Picks and Pans Review: A Feast of Words: for Lovers of Food and Fiction
by Anna Shapiro
This Feast is the literary equivalent of a tasting menu: an elaborately staged succession of signature dishes served in tantalizing bites so as not to exhaust the palate. Here, the master "chefs" are 20 or so of the world's greatest writers. Novelist Shapiro has culled choice morsels from their work: celebrations of food, memorably awful meals, plots that turn and fates that hinge on breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Shapiro also offers dozens of enticing recipes and cooking tips for readers whose appetites have been whetted by such lovingly detailed repasts as the sumptuous feast shared by Levin and Prince Oblonsky in Anna Karenina, the delectable fish chowder served early in Moby Dick, the strawberries that spark a revelation in Emma. It's a pleasure to be reminded of (or to discover) Dora Copperfield's inability to shop for food, the leg of lamb as murder weapon in Roald Dahl's Lamb to the Slaughter and the malodorous Brussels sprouts that spell social disaster in Booth Tarkington's Alice Adams.
This is a book that leaves us with an appetite for novels we want to read and reread—and for meals that we want to cook. A Feast of Words is haute cuisine for the body and the spirit. (Norton, $23)
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