As a kid reading some of my favorite books, I yearned not only the clothing or culture of the characters, but I also craved their food and drink. Who wouldn’t want to try Caroline Ingalls’ sourdough biscuits or a taste of her ginger water during chores on a hot summer day? And how about a sip of the infamous raspberry cordial Anne Shirley serves her bosom friend Diana Barry in Anne of Green Gables or a glass of Pernod, the preferred drink of Jake Barnes and company in The Sun Also Rises?
Whether fictional or inspired by real life, some of America’s most beloved stories give us more than just plot and characters – they provide glimpses into everyday habits and traditions, and sometimes we get a mini-cooking lesson. When we partake in the recipes and food rituals of our favorite literary characters, it makes us feel a little bit more like we’re living their life, even if it’s just for one meal.
Every year in Washington, DC, residents in the Capitol Hill neighborhood host literary-themed dinner parties to support local schools. Bars and restaurants with names like Eatonville or Bluebeard, and menu items inspired by Papa, Poe, and Gone With the Wind’s Aunt Pittypat create a literary food trail across the country. Bibliophiles eat and drink up their fill at these spots, because for us, reading is more than just words on a page – it’s an experience.
Readers and scholars have long been culling recipes and highlighting foods that play a supporting role in American fiction. Whether you’re itching to try frontier favorites, Southern staples, or classic cocktails, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a short list to get you started:
When checking out, remember to go to Amazon Smile to support the American Writers Museum just by shopping online!