A Tin of Biscuits: Petit Beurres in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September (1929)

England has been swept by a real heat wave in the last couple of weeks; today, it seems like autumn is finally settling in – the sky has taken grey tinges, the trees are putting up their best colours, and one feels the need of putting an extra layer of clothes on, and using the oven. Today’s recipe comes from France, but is somehow linked … Continue reading A Tin of Biscuits: Petit Beurres in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September (1929)

Michael Longley: Lost For Words

As our Northern Irish readers will know, stoically eating ice cream in the drizzle is something of a local tradition. If drizzle is not available, then usually a heavy downpour means that ice cream can be consumed in the car. I am privileged that my parents now live within 10 minutes’ drive of a fabled ice cream shop – The Cabin in Donaghadee. It’s a … Continue reading Michael Longley: Lost For Words

Endlessly Surprising: Spanish Omelette in Louis MacNeice’s “Autumn Journal” (1939)

To read the poetry of Louis MacNeice is an endlessly rewarding activity. It can be intricately beautiful and philosophically insightful, but politically and culturally astute at the same time. Every time I come to write about MacNeice (which I have done often over the previous eight years), I am surprised again at the deft placement of a word, the freshness of an image, or his … Continue reading Endlessly Surprising: Spanish Omelette in Louis MacNeice’s “Autumn Journal” (1939)

Welcome, 2016! With the Blancmange from James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’ (1914)

Welcome back from the holiday, and a very happy new year from the Literary Kitchen! I do hope you are not too full still from the recent festivities to bear to look at the superb pudding I will be introducing you to today: blancmange. Actually, no. Feeling a little sick may be the best way to approach this dish, as for a good part of … Continue reading Welcome, 2016! With the Blancmange from James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’ (1914)

‘God made food, the devil the cooks’: James Joyce’s Ulysses, or the Irish Stew

I was recently an examiner at a modernist literature exam for Modern Languages (which are done in person in Italy), and one of the poor souls I had to examine came as far as to claim, within the first two minutes into the oral examination, that all novels are realistic, and have a didactic purpose.  Now, nothing makes my hands twitch like broad statements and … Continue reading ‘God made food, the devil the cooks’: James Joyce’s Ulysses, or the Irish Stew

Holes and histories: baguettes in Ciaran Carson’s ‘For All We Know’ (2008)

Belfast-born poet Ciaran Carson is one of the most accomplished wordsmiths to be found amongst the current generation of writers. Born in 1948, he has published over 29 volumes of poetry, prose and translations from Irish. Carson’s indefatigable flair for witty, convoluted, memorable story-telling is cemented in his 2008 volume, For All We Know. This is an absolutely beautiful and emotive novelistic sequence of not-quite-sonnets … Continue reading Holes and histories: baguettes in Ciaran Carson’s ‘For All We Know’ (2008)

From farm to factory: bread in Michael McLaverty’s “Call my Brother Back” (1939)

  The next instalment in our culinary cruise through literature takes us to the north of Ireland and the work of the writer Michael McLaverty. Born in 1904, McLaverty is one of Belfast’s most accomplished proponents of the short story and novel form. His first and best known novel, Call my Brother Back (1939) is an understated, poignant elegy to rural life. Set during the … Continue reading From farm to factory: bread in Michael McLaverty’s “Call my Brother Back” (1939)