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)

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)

The crème de la crème of afternoon tea: Chester cakes in Muriel Spark’s “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1961)

I came to Muriel Spark by a rather odd route: through the poetry of Louis MacNeice. If you follow this blog regularly you will probably be slightly bored of the fact that I frequently mention my absolute passion for MacNeice’s writing. If you feel that thought brimming up inside your mind, just go and read MacNeice’s Autumn Journal and hopefully you will understand why my … Continue reading The crème de la crème of afternoon tea: Chester cakes in Muriel Spark’s “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1961)

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)

A Neglected Classic: Mildred Taylor, “Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry” (1976)

Last weekend I went into a bookshop chain and saw copies of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman arrayed on a table just inside the door, waiting to be lifted by the hordes of Christmas shoppers anxious to please bookish friends and relatives this year. There has been a lot of disappointed, indignant, or outraged talk recently about Go Set a Watchman – the sequel to … Continue reading A Neglected Classic: Mildred Taylor, “Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry” (1976)

A Literary History of Chocolate: Part 4

In both Mayan and Aztec civilizations chocolate was not only considered as a delicious and invigorating drink, but also as a form of currency: this partly explains why chocolate was drunk by mostly rich and noble men. Also, in the Maya culture only, wealthy men deemed chocolate an important part of engagement ceremonies and weddings: ‘one of the things that people did at such festivities … Continue reading A Literary History of Chocolate: Part 4

Inject a bit of colour into your summer with “Changing Places” by David Lodge

David Lodge’s Changing Places is absolutely my favourite comic novel. If you haven’t read it, you should do so immediately. From the startling, original, precise, intriguing first sentence, Lodge tells the story of two lecturers of English Literature who swap jobs, continents – and then houses and families – for six months. The novel’s scope takes in the ever-changing scene of academic and modern life … Continue reading Inject a bit of colour into your summer with “Changing Places” by David Lodge

Alive and kicking: Sushi in Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters (1943-48)

Three months ago, I was travelling around Japan, the land of dreams to me (and a whole lot of other Westerners, it seems), and my enthusiastic foodie self found much to revel in: I don’t think I ate the same thing twice when I was there, as everything was so overwhelmingly tasty, and different, that I felt I had to try everything that came my … Continue reading Alive and kicking: Sushi in Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters (1943-48)