It wasn't until I developed a passion for cooking and started reading Andrea Camilleri that I realized how food can be an important element in a novel, it can tell its own story. The mutton chops mentioned by Anthony Trollope certainly tell a story, different from the one told by the extra-large portions of (mostly traditional Sicilian) dishes that police inspector Salvo Montalbano cleans up at regular intervals.
In talking about some of those dishes with Lisa of Champaign Taste, she came up with the idea of cooking something from the Montalbano stories and from that seed, the co-hosted Novel Food event was born. The fascinating stories fellow bloggers tell always amaze me. I will cut this introduction short so you can read and enjoy them as much as we did. If you start your perusal here, make sure you then go to Lisa's portion of the round-up and get another serving of wonderful entries. And now, without further ado:
In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion narrates the events following the sudden death of her husband, giving a moving account of her experience of loss. She misses everything about him, including their meals together. Julia of Cooklady Goes to School lovingly recreated one of those meals: shrimp quesadilla and chicken with black beans, enriched by fresh seasonal ingredients.
From paroledicioccolato arrives a post about the ultimate chocolate novel, Joanne Harris' Chocolat, where Vianne fills La Céleste Praline, Chocolaterie Artisanale of heavenly morsels. After making everybody's love, chocolate truffles, Fabdo garnishes them with a delicate sugared rose and places them in a dainty caramel nest: a feast for the eyes and the mouth.
Anthony Capella's The Food of Love has provided to Paz of The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz inspiration for several dishes, including everybody's favorite dessert, Tiramisu. For this event, Paz took a little walk down memory lane and revisited a simple yet delicious recipe from the early days of her adventures in cooking: peaches in red wine, a perfect pairing.
Accompanied by Susan, The Well-Seasoned Cook, we consider Alice's (the heroine of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) response to labels instructing her to do certain things, and the consequences she has to face in terms of size change. We then consider traditional cookies called Speculaas, imprinted with the most inviting label you can imagine. Then it will be our turn to face the consequences.
Our journey ends at inspector Montalbano's house, with three of Adelina's productions:
From Andrea Camilleri's The Terra-Cotta Dog, Alex of Cuoche dell'altro mondo offers us La pasta 'ncasciata del Commissario Montalbano, a decadent dish that well represent the rich Sicilian culinary tradition. Alex gives her recipe in Italian (her native language) and German (her adoptive language): if your language is English, when you read Lisa's entry for the event you will be greeted by a pleasant surprise (and an example of serendipity in action). The post also introduced me to the Rai Click site where Montalbano movies are available.
As a side dish to rich pasta 'ncasciata, I offer two vegetarian options: peperoni arrosto (roasted bell peppers, from The Shape of Water) and cipollata (a name I like to translate as 'a feast of onions,' from Excursion to Tindari). From the Montalbano's veranda overlooking the Mediterranean we can look at the soothing movement of the waves. Life's turmoil has quieted down for a while and we can focus on the perfect morsels in our mouth. Take your time savoring them, then travel over to Lisa's portion of the round-up and enjoy the rest of this culinario-literary journey.
Simona, thank you for telling me about the Montalbano books and for cohosting this event with me. It was so much fun. I love everyone's contributions; it IS amazing what they (we!) all came up with.
Ciao for now. :)
Posted by: Lisa | September 22, 2007 at 02:55 PM
I love this lineup and I love the idea for this event. Thanks for putting it together. I plan on looking for Montalbano's books to read.
Posted by: Paz | September 22, 2007 at 04:06 PM
Simona, these were all great reads. Your Inspector Montalbano reminds me of another gourmand detective, Nero Wolfe. I've introduced a relative to him; I think she (and I!) would like Salvo, too. Thanks for the terrific round-up!
Posted by: Susan | September 22, 2007 at 04:37 PM
Simona, You and Lisa did a great job on this event. Thank you so much for all your work. It was so much fun and the roundup foods look fantastic. Now I am off to the other contributors blogs :)
Posted by: Maryann | September 22, 2007 at 04:50 PM
Simona and Lisa thank you very much for giving us this original opportunity!
I've enjoyed it all along!!! :)
Posted by: fabdo | September 22, 2007 at 05:15 PM
Simona - I have been visiting all the novel food posts and really enjoying it. Great idea!
Posted by: Lori Lynn at Taste With The Eyes | September 22, 2007 at 05:33 PM
What a great roundup, Simona. My mouth is watering and my curiosity is piqued by all these novels. My book list is growing longer!
Posted by: Christine | September 22, 2007 at 05:47 PM
Thank you all for your kind comments.
Thanks Lisa: doing this with you was simply great.
Paz, Susan, Maryann and Fabdo, thanks for contributing your amazing creativity to the event.
Thanks Lori Lynn and Christine: your enjoyment and growing book list is a great compliment.
Susan, I need to get hold of some Nero Wolfe: I have seen movies many years ago, but I really would like to read the book.
Posted by: Simona Carini | September 23, 2007 at 08:35 AM
He's on my Amazon with list, as well!
Wonderful event and great recipes....How Fun!
Posted by: Katie | September 23, 2007 at 12:41 PM
This is some book list~where do you find the time to read all these? I have been away and missed out on this wonderful round up you did....I will try to catch up soon! Are you still going to IT? Let's meet up..Email me...
Posted by: Jann | September 23, 2007 at 04:56 PM
Thanks Katie, I am glad you enjoyed it.
Welcome back, Jann. I am leaving in less than a week. I will email you soon with the details.
Posted by: Simona Carini | September 23, 2007 at 05:39 PM
Wonderful round-up and fantastic recipes! Thank you Simona for hosting this event and for the great job you an Lisa did. I love Camilleri and Montalbano and enjoyed it very much to cook his favorite pasta! Ciao e a presto, Alex
Posted by: Alex | September 23, 2007 at 07:45 PM
Thanks Alex. It was really fun. And thanks also for the link to the movies. I am adding it to the post.
Posted by: Simona Carini | September 24, 2007 at 08:43 AM
I need to give you my itinerary,too-I would love to meet up with you and share a coffee or meal......
Posted by: jann | September 25, 2007 at 04:46 AM
I really wanted to participate but I just don't have the time right now. I love the idea! Please do it again some time! Great entries!
Posted by: ilva | September 26, 2007 at 04:10 AM
Thanks Jann: we'll see what we can make happen.
Thanks Ilva. Lisa and I are planning to do it again and we will announce it as soon as we decide on a time frame, so stay tuned!
Posted by: Simona | September 26, 2007 at 11:19 AM