If I was going to write a book (and was also an ace photographer and a brilliant stylist), it would be exactly like Dinah Fried’s Fictitious Dishes. There couldn’t be a more perfect book. Why? It’s best summed up with its subtitle – ‘An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals’.
This gem of a book combines literature, food, beautiful photographs, memorable quotes, and historical and factual detail about the books and foods included. It’s a masterpiece. And difficult to review because I find it tricky to get passed the brilliance of the whole thing.
I stumbled across the book late last year and immediately placed my order. Then I forgot about it for a bit. One day I opened my letterbox and there it was. The afternoon was lost as I became totally engrossed in buttery crumpets from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca; Kerouac’s apple pie; sweet potatoes served with Gone With the Wind style; and a meal of grapefruit, a la Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Fried has selected a range of fifty books, from classics (Lolita, Moby Dick, Emma, Ulysses) and contemporary literature (The Corrections, Valley of the Dolls, American Psycho, Heartburn) to children’s literature (Bread and Jam for Frances, Beezus and Ramona, Anne of Green Gables). A culinary moment from book is recreated and photographed, the detail in each is meticulous.
My favourites are of course from books that are also my favourites – I love the simple roast potatoes pictured for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, a book that captured my imagination at a very young age; the Southern-fried goodness of the spread for To Kill a Mockingbird; and the array of hors-d’oeuvres for The Great Gatsby.
4.5/5 As a ‘foodie’ read, this is the ultimate.