Book Review: Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals by Dinah Fried

Fictitious Dishes:  An Album of Literatures Most Memorable Meals

I recently picked up Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals by Dinah Fried with the expectation that I’d soon be trying out some new recipes.

I was mistaken.

So my initial reaction to this book was one of disappointment.

But I was still intrigued, as I usually am with anything related to either novels or food {and this had both!} so I sat down and began to read it from the beginning.

I found the author’s description of her process to be quite entertaining, and I think I would have enjoyed hearing more about her story.  After all, she chose some books with which I was completely unfamiliar and some times she chose foods that I wasn’t able to identify or match to the descriptions.  So even though I enjoyed the tidbits of facts on each page, I would have liked a meatier {hehe} explanation.

There were a wide variety of books documented here, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Secret Garden, pictured above, to others like Moby Dick, Lolita, and American Psycho.  I liked finding so many different titles, but there are so many, many more – endless, really – options for inclusion in a book like this, that I kind of found it too short.

I want to make sure that I stress that I really did like this book.  But I also want to stress that it’s a coffee table book, not a cookbook.  Gazing at the creamy chowder and crusty bread in the rustic setting of the author/photographer’s imagining of Moby Dick left me craving a warm soup to combat the dreary, rainy weather I could hear in my memory.

Which also made me realize that the book had accomplished its goals.  The author tells us that she hopes her work will “transport [us] back into fictional worlds,” and for the books we haven’t read, that her photographs are there to “offer a little taste of the stories.”

So not a cookbook.  An art book.  A photography book.  A recipe book, but not recipes of food.  Recipes of the subconscious lingerings that great books leave behind in us.

And once I understood the purpose of the book, I was able to devour it {snicker} with relish {I could do this all day…} and find amusement in the playfulness of the props and the colorful culinary interpretations.

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