Watch me dive into a foodie fiction feast for months and emerge with a handful of favorites. However I must warn you, this exercise will leave you hungry for more. Luckily there are plenty of novels where food serves as a metaphor for life to choose from.
I hesitated what to call this blog post. Novels with recipes, foodie fiction, novels about food, kitchen chronicles. There are plenty of novels out there that feature food as a central element. However I am not completely certain what to call it. In the end I decided to stick with foodie fiction feast. I was while I was writing my own novel inspired by adventures that happened in the kitchen that I found myself reading all these novels for inspiration. Here is a summary of that adventure.
Foodie Fiction Feast Favorites
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
This novel is simply hilarious. Although it is a flawed novel, I frequently find myself remembering certain scenes in it. Like the scene with mashed potato. Or the scene involving lemon meringue pie. I reviewed it here in the past. A food writer tells the heartbreaking story of her divorce…… The most funny fashion you could possible imagine. A foodie fiction feast winner.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
This novel is also funny, but in a chilling disturbing way. A fine dinning obsessed psychopath navigates Wall Street in between killing sprees. The food is described in such poetic grandeur I wanted to like the guy. One of several funny elements in the novel is the fact that Donald Trump is mentioned several times through out the story. Given recent world events, it gives this 1991 book an eerie feeling of prescience. This is foodie fiction with a horror twist.
The Dinner By Herman Koch
It starts out as a regular dinner in an expensive restaurant between two couples. Things unravel into a direction you could never imagine. The less I tell you the better. What I loved most about this novel is the language. There were these passages that made me go: “Ooooooooooh!” The literary equivalent of drooling. Allow me to give you an example. This is one foodie fiction feast I wish I had written.
The void here, that part of the plate on which no food at all was present, had clearly been raised to a matter of principle. It was as though the empty plate was challenging you to say something about it, to go to the open kitchen and demand an explanation. “You wouldn’t even dare!” the plate said, and laughed in your face.
Here is another gem.
I bet my brother fucks the way he eats, that he stuffs himself into a woman in the same way he stuffs a beef croquette into his mouth …
Spoonful Chronicles by Myself
In order to unlock the secret to her destiny, one woman must recount everything she has ever eaten. Learn more about it here.
Foodie Fiction Feast Worth A Mention
My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
The novel tells the story of an American Japanese woman producing a cooking show in the US for a Japanese audience. The part of the novel that I enjoyed the most was the element of how Japanese and American cultures clash. All the misunderstandings the people in the US hold about Japanese culture and vice versa. This one woman in the middle trying hard to make it work for both sides was well done. The novel lost me towards the end. It felt a bit preachy as it dived into activist mode discussing hormones in cows … etc.
The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
“Please be better than the movie” I thought as I picked up this book. The movie based on this book is atrocious. Luckily the book is better. I enjoyed the element of Indian cuisine clashing with the French counter part. However over all the story was all over the place. Towards the end I felt bored and simply wanted it to end. For example there is a prolonged section that discusses how the French government imposes taxes on fancy restaurants and how that impacts their business. The part could have easily works as a news article in a magazine and left out of the novel.
POW! by Mo Yan
Ever since the author won the Nobel Prize in Literature, I wanted to read something written by him. This story about a boy obsessed with eating meat fit the bill in the foodie fiction extravaganza. There are many passages about food that will stick with me. For example, the mother of the protagonist tells him that one day she will roast a whole cow, bury him inside it and let him eat his way out. This image is so disturbing and so disgusting, it might turn a few people into vegetarians. I did enjoy the description of rural life in china. The intricate dynamic of how people in small village interact with each other. The novel does a good job of allowing the reader to imagine it all. Where the book lost me was the repetitive description of things. For example, the book describes one incident in detail where the mother is abusive to her son. Then is it gives another example and another and another until I felt like screaming: “I get it! she is bitter and angry and taking it out on her son. Can we pleeeeeeeeeeeeease move on.” There were too many of there repetitive elements that spoiled the reading experience for me.
The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan
This was a fun easy breezy read. A woman navigates the daily life of being a mother and wife while attempting to manage her husband’s obsession with staying anonymous. Parts of this novel were fun to read. But the stakes stayed low for me. I didn’t feel immersed into the book. Ultimately, I didn’t care what would happen to the main character.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
I walked away from this novel feeling underwhelmed. This novel has won the Booker prize and received positive reviews by many. So I might have spoiled the reading experience for myself by having high expectations. A woman decides to stop eating meat after a disturbing nightmare. This leads to devastating consequences in her personal and family life. It is a sad and dark tale. Perhaps something got lost in the translation. But I don’t get why it is has been so highly praised.
If you enjoyed this foodie fiction feast, you might enjoy this actual food feast.