Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried

What a charming, fun book! And, I wish I could remember where I read about Dinah Fried's Fictitious Dishes. Subtitled "An Album of Literature's Most Memorable Meals", Fried combines photos of meals from literature, quotes from the work, and fascinating notes about the book, the food, and its history.

In the introduction, Fried says "Many of my most vivid memories from books are of the meal the characters eat." And, she tries to bring together books and eating in her photos. There are two pages dedicated to each book. One features the quote mentioning that food, along with background information. The facing page includes her dressed-up photo, whether it's on a special tablecloth or a rug. The author carefully laid out every photo.

Curious about the matched books and photos? There's Jack Kerouac's On the Road, with apple pie and ice cream. Of course, Proust's Swann's Way features madeleines and tea. The photo from Beverly Cleary's Beezus and Ramona, a lively children's book, features a plate of food surrounded by crayons on a tablecloth that screams '50s. There's a note accompanying Cormac McCarthy's The Road that says canned foods date back to the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15). Unfortunately, one note is out-of-date as of this week. It's with To Kill a Mockingbird, and says, "Despite her success, Lee never wrote another novel." Did you know that Welch's created modern jam in 1918 during World War I for US Army rations? That note is paired with Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban.

The photos are perfect, completing the quotes from some of my favorite books from childhood, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. But, there are heavier pieces as well such as James Joyce's Ulysses and Jane Austen's Emma. And, there are book summaries for the entire list of books at the end.

Not every meal nor every book will suit every reader. But Dinah Fried's small collection, Fictitious Dishes, is a charming reminder of memorable moments featuring food in literature.

Dinah Fried's website is

Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried. Harper Design. 2014. ISBN 9780062279835 (hardcover), 126p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought the book.


Kay said...

I think this sounds like a fun little book. Must check to see if my library has it.

Lesa said...

It is fun, Kay. Wherever I read about it, I wanted to see it, and my library didn't have a copy. I ended up buying it.

Sharon said...

Lisa, My Norton antivirus locked the link to as a malicious website. I did a Google Search and came up as the site for the author that was not blocked by Norton.

Nann said...

LOL! I read the author's name as "fried" (past tense of "fry") rather than Fried (from the German for "peace.")

Lesa said...

Thanks, Sharon. Interesting because it goes straight to her website when I use that. Appreciate it!

Lesa said...

Ah, just one of those English things, Nann.