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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Book tasting: 5 literature / snack combinations for your multi-sensory enjoyment

I like books. I like food. I like books about food. But there's only so many times you can read Nigella. So without further ado, and in honour of upcoming Book Week Scotland (starts 24th November!), I give you... Food about books. 

1. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

A classic account of one young woman's nervous breakdown. Esther Greenwood is young, successful and talented. And slipping inexorably into the claws of mental illness. The book follows her decline, all the way to an attempt to end her life, and subsequent recovery in a Psychiatric Hospital. Powerfully vivid and moving, this book reaches into your ribcage and squeezes your heart. But not in a John-Lewis-advert crying at robotic penguins way. In a 'Bloody hell, life is so fragile and we're all just clinging onto the world by the tips of our fingers and the force of gravity way'.

Best paired with

Dark, dark chocolate. As dark as the night sky. As dark as your soul. And ready and primed to stimulate release of the endorphins that will allow you to reach the end of this book without print-smudging weeping sessions. 




2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and more!), Douglas Adams

Arthur Dent wakes one morning to find that his house is in the path of a bulldozer. He is, understandably somewhat irked by this. Things get even worse when he is dragged to the pub by his best friend. Here, he is informed that 
A) his best friend is not from Earth but in fact from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse 5 and
B) This is somewhat of an irrelevance anyway since the Earth is about to suddenly and violently cease to exist. Thus begins an adventure through time and space for Arthur during which he is shot at, exploded, ejected into space and generally put upon. Along the way he meets a whole soap opera's worth of characters, including the most endearing depressive robot that has ever been imagined. If you can read this book without snorting with laughter then you should probably hire yourself out to politicians needing someone to stand in the background looking serious while they claim to have a credible economic plan / any policies at all. Oh, also, I'm not sure we can be friends.* Sorry.

Best paired with

A Milky Way, natch. A core of pure anti-matter / nougat surrounded by creamy milk chocolate. The Earth may be in for a bumpy ride but your tastebuds have  a smooth journey ahead




3. The Oryx and Crake trilogy, Margaret Atwood

Made up of 'Oryx and Crake', 'The Year of the Flood' and 'Maddaddam', this dystopian trilogy follows the events leading up to, and immediately following, the apocalyptic collapse of society. The few survivors include the members of a religious cult, vicious criminals and the mysterious not-quite-human Crakers. Written in the characteristically lean prose of Margaret Atwood, the trilogy is disturbing on several levels. She describes the trilogy as 'speculative fiction' rather than science fiction, as much of the technology in the books is already available or in development. Moreover, the picture painted in the book of the pre-apocalypse society is scarcely more palatable than the post-disaster reality. It is a spiky and acidic view of the world, but there are also moments of beauty and genuine hilarity. Atwood brings the humanity to a world largely devoid of humans.

Best enjoyed with

THERE WILL BE NO CHOCOLATE COME THE REVOLUTION. Best get ready for this with a healthy smooshed combination of nuts and fruits. Wait. There will be no 'Raw Fruit and Nut Bars' come the revolution either? Hmm, preparing for the apocalypse may be more difficult than previously imagined.



4. How to be a Woman, Caitlin Moran

Part memoir, part feminist polemic, all awesome. Caitlin Moran basically spends a whole book being sensible, funny and sensibly funny about the pressures that women still labour under and why feminism is still something worth talking about. Moran has come under a certain amount of fire for writing this, which isn't massively surprising given the nature of the material. It can't be denied though that it is well written, relatable (to anyone who knows or has been a woman), honest and bloody funny. For showing that feminism can be funny, I perform a firm TMHOWROFL (Taking my hat off while rolling on the floor laughing. Very good for your core muscles) in the general direction of Moran.

Best enjoyed with

A snickers. Embrace every part of you / your snack foodstuff of choice, even if it doesn't fit into the outdated gender / confectionery boxes. Even if it means embracing your nuts. Plus, I feel that Caitlin Moran is definitely the sort of woman who would appreciate a sweet wrapper emblazoned with the words 'MORE NUTS'.




5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

Hollywoodafied and remembered fondly by many adults as a magical romp in a world of pure imagination, this is really a characteristically dark book by Mr Dahl. Charlie is a boy growing up in poverty who wins a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour the sweet-factory of the secretive Willy Wonka. He joins a group of spoiled children in the tour, who misbehave and are punished by the factory in various nasty ways. Don't worry though, they're all fine in the end. Sort of. And our hero Charlie's toes have enough acquaintance with the line that he comes through ready to move on to the next exciting adventure! And can we talk about the fact that Wonka's place is staffed by an indigenous people who have been taken away from their home country and are literally paid in beans? No wonder no-one is allowed in his factory. He must be breaking some employment laws. The Oompa Loompas should unionise. 

Best enjoyed with

Ready salted crisps. If you can stomach anything sweet after reading about a young child suffering permanent damage and change in body shape after being squeezed through a chocolate delivery pipe, then you have a more dedicated sweet tooth than me. And for that I salute you.



NO BOOKS WERE HURT IN THE WRITING OF THIS POST

What are your reading-sustenance methods of choice?
*Just kidding... kind of.

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