What it Takes to Cook Some of Literature's Most Famous Meals | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
Current Issue
September 2014  magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

Clam chowder. Inspired by Herman Melville's Moby Dick: "It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt." (Reprinted with permission from FICTITIOUS DISHES by Dinah Fried. Copyright 2014. Published by Harper Collins. All rights reserved.)
Cheese sandwich and malted milk. Inspired by J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye: "It isn’t much, but you get quite a lot of vitamins in the malted milk." (Reprinted with permission from FICTITIOUS DISHES by Dinah Fried. Copyright 2014. Published by Harper Collins. All rights reserved.)
Crab-stuffed avocado. Inspired by Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar: "He taught me how to eat avocados by melting grape jelly and french dressing together in a saucepan and filling the cup of the pear with the garnet sauce. I felt homesick for that sauce. The crabmeat tasted bland in comparison." (Reprinted with permission from FICTITIOUS DISHES by Dinah Fried. Copyright 2014. Published by Harper Collins. All rights reserved.)
Grapefruit. Inspired by Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. "Then he grabbed a grapefruit and sliced it in half with a Gerber Mini-Magnum—a stainless-steel hunting knife with a blade like a fresh-honed straight razor. [...] He sliced the grapefruit into quarters ... then into eighths ... then sixteenths ... then he began slashing aimlessly at the residue." (Reprinted with permission from FICTITIOUS DISHES by Dinah Fried. Copyright 2014. Published by Harper Collins. All rights reserved.)
Roasted eggs and potatoes. Inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden: "You could buy both potatoes and eggs and eat as many as you liked without feeling as if you were taking food out of the mouths of fourteen people." (Reprinted with permission from FICTITIOUS DISHES by Dinah Fried. Copyright 2014. Published by Harper Collins. All rights reserved.)
A tea party. Inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: "Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea." (Reprinted with permission from FICTITIOUS DISHES by Dinah Fried. Copyright 2014. Published by Harper Collins. All rights reserved.)
Chicken with tomatoes and beans. Inspired by Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird: "The kitchen table was loaded with enough food to bury the family: hunks of salt pork, tomatoes, beans, even scuppernongs." (Reprinted with permission from FICTITIOUS DISHES by Dinah Fried. Copyright 2014. Published by Harper Collins. All rights reserved.)
Party spread. Inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: "On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold." (Reprinted with permission from FICTITIOUS DISHES by Dinah Fried. Copyright 2014. Published by Harper Collins. All rights reserved.)
Food scraps. Inspired by Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis: "There were old, half-rotten vegetables; bones from the evening meal, covered in white sauce that had gone hard; a few raisins and almonds; some cheese that Gregor had declared inedible two days before; a dry roll and some bread spread with butter and salt." (Reprinted with permission from FICTITIOUS DISHES by Dinah Fried. Copyright 2014. Published by Harper Collins. All rights reserved.)

What it Takes to Cook Some of Literature's Most Famous Meals

Dinah Fried's new photo book brings the words of authors such as James Joyce and Lewis Caroll to life

smithsonian.com

Over the past two years, Dinah Fried has created and photographed 50 famous meals from literature. From Holden Caulfield's cheese sandwich and malt to Oliver Twist's gruel, Fried has compiled a collection of images that fascinates food, photography and literature lovers alike in her new book, Fictitious Dishes. "Eating and reading just go hand in hand," said Fried, "we use the same words, to have a voracious appetite for food or for books."

The project began as a series of five images when Fried was a graduate student as Rhode Island School of Art and Design. Fried says the first five ideas came to her easily. Catcher in the Rye, Moby Dick, Oliver Twist, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo all had food scenes she remembered distinctly. The tea party in Alice in Wonderland is iconic. People who haven't even read Oliver Twist can picture him asking for more gruel.

Once she created the five initial dishes and posted them on her website, friends, family and people she didn't even know started giving her ideas for meals to photograph, such as apple pie from On the Road and madeleines from Swann's Way. Fried discovered how easy spanikopita was to make when she made a meal to go with Jeffrey Eugenide's Middlesex. The book described an array of food, "we would become manufacturers of hamburger platters and Greek salads, industrialists of spanakopita and grilled cheese sandwiches, technocrats of rice pudding and banana cream pie."

She created all 50 dishes herself. "Sometimes a little piece of something here or there was purchased, but otherwise it was a challenge to do the cooking myself. And a lot of them were more about the assembling than the cooking," said Fried. Although some had complicated recipes, many were about layering and styling the meals to capture the essence of each book.

Of all the meals she created, Fried recalls Leopold Bloom's famous meal from James Joyce's Ulysses being one of the more difficult dishes. As Joyce wrote:

Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.

Bloom favors mutton kidneys in the novel, but had to resort to using pork kidney, so Fried sought the latter out to compose her dish. "Luckily it's supposed to be burnt, so I had a lot of flexibility in cooking it," said Fried. But that was the easy part. She explains, "it was hard because it made my stomach turn and my house smell."

Browse the images above to get a fuller menu of meals from Fried's book.

Tags

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus