Top | Excerpts

A Food Lover's Treasury

(article, Lynda Murphy & Julie Rugg)

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h3. From Chapter 6: Mood

My mum, I missed her so much. I didn’t wash my clothes because I could still smell the faintest fragrance of her cooking on them. I’d sit there, on the floor by the manky old wall heater, a shirt or jumper in my hands, recalling the array of her specialities: keema, gosht, saag cholay, puree, halwa, chaat, stuffed kerala, lassi saag, and on the mental list went, with me reliving and salivating over the mere thought of any one of her meals, thinking about the care she took over them, the pleasure I took in eating them. Even something simple like roti she prayed over as she slapped off the excess flour, both hands working as one, stretching, spreading, and caressing the dough into a perfect circle every time. 

— M. Y. Alam, Kilo (2002)


h1. About the book and authors

A collection of quotes from memoirs, novels, and nonfiction, A Food Lover's Treasury arranges musings on food by category: philosophy, taste, mood, shopping, manners, and the like. Anthologists Rugg and Murphy previously collaborated on the book A Book Addict's Treasury.

Excerpt reprinted with permission of Frances Lincoln Publishers (2008).


"Now, cheer up, Toad," she said coaxingly, on entering, "and sit up and dry your eyes and be a sensible animal. And do try and eat a bit of dinner. See, I’ve brought you some of mine, hot from the oven!"

It was bubble-and-squeak, between two plates, and its fragrance filled the narrow cell. The penetrating smell of cabbage reached the nose of Toad as he lay prostrate in his misery on the floor, and gave him the idea for a moment that perhaps life was not such a blank and desperate thing as he had imagined. But still he wailed, and kicked with his legs, and refused to be comforted. 

So the wise girl retired for the time, but, of course, a good deal of the smell of hot cabbage remained behind, as it will do, and Toad, between his sobs, sniffed and reflected, and gradually began to think new and inspiring thoughts: of chivalry, and poetry, and deeds still to be done; of broad meadows, and cattle browsing in them, raked by sun and wind; of kitchen-gardens, and straight herb-borders, and warm snap-dragon beset by bees; and of the comforting clink of dishes set down on the table at Toad Hall, and the scrape of chair-legs on the floor as everyone pulled himself close up to this work.  

— Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (1908)

JACK: How can you sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.


h1.Featured recipe


ALGERNON: Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them. 
JACK: I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances. 
ALGERNON: When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as anyone who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins.

— Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)

The cheering sound of "Dinner is upon the table," dissolved his reverie, and we all sat down without any symptom of ill humour. There were present, besides Mr. Wilkes, and Mr. Arthur Lee, who was an old companion of mine when he studies physick at Edinburgh, Mr. (now Sir John) Miller, Dr. Lettsom, and Mr. Slater the druggist. Mr. Wilkes placed himself next to Dr. Johnson, and behaved to him with so much attention and politeness, that he gained upon him insensibly.

[%image feature-image float=right width=400 caption="Buttered muffins should be eaten calmly, according to Oscar Wilde."]

No man eats more heartily than Johnson, or loved better what was nice and delicate. Mr. Wilkes was very assiduous in helping him to some fine veal. "Pray give me leave, Sir: — It is better here — A little of the brown — Some fat, Sir — A little of the stuffing — Some of the gravy — Let me have the pleasure of giving you some butter — Allow me to recommend a squeeze of this orange; — or the lemon, perhaps, may have more zest." — "Sir, sir, I am obliged to you, Sir," cried Johnson, bowing, and turning his head to him with a look for some time of "surly virtue," but, in a short while, of complacency.

— James Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791)

Now, the most pleasant feature of lunch at a country house is this — that you may sit next to whomsoever you please. At dinner she may be entrusted to quite the wrong man; at breakfast you are faced with the problem of being neither too early for her nor yet too late for a seat beside her; at tea people have a habit of taking your chair at the moment when a simple act of courtesy has drawn you from it in search of bread and butter; but at lunch you follow her in and there you are — fixed.

— A. A. Milne, "Lunch" (1934)

Angelica, the lovely Angelica, forgot little Tuscan black-puddings and part of her good manners and devoured her food with the appetite of her 17 years and the vigour given by grasping her fork halfway up the handle. Tancredi, in an attempt to link gallantry with greed, tried to imagine himself tasting, in the aromatic forkfuls, the kisses of his neighbour Angelica, but he realised at once that the experiment was disgusting and suspended it, with a mental reserve about reviving this fantasy with the pudding; the Prince, although rapt in the contemplation of Angelica sitting opposite him, was the only one at table able to notice that the demi-glace was overfilled, and made a mental note to tell the cook so next day; the others ate without thinking of anything, and without realising that the food seemed so delicious because sensuality was circulating in the house.

— Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard (1958)

The servant took away the empty dishes and came back with an earthenware bowl of crayfish swimming in a steaming, delicious-smelling, spicy broth. They devoured them with great gusto. Joyce added even more pepper and then stuck out her tongue as if it were on fire. Alec slowly poured the chilled wine; it made the glasses turn misty.

"We’ll have champagne in our room tonight, as we always do," murmured Joyce, slightly tipsy, while cracking an enormous crayfish between her teeth. "What kind of champagne do they have? I want some Cliquot, very dry."

She raised her glass between her cupped hands.

"Look . . . the wine is the same colour as the moon tonight, all golden . . ."

They drank together from the same glass, merging their moist, peppery lips, lips so young that nothing could change the way they tasted of ripe fruit.

—Irène Némirovsky, David Golder (1929)

Give me Books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors, played by somebody I do not know. 

— John Keats, letter to Fanny Keats, 28th August 1819

p(blue). Congratulations to Dave, Marilyn, and Mickey, who each won a copy of this book on Monday, December 1, 2008 from among all the commenters to that point.

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