We met at graduate school, while both reading for a Ph.D. in English Literature, and soon became good friends, bonding over a love of baking, good poetry, and reading.
For several years the idea of a ‘literary restaurant’ or a bookshop/café has been swirling around our heads. For Nicoletta, the menu would include dishes encountered in her favourite literature. Dante’s unsalted bread would perhaps be a starter with some olive oil to accompany it; Yoshimoto’s katsu curry would be one of the main lunch courses, and probably Tabucchi’s Portuguese sarrabulho (if customers could be convinced to order it at all, as its appearance is disgusting, but its taste heavenly); Proust’s madeleines and Ibsen’s macaroons would then make their appearance for afternoon tea — the idea was that the menu would change according to the season, and would obviously follow my readings. Amy longed to combine the rich smell of old books encountered in so many libraries with the aroma of freshly baked bread.
So, having finished our PhDs, we decided to transform our idea of a literary café into a virtual space, where we could make recipes from our favourite books – with some exceptions. In a world with increasingly more and more blogs about literature, and about recipes, and about food and literature, Nico and Amy’s literary kitchen will be different, because it does not want to be a self-evident reproduction of famous dishes from books, or to show what certain authors would eat or drink in their time.
Rather it will merge two passions, one for good food and one for good literature, into a blog which combines recipes with a half-serious contextualization and commentary on the literary importance of these foods. Why does Marcel eat madeleines, and not macaroons? What kind of macaroons was Ibsen’s Nora raving about? Why does the Queen of Narnia give Turkish Delight to Edmund, in order to seduce him, and not madeleines, for example? What on earth are the mysterious pickled limes which Amy (yes, my namesake) eats in Little Women? When Leopold Bloom burns the kidney he is cooking for breakfast … no, we’re definitely not going there!
We decided to bake our way to the answers to these questions. We hope that the result will give you a new angle of some of your best-loved reads, or introduce you to new books and foods. Welcome to The Literary Kitchen…