Failed visionaries?: Sebastian Faulks’s “Human Traces” (2005)

Growing up, I became used to the covers of Sebastian Faulks’ novels, which were frequently strewn over our living room coffee table, or lay on the back seat of the car during our long summer drives across Europe. The face of the “Girl at the Lion D’Or” particularly haunts my memory; the cover photographer captured that sense of “lostness”, isolation and emotional intensity which Faulks … Continue reading Failed visionaries?: Sebastian Faulks’s “Human Traces” (2005)

Come Rain or Shine: Gin and Tonic in Philip Larkin’s ‘Sympathy in White Major’ (1974)

This month the Literary Kitchen is taking an alcoholic turn: it is that time of the year when many of us would like to be outside and enjoy a perfectly cold beer or cocktail; and for me (Nico – but maybe Amy too), when that time comes, it has to be a gin and tonic. Gin and tonic was not at all a popular choice … Continue reading Come Rain or Shine: Gin and Tonic in Philip Larkin’s ‘Sympathy in White Major’ (1974)

‘There is Always The Other Side’: Fried Plantains in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

Until last month, I had never been to the Caribbean. Or the Tropics. Or something that could be vaguely classified as either, except perhaps the North-East of Australia. Then, a few weeks ago I had the chance to go to one of the Canary Islands for a short holiday and its beauty struck me with the strength of a long-awaited revelation. I have to say, … Continue reading ‘There is Always The Other Side’: Fried Plantains in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

Revisiting Fruit Tart: ‘The Woman in Black’

Last year I wrote a blogpost about fruit tart in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White which you can read here. Now, it’s time to retrace my footsteps with apple tart in Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black. Although the title and genre of Hill’s novel is a nod to Collins’s gothic romance, the narrative of The Woman in Black is significantly pared-back compared to … Continue reading Revisiting Fruit Tart: ‘The Woman in Black’

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

Yogurt’s Ancestor: Mezzorado, or Soured Milk in Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Sayings (1963)

As I (Nico) was hiking in the mountains of beautiful Slovenia this summer, I came across one interesting dish: soured milk, or kislo mleko as they call it on the sunny side of the Alps. Made with one main simple ingredient (milk), it is nevertheless complex to make as it can easily go wrong – on one occasion, a farmer had to regretfully deny us … Continue reading Yogurt’s Ancestor: Mezzorado, or Soured Milk in Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Sayings (1963)

Not Quite Scones, Not Quite Biscuits: Welsh Cakes! From Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood (1954)

I (Nico) have never been to Wales. So far, my only points of “contact” with Wales have been: Dylan Thomas a few Welsh people met in England (mainly students) the 1995 film The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain (which may or may not have been popular in Italy during my childhood because of a very young and very charming … Continue reading Not Quite Scones, Not Quite Biscuits: Welsh Cakes! From Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood (1954)

Celebrating Summer?: William Atkins’s ‘The Moor’

Now that spring has arrived (despite the rain and cold in Durham over the past week or so I am defiantly eating ice-cream and refusing to wear my coat), your thoughts, like mine, may be turning to the outdoors. Of course, my plans to undertake an expedition to walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall will probably remain just that – plans – for quite a … Continue reading Celebrating Summer?: William Atkins’s ‘The Moor’

Good Food, Not Just Any Food: Andrea Camilleri’s ‘Inspector Montalbano’s Arancini’ (1999)

Not long ago, I was informed by a student in an essay that the word ‘arancini’ had made its way into Oxford Dictionaries in 2014. This made me smile, of course, because it means Italian can still influence other languages –albeit mainly through food items. Then again, I find it hard to believe that such a specific Italian word for one type of Sicilian street … Continue reading Good Food, Not Just Any Food: Andrea Camilleri’s ‘Inspector Montalbano’s Arancini’ (1999)