, by James S. Hircsh.
Ranty went to the calf and wished her well….and tied a rope about her neck… The animal stood legs outstretched and the veins on its neck...Ranty moved fast and…produced a blade...and made an incision. The beast gave its blood, the fluid draining into a piggin he held on the other hand, and when he had enough he handed the jar to Coyle...and made good the wound with thread.
He boiled the blood with oaten meal and they ate the blackened stew from cracked bowls and not a sound...but for the working of their jaws.
from Red Sky in Morning by Paul Lynch
Ferran Adria, the world’s greatest chef, is from the half of Spain which is riled by Mourinho's scheming. ‘I don’t understand him,’ he says. ‘It’s as if someone from Mars has arrived. The current situation is very strange. … I don't know very much about Mourinho’s evolution, but it seems in England he did the same. His purpose is to manipulate. I’m not interested in controversies. In my field I've won more prizes than Mourinho and I don’t say that everybody is bad…. I think its surreal.’
from El Classico by Richard Fitzpatrick
Bucco licked his lips as he drew near to the cookhouse entrance. Pavo peered inside and looked on longingly as several slaves toiled over a side of pork hanging above a large grill. He feasted his eyes on bowls of sweet figs, grilled mushrooms layered with cheese, and a mouth-watering arrangement of pickled fruit, all carefully arranged on silver trays, together with cakes dripping with honey and a large bunch of freshly picked grapes. His empty belly rumbled with hunger.
‘Let’s get stuck in,’ Bucco said.
‘Hold it.’ a guard gripped Bucco…. ‘This isn’t for scum like you.’
from Arena by Simon Scarrow and T.J. Andrews
The Star Tonic for “Flu”
Four (****) Star
The Safest Port in Times
of “Flu” is
Adverts by Woodford Bourne in the Cork Examiner in the 30s from Irish Examiner 100 Years of News (published 2005)
Revie would recall how Duncan would wait at the ground...for his young apprentices to return from their day jobs - bricklaying, in his case. He’d then take them to his house - there were usually eight or nine of them… - and feed them with his own special recipe of Scottish broth.
To supplement their diet and build up their strength, he’d also send eggs and sherry to their digs, and big bags of oats so they could have porridge with milk every morning before training.
from Clough and Revie by Roger Hermiston
As Best drove through Manchester, he would find himself tailgated by drivers and could escape them only by breaking a succession of red lights. Wherever he went he was hassled for his signature. He couldn’t eat a restaurant meal without interruption. It reached a stage where Best wouldn’t bother to have a starter… He’d choose a main course and hope he’d finish it before being bothered. To eat three courses, Best would have had to order in three different places and run from one to the other.
from Immortal (The Approved Biography of George Best) by Duncan Hamilton.
For a provincial, there’s always tension when you are ordering in a restaurant; there’s the fear of not pronouncing the Italian or French properly; there’s the fear of spending too much money; there’s the fear that your friends are going to order a second bottle of wine and - God forbid - mineral water in a blue bottle.
from Lion Heart by Justin Cartwright
One day, a newspaper had published a highly flattering review…. and everything changed. Letizia often wondered when it was that the man had come in, just one more anonymous diner, and taken his seat at the red-and-white checked table, sampling the ‘red onion-tomato sauce’ and the fantastic ragu meat loaf, a sensory delight’, as he had described his meal. Actually, she was glad she hadn’t known at the time; she was proud of the fact that the reviewer hadn’t been given any special treatment.
from The Crocodile by Maurizio de Giovanni.
Murphy’s four hundred thieves keep coming to Monto for entertainment every night, even as they wreak famine on the working families of the area by day. But some of the Monto girls donate food or money at the Liberty Hall. You have to sneak them in the back door – if your workers or their wives knew where their meal came from, the food would turn to ash in their mouths. Every now and then, Peggy O’Hara makes you liver and onions, and by God, you’re grateful for it.
from After the Lockout by Darran McCann
I scan the room, searching for the man…. The interior of the juke isn’t as dim as I expected, but it smells like every other one I’ve entered in my life. The first wave of odors confuses the olfactory senses - a strange brew of delicious aromas and suspicious funk. Frying chicken, sizzling lard, baking biscuits, fresh corn bread, and onions battle dead fish, stale beer, old garbage, disinfectant, sugary wine, and cigarette smoke… The flashing jukebox in the corner sends Bobby “Blue” Bland throughout the club with bone-shaking bass.
from Natchez Burning by Greg Iles.
