The most memorable meals in literature


Food plays a starring role in many movies and books; too many to begin to count. Choosing the best meals from literary works would be a daunting task, yet that is exactly what Diana Secker Tesdell has done. She has compiled a top 10 list of the most memorable meals in literature.

Tesdell compiled the list while researching her anthology, Stories from the Kitchen. As she whittled down the list, she found that “the most memorable meals are those in which much more than food is at stake… When exceptional culinary and literary artistry combine, the results are satisfying in more ways than one.”

She starts with a meal from The Physiology of Taste by Brillat-Savarin, noting  that what “begins as a breakfast demonstration of his technique for egg-and-cheese fondue turns into an impromptu day-long affair as he presses more and more food on his delighted guests. Brillat-Savarin’s wit and love of life are on full display here.”

Not all of the meals on the list are in books by food writers. One of the memorable meals comes from the short story The Manager of The Kremlin by Evelyn Waugh. The story about a young Russian cadet in Paris with only 200 francs in his pocket. He faces a choice of either scraping by on meagre meals for a couple of weeks or blowing the whole lot on one extravagant meal. Says Tesdell, this “choice has unexpected consequences in this short story; perhaps nowhere else in literature has a luncheon of caviar and crepes suzettes so changed the course of a life.”

What literary meals have stayed with you long after you were finished with the book?

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One Comment

  • susan g  on  November 28, 2015

    My husband was serving in Vietnam – 1966-67. I was reading Buddenbrooks, by Thomas Mann. We were both already interested and learning about food, cooking and food history. The novel describes monumental meals of that era, and I thought it would be wonderful to cook them when he returned. He came home, but we never made the meals. Nice memory, though.

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