Author Joanne Harris spent her earliest years living above her grandparents’ sweet shop in Yorkshire. She spent her girlhood summers with her French grandparents in Brittany. Small wonder that she contrived a magical blending of those experiences in her novel Chocolat. Subsequently, Harris wrote the cookbook The LItte Book of Chocolat, which contains fifty recipes for a variety of chocolate delights.
Like Chocolat, food inspires transformation of the story’s characters in the short story Babette’s Feast. Author Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) published the story in a 1958 collection, and the 1987 movie follows the original closely. The movie, which is one of my favorites and a beautiful tale of grace and generosity, won an Oscar and eleven additional awards.
Julia Child’s recipes inspired Julie Powell, saving her from the soul-numbing secretarial job and the deafening tick of her biological clock. Powell’s memoir Julie and Julia chronicles her “year of cooking dangerously” as she works her way through Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
In the inspirational market, Sandra Byrd’s French Twist series of contemporary novels brings food to the forefront by including recipes in each food-rich book. As readers might guess, Byrd is very much a foodie herself. She often shares photos of her mouth-watering creations via social media. Foods from the French Twist series are featured on a Pinterest page.
Food has inspired more than 50 posts on my blog The Italian South. These range from my grandmother’s Christmas pastry to foods I have discovered during trips to Italy, for example. I hope you will check them out.
My own memoir, The Drive in ’65, (coming out later this year) includes its share of food-inspired scenes—from my first taste of mango, fresh from a tree in my great-uncle’s yard in Florida to a cactus milkshake shared by eight people as we drove across the desert. Although food is an everyday experience for most of us, the experience of food in the contexts of life–feasting, flavors, new cultures, romance–can inspire us whether we are writers or not.
How about you?
Have you written about food? Has a food related book inspired you? Please share in the comments! And click here to sign up for my newsletter–I hope you’ll find inspiration there too!