I can’t stand it when people grin with just their teeth, it happens quite a lot in New York, especially in restaurants. And what I’d like to know is why do they also prick up their little ballerina eyebrow and ask just one? as if there’s something wrong with you, I mean my wife died in childbirth, maybe I’ve just woken up from a five year coma and don’t know where my buddies are, maybe I’m happy sitting on my own with my black diary and my iPod, OK?.
Maybe I choose to be alone. I don’t, but the possibility should be permitted the way it is for the very rich, very beautiful and very vain who waltz through New York and through Life, without ever being accosted by some snotty, accusatory cow - Just one?
from The Companion by Lorcan Roche
Albion Football Club
Dinner given in honour of the Belgrano Athletic Club
On Sunday June 23 est. 1901
Assortis à la Bienvenue// Canape d’Anchois à la Bonne Amité
Tortue Americaine à la Belgrano
Brotola Normande <<Aux Vainqueurs>>
Petits pâtes de foie gras Au Xme. Anniversaire//
Filet Durandaux, Cresson au Football for ever//
Bécassines bandées a la Referee
Poulets santés Lyonnaise a l’Albion
Petits Pois à l'anglaise à la Prensa Uruguaya
Boudin al Kirsch à l’Argentine
Fruits de saison à l’Uruguayenne
Sauternes - Chàteau Margot - Médoc
Café à la Bresilienne - Liqueurs à la Parisienne
Cigars à la Cubaine
7.30pm Rotisserie Severi
from ¡Goalazo! by Andreas Campomar
‘What will you do first?’ said Oswy.
‘Drink some of my own beer,’ said Wilfrid without any hesitation. ‘God! Get below the Trent and they have no idea what beer is. The stuff we have been putting up with for all those weeks. Bilgewater - straight out of a Grimsby collier.’
Oswy eased his horse round a pothole. ‘I think I shall go for a good roast. …. I have not had a good Lincolnshire roast since November.’
from The Last Viking by Berwick Coates
In the kitchen, she began to prepare coffee the local way. First, she roasted the green coffee beans in a frying pan on the stove…..
Aatifa placed the roasted coffee beans in a bowl. Then she knelt on the floor and furiously ground them down with a thick wooden stick until they had become as fine a powder as she could manage. …. Then she poured the ground coffee into a long-necked clay pot. , filled it with water and sat it on the stove to boil. She expected the Italian would come down soon, once the aroma reached his room.
from The Good Italian by Stephen Burke.
“It’s true, when you think about it,” Colette said with a giggle. “There are frogs everywhere in the world but only the French eat them. Why is that so?”
“The French are the only ones who’ve found out how to eat them,” Luc Giraud said. “Another example of French in-ge-nu-it-y.”
“As far as food is concerned, the French are the champions of ingenuity!” Madame Valette laughed.
from On Leave by Daniel Anselme
What did poor Ashkenazim eat in Jerusalem in the nineteen-forties? We ate black bread with slices of onion and olives cut in half, and sometimes also with anchovy paste; we ate smoked fish and salt fish..... on special occasions we ate sardines, that were considered a delicacy.
We ate marrow and squash and aubergines, boiled or fried or made into an oily salad with slivers of garlic and chopped onion.
In the morning, there was brown bread with jam, or occasionally with cheese.... In the morning I was given Quaker oats that tasted of glue, and when I went on strike they replaced it with semolina and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
from A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz
‘Don’t throw your talent away,’ she said, placing a hand over mine. The skin of the back of her hand was like lichen.
Michel saved me from further painful exploration of this line of thought by bringing two perfect soufflés to the table. He pierced them and inserted a spoonful of Armagnac with the skill of a surgeon.
