ReadersMagnet Review takes a look at stories that tell about recipes and delightful cuisines.
Food recipes make great stories. They say that behind each great recipe is a grand narrative. It can be a tale bout great love, an epic adventure, a wonderful discovery, or a magical moment that inspired someone or a community to create a certain, timeless dish. Often the dish is passed on from one generation to the next, along with the story behind it, like a priceless treasure or heirloom. Many of these great stories about food and recipes are immortalized in novels, poetry, and other literary pieces. Today, ReadersMagnet Review takes a look at some of these great works about food, recipes, and the stories behind them.
Perhaps one of the most celebrated novels about food is Laura Esquivel’s 1992 book Like Water for Chocolate. This classic magical realism novel featured a number of themes such as family, tradition, heritage, and finding one’s identity. The story follows Tita dela Garza and her journey together with her mother Elena and two sisters- Gertrudis and Rosaura as they cross the US-Mexico border to begin a new life. All throughout the story, food and cooking play a central theme (the main character Tita is raised by the family cook, Nacha, and her love for cooking is borne out of her fate as the youngest child). Filled with drama, passion, and romance, Like Water for Chocolat has sold almost a million copies and has been translated to numerous languages. Another famous work that has gained critical and commercial success is Chocolat by Joanne Harris. This 1999 romantic novel has been catapulted to superstardom via its movie adaptation starring Juliet Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, and Carrie-Anne Moss. It follows the journey of an expert chocolatier, or a person who makes confectionery from chocolate. Aside from its unique love story, the book touches on the themes of preserving heritage, embracing new realities, and appreciating the beauty and wonder of a small community. Chocolat is a heartwarming tale that features not only rural traditions but also the simplicity of village life. For those who love novels about food, Fannie Flagg’s 1987 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is among the most memorable literary work about recipes and cuisines. It is a timeless narrative about friendship and coming of age as the main character, Ninny Threadgoode, tells her stories of her youth at Whistle Stop. The stories cover the period between the 1920s and the succeeding years. Although the book does not center on food per se, it features the daily sceneries of a cafe and the lives of people who frequent there.
Modern Food Stories
Over the years, stories about recipes for food lovers have changed, but they still retain the old ingredients for making delicious and satisfying narratives. One interesting work is that of Anita Legsdin’s Remembrance of Meals Past. This 2014 gem is a collection of stories; some are based on actual events while some are fictionalized tales. Each of the stories is features a certain cuisine, dish, or meal experience. In her work, Latvian-American home cook and author Anita Legsdin share funny, witty, heartwarming, and even silly tales of various human encounters related to food or meals. Readers will definitely enjoy Legsdin’s unique brand of telling narratives, and Remembrance of Meals Past is the kind of food novel one will unlikely forget.
Recently, several published works featuring stories about recipes and cuisines include The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate. It was published in 2010, and it follows the story of a fortune-teller who could foretell the right partner for a person. More importantly, her Italian cooking is said to have miracle powers that can save marriages. Another remarkable work is the 2007 novel by Nicole Mones entitled The Last Chinese Chef. It is another romantic novel about an American food writer in Beijing who is recently widowed. When Maggie’s magazine editor assigned her to profile prominent Chinese-American chef Sam, she discovers a magnificent history of cuisine ancestry, and the mysterious chef being the last of the line of China’s gifted chefs. The Last Chinese Chef is a modern narrative that takes us to ancient Imperial China, its tradition, heritage, and majestic cuisine.
These are just some of the works that celebrate food and stories for food lovers. There are many others that are waiting to be discovered. Food stories will always produce wonderful adventures and unforgettable moments because they are much a part of the human experience.