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)

Updating Miss Havisham

Summer is the time when my (Amy’s) social media feeds fill up with pictures of weddings and everyone seems to be talking about the bride & groom’s choice of venue, colours, food, music… This summer the theme seems to be DIY weddings involving hand-crafted invitations, favours, decorations and – of course – cakes. I can now write that I have made my first cake for … Continue reading Updating Miss Havisham

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 400 Years of Shakespeare

Today – the 23rd April 2016 – is the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. Recently, I went to see the amazing National Theatre Live performance of As You Like It (starring Rosalie Craig as Rosalind). The imaginative and daring staging of the forest did full justice to the ambiguity of Shakespeare’s vision of the Forest of Arden. The dim lighting, the sharp angles of … Continue reading Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare

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)

The Flavour of Scotland: Haggis, neeps & tatties, and Robert Burns’ ‘Address to a Haggis’ (1786)

It is Monday, 25 January, and the weather is not the greatest in Edinburgh, Scotland: it is all one grey air, the colour of the houses running out to the sky, and becoming one with it. And yet, one can feel a vague excitement around town. Today, in Scotland (in fact, all around the U.K.) people are celebrating the 257th anniversary of a rather special … Continue reading The Flavour of Scotland: Haggis, neeps & tatties, and Robert Burns’ ‘Address to a Haggis’ (1786)

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)