‘Ooh, look. They can't stay up for long,’ said Irene, prodding hers with a fork so that it collapsed, ‘like the men in my life, dear, darling Michel.’
from White Lightning by Justin Cartwright
The main course was not ambrosia but suckling pig, pheasant, and partridge, with artichokes, courgette, cucumber, and rocket leaves. The latter were a sure aphrodisiac, as were the snails and oysters already consumed. In place of nectar, they drank the finest wines of the empire, Falernian and Mamertine, Chian and Lesbian.
from Iron and Rust by Harry Sidebottom
There’s something wonderful about drinking in the afternoon. A not-too-cold pint, absolutely alone at the bar - even in this fake-ass Irish pub. It’s new, built to look like old. Erin go Bragh bullshit with its four flat screens… The generic Irish bric-a-brac they deliver by the truck-load. Empty moving vans roaming the Irish countryside right now, I imagine, waiting for old Missus Meagher to drop dead into her black pudding so they can buy up the contents of her curio shelves. All of it shipped straight off to a central clearing house, where it’s divvied up between Instant Irish Pubs in New York, Milwaukee,Singapore and Verone.
from Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain.
She drinks too much. Two aperitivos before dinner. A full bottle every night at our table. Afterwards, a night cap or two. Grappa for her, a kind of Italian poitín, and sometimes limoncello. When she drinks, she asks searching questions.’Why haven’t you found a woman, Charlie?’ Why hasn’t she found a man? Not men, but a man. ‘I don’t want to be a serial shagger,’ she says. ‘I want to settle down. It’s almost too late for kids. What happened to us all?’
from No Paradiso by William Wall
Two gentlemen in top-hats were standing in front of us, looking into my face and laughing.
‘Do you eat oysters, lad? Do you really? Most remarkable. And how do you eat them?’
I remember a strong hand dragging me into the brightly-lit eating-house. Within a minute a crowd gathers round and watches me with curiosity and amusement. I am sitting at a table and eating something slimy, salty, smelling of damp and mould. I eat greedily, without chewing, without looking and without trying to discover what I am eating.
from Chekhov, The Early Stories 1883-88, chosen and translated by Patrick Mills and Harvey Pitcher.
Cûc liked to talk about herself, and she didn't hold back during the meal. I’d taken her to Chez Loury, on Carré Thiars, near the harbor. The food is excellent, whatever Gault and Millau say. And they have the best selection of Provençal wines. I chose a Château-Sainte-Rosaline. Definitely the greatest of the Provençal reds. The most sensual.
from Chourmo by Jean-Claude Izzo.
..Bryce is genuinely happy: everything he does from sailing boats to eating a bourride - which now arrives in deep earthenware bowls - makes him happy. The bourride is fiercely red with tomatoes and in this unctuous redness two small local rock fish are half submerged along with some mussels and langoustines; crab limbs break the surface. ….. Jean-Loup says there is some turbot in the depths. He speaks conspiratorially: turbot is reserved for the best customers, he seems to be suggesting.
from Other People’s Money by Justin Cartwright
But now it’s all about ass. You got the last six of them and you’re pretty pleased with yourself about that. That fatty protuberance of rich skin, each one containing fatty nubbins of flavourful, buttery meat divided by a thin layer of cartilage - it’s the single best piece of meat and flesh on the chicken. And, of course, there’s only one of them per animal, so supply is limited. The man fighting a losing battle with verticality across from you…- he’s looking at your chicken asses and he’s angry. You don’t know what he is griping about to the chef - who’s heard it all before - but you suspect that he’s complaining that the lone gaijin in the room got the last piece of ass. You buy him a sake.
from Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain.
When le dessert finally arrives, it looks like an innocent upsidedown chocolate cupcake, accompanied by a small cloud of freshly whipped cream. But when my spoon breaks the surface, the chocolate centre flows like dark lava onto the whiteness of the plate. The last ounce of stress strains from my body. I feel my spine soften in the chair. The menu says Moelleux au Chocolat “Kitu.”
“‘Kitu’ is a pun,” says Gwendal, with his best Humphrey Bogart squint. “It means ‘which kills.’”
I have discovered the French version of “Death by Chocolate”.
from Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard.
We had a light stretch and then returned to the hotel for a lunch of chicken or steak, fish and some beans. For some reason there was always plenty of toast. No bread, no rolls allowed, just stacks of toast. You could have 300,000 pieces of toast, but no bread. I never did work that out.
