I achieved a small victory recently when, after trying to persuade him for months, a friend finally started reading the Game of Thrones series. My feelings of excitement were short-lived, though, because he didn’t want to talk about theories on Jon Snow’s parentage or about how Jaime Lannister is, despite having fathered several children with his sister, the best character ever. No, what my friend wanted to talk about was how boring and unnecessary all the descriptions of food are in the books. “There’s just pages and pages listing what’s served at the feasts,” he complained. “I don’t care about blackened bacon and flagons of mead.” And I have to admit (grudgingly) that he has a point.
I love reading about food in novels, but not when it’s just unadorned recitations of what’s sitting on a banquet table. No, that kind of food writing never stands out. It lacks the emotional component that really great food writing contains, that specific quality that makes the reader fondly remember the food described for years to come, so that, for example, Turkish Delight is forever associated with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (“each piece was sweet and light to the very center and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious”) and so you can forgive the fact that it tastes like rose-flavored soap. Actually, don’t forgive that. Turkish Delight is awful. But so, the following ten foods and drinks are indelibly bound to the books they’re a part of, and so indulge in them and connect with some of the finest culinary moments in literature. And even if you haven’t read these books? And so these meals mean nothing to you? Well, this food is good enough on its own that you really don’t need any excuse to eat it at all. Enjoy.