So it was Pancake Day yesterday – aka Shrove Tuesday – and it’s Ash Wednesday today so it seemed like a good time to recommend some novels where food is a strong theme.
This post actually grew out of an idea to write a Recommendsday for books set in Lent, but I could only really come up with Joanne Harris’s Chocolat. If you’ve never read the book, it starts at the end of Carnival – just before the start of Lent – when Vianne and her daughter arrive in a small French town and open a chocolate shop, to the horror of the local priest, because Lent is the season for self denial. And it all goes from there. I’ve read it several times – and have the sequels too – and it would be a great read for this time of year. But that’s when I got stuck for books about Lent, so I picked up the food theme of the chocolate shop and ran with that instead!
Next up is an author I don’t think I have mentioned here before – Anthony Capella. And I think that’s probably because he hasn’t written anything under that name* for about a decade. But there are five really good mainly historical novels with food at the heart of them – one about ice cream, one about coffee and several set in Italy. If you’ve never come across him before, you should take a look – they’re all available in ebook, which is probably the easiest way to get hold of them.
If you want some slightly more recent fiction, there is Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. I really liked the start of this, but then our heroine starts making some stupid decisions and lost me. But it was one of those “book of the summer” type picks in the US a few years back – so it’s one of those literary fiction type picks that work for other people better than they work for me if that makes sense.
Now obviously there are a lot of cozy crime novels with food. So many of them and they often/usually have actual recipes in them too even if the quantities are all in American measurements (so imprecise when it comes to baking, how does anything ever rise?). I’ve written about the Cupcake Bakery and the Maine Clambake mysteries, but there’s also Joanne Fluke’s long running Hannah Swenson series about a baker who keeps stumbling across murders and Wendy Tyson’s Greenhouse Mysteries feature a farm that has a farm-to-table restaurant and comes with recipes. I’ve been trying out a couple of new to me cozy series over the last few weeks, so watch this space for more suggestions there too.
Happy Wednesday everyone!
*He’s currently writing thrillers under a different name.
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