Liverpool’s Phil Neal quoted in Match of My Life (editor: Ben Lyttleton)
The first time, she tried to spare herself, poking gingerly at the pale stippled skin with the tip of her knife until Jimmie took it from her and ripped the bird (turkey) open from the slot at its rear all the way to the breastbone, and when she tried to dislodge the organs with a knife and spoon rather than her fingers, Jimmie just reached in and tore them out. “There’s nothing to be squeamish of,” he said. “It’s just animals. Meat, that’s all it is.”
from San Miguel by T.C. Boyle
Arthur opens another bottle of wine but spits out the first mouthful.
“Corked?” asks Blanche.
“No, just Californian,” he says, squinting at the label. “La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin.” He quotes the proverb grandly as he shoves the window up to empty the wine into the street.
From the darkness below comes a shout that could be protest or jubilation, it’s hard to tell.
from Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
For this Thanksgiving, Mom had stuffed turkey with cornbread dressing. There was baked squash and Yorkshire pudding. There was home-made cranberry relish, steaming dirty rice and mashed potatoes and rolls made from scratch. She’d decorated the house and used an ironed sheet as a linen tablecloth. She’d been playing old jazz albums on the stereo, the same music she and Pop would listen to years earlier – Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan and Buddy Rich.
From Townie, a memoir by Andre Dubus III.
Last time I was in here, it was Friday and spectacular. A cheeky chien trotted perkily down the middle of the rue with a baguette in his mouth. Champignons, wild like delicate orchids, tumbled from wooden boxes. Monsters of the deep with claws akimbo lay spread on ice. Hares hung from hooks over coils of sausage and chickens that were thick-boned from healthy life. Fromageries oozed their heady pungency. Patisseries seduced me with the sweet scent of tartes, a crumb of which could exhaust your tastebuds for a week. Today is Sunday. Rue des Martyrs is desolate.
From City-Lit Paris, edited by Heather Reyes.
We stop at a butcher’s and buy some meat to grill and milk for the dog, who won’t touch it. I begin to worry more about the animal's health than the cash I coughed up for it. The meat turns out to be horse. It’s incredibly sweet and we can't eat it. Fed up, I chuck a bit away and the dog wolfs it down in no time. Amazed, I throw it another piece and the same thing happens. The milk regime is lifted.
from The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara
The Pudding Shop no longer has a garden. It is just another cafe behind a street window catering to tourists. Happily, it still specialises in Turkish milk puddings of all flavours.
The owner brought me a pudding bursting with fruit and berries. ‘Is special pudding,’ he whispered in my ear. ‘Is called sex pudding. After this, you go three, four times in one night.’ He formed a fist and pumped his arm,winking.
‘Maybe for a Turk,’ I said. “An Australian - oh, maybe twelve, thirteen times.’
The old man roared. ‘For you, this pudding is free. No charge.’
from Turn Right At Istanbul by Tony Wright
One day,... poor Erning has a stroke. …., he is told by his doctor: “Mr Isip, from now on you can only eat things that can swim.” Several weeks pass and Erning doesn’t show for his follow-up appointment. The doctor, worried, decides to pass by Erning’s house, because… they are neighbours…. The doctor rings the doorbell and the maid opens the gate.
Maid: “Yes, sir?”
Doctor: “Where is Mr. Isip?”
Maid: “He’s in the pool, sir.”
Doctor: “Very good. What’s he doing?”
Maid: “He’s teaching the pig to swim!”
from Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
The next morning, we sat across from each other at a table in Bickford’s, addled by physical proximity, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, gulping orange juice and coffee and downing eggs and bacon and toast. Sex had made us ravenous. Black smudges underlined his eyes; secret glee was smeared on his mouth like jam. I wanted to lick it off.
from The Unwitting by Ellen Feldman
Then I found the log I’d been looking for, and sat, and slowly ate the chicken. It was like chewing leather. The ..sinew wouldn't break down, and its toughness made it almost indigestible, my chewing turning the meat into a rubber ball. Queasy over a meal he called a “mess of bouillabaisse”, Henry James said that it was “a formidable dish, demanding French digestion”. Maybe I needed that. I was defeated by the food… and I mocked myself with a pompous phrase I'd heard a foodie use on a TV show: “I regret to say this dish is not fully achieved.” But it was something in my stomach, and that was a victory in this hungry province.
from The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux.
