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.