It was the stack of cheese that first caught my eye. I was delivering a meal to a friend who had just had a baby. Her cherub was sleeping soundly, and my friend was catching up on her latest read. She set aside “The Pickwick Papers,” popped a slice of cheese in her mouth and explained with a grin, “Dickens always makes me hungry.” We laughed as I unwrapped a freshly baked loaf of bread. The loaf itself seemed to pair well with the Dickens atmosphere, and I could envision Oliver Twist begging a crust or two.
Since that encounter of long ago, I’ve continued to observe how literature often prompts one to seek a “little smackerel of something,” as Winnie the Pooh would say. And as I’ve grown to know and love a variety of books throughout my kids’ childhood, sometimes the reverse is also true: a certain food will remind me of a book. This past summer, I took my daughter and niece blueberry picking. The “kerplunk” of the berries in the bucket immediately brought to mind Robert McCloskey’s picture book, “Blueberries for Sal.”
The tangy coolness of October and the bountiful fall harvest often invite us to seek homey culinary pursuits. (Raise your hand if your Pinterest boards are bursting with pumpkin bars and apple crisps.) My mom often recalls an idyllic autumn scene from our past when I was a toddler and the apples were beckoning. She plopped me into her backpack carrier, stepped into our backyard, gathered a basketful of apples, and promptly whipped up an apple pie. With a family affinity for “Little House on the Prairie,” she reminisces, “I felt just like Caroline Ingalls!”
What better way to both celebrate fall feasts and continue the natural thirst for learning that accompanies this time of year, than to enjoy some old-fashioned, literature-inspired foods? Here are just a few book titles, suggested according to approximate age range, to get your family started. In no time, you’ll have your own mouth-watering booklist.