The Madrid players said that the meat they ate every day..was good. But Mourinho..disagreed.
...each cut required its own special preparation. According to Mourinho, this was not being carried out with the necessary skill. ...The chefs had to work with dedication to cook it properly….
As the winter of 2011 passed without his complaints being resolved, the manager ordered Madrid to sack their chefs and change their butchers. He said the eat had a ‘very high percentage of nerve tissue’.
Mourinho waa living days of prolonged and convoluted pain.
from The Special One by Diego Torres
Foccacha is much the same as Italian focaccia, a bit like a croque-monsieur, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, only made with pizza dough. Inside you put whatever you feel like. And you serve it hot. This evening it was raw ham and mozzarella. Just like every day over the three years since Toinou had died, she’d got a meal together for me. She had just turned seventy and she liked cooking. But she needed a man to cook for. I was her man. And I loved it. I got into the boat, with the foccacha and a bottle of white Cassis - a ‘91 Clos Boudard - beside me.
from One Helluva Mess by Jean-Claude Izzo.
A guest who came to lunch on the second or third day of the presidency remembers an array of cutlery which would do justice to a state banquet, and a staff member standing behind each chair - and that was in response to Mary’s request for soup and sandwiches. ‘The food, the style of catering was over-elaborate,’ she says. ‘We kept simplifying it’
from Mary Robinson by Olivia O’Leary & Helen Burke
The drinking of anisette was accompanied by keima - a snack of snails, squid or fried bread, which were staples of the raucous bars of the lower Casbah and around the docks.
The cuisine developed into another badge of a unique French-Algerian identity, using local produce and borrowing freely from Arabic and Turkish dishes. So, alongside the European staples of bouillabaisse and paella, the colons also used spices, mutton, almonds, and fruit such as figs and melons to produce a hearty, hybrid cuisine. Visiting Parisians turned their noses up at its lack of refinement and tended to regard genuine Arab dishes (couscous or tagine) as barbaric.
from The French Intifada by Andrew Hussey.
The coffee machine hisses and sputters the final drops….
She opens the refrigerator door… She takes out the quart of skim and pours a splash into her mug. She grabs the plastic handle of the carafe and fills the mug with hot, viscous, bitter, bracing caffeination. She takes a small sip, then a larger one. She tops up the mug, and again wipes away tears.
from The Accident by Chris Pavone
A- A happy group of us drank our Patrick’s Pot in Fr Seamus Hennebry’s, the parish priest’s house. We had fresh cod’s head, salted marinated ling, smoked salmon, and fresh trout, with green cabbage and fragrant cheese with our meal. We had white wine, port, whiskey and punch in plenty….
B- We have ‘cobbledy’ for dinner today. It is not right to call it cál ceannann (white topped kale) for there is neither kale nor white cabbage in it, but white potatoes, fresh milk, good salted butter, salt as well, and pepper and onions warming it up. Myself, my children and my poor dear wife are gobbling it up - we have plenty of it, but not too much.
from The Diary of an Irish countryman 1827-1835 by Humphrey O’Sullivan.
In this spirit I launch my enquiry into the disappearance of the small and wiry Londoner. The jockey-shaped Cockney, he of the fast fingers and the pipe-cleaner limbs, is an endangered species. Bottoms, and breasts (bristols, boobs, knockers, etc.) are growing unchecked. Londoners are eating McDonald’s, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken. They live entirely on these protein-packed foods with the consequence that they are becoming bulky. The little pickpockets, purse snatchers, chimney sweeps, and sneak thieves have vanished in one generation.
from City-Lit, London, this from an extract from Look At It This Way by Justin Cartwright
“I will willingly tell you everything, Inspector Jones,” I said. “…..I am greatly in need of any help you that the British police can provide.” I broke off as Frau Steiler returned to the table with two bowls of steaming soup and Spätzle - which was the word she used to describe the little dumplings floating in a murky brown liquid. It smelled better than it looked and, with the scent of boiled chicken and herbs rising in my nostrils, I began my narrative.
from Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz