Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Kafka's Soup

Photograph and text © 2007 by Julius Lester

For those of you who love literature and food, I have the most wonderful book to recommend. It is called Kafka's Soup: A Complete History of World Literature in 14 Recipes written and illustrated by Mark Crick, the first book by this English photographer.

As the subtitle indicates, this is a book of recipes but it is how the recipes are presented that makes the book unique. Each recipe is written as a narrative, but the narrative is in the style of a particular writer. Among the fourteen writers and the recipes associated with them are Raymond Chandler (Lamb with Dill Sauce), Jane Austen (Tarragon Eggs), Franz Kafka (Quick Miso Soup), Proust (Tiramisu), Steinbeck (Mushroom Risotto), Virginia Woolf (Clafoutis Grandmère), Graham Greene (Vietnamese Chicken), and Chaucer (Onion Tart). It is absolutely uncanny how Crick emulates so perfectly the writing styles of such a varied group of authors.The book is a literary tour de force.

I was very familiar with a couple of the writers and, as an English major fifty years ago, had a passing acquaintance with most. The more familiar you are with the writers, the greater your enjoyment. However, if you’re someone who loves to read cookbooks, you might enjoy this. And if you’re looking for new recipes, here are 14 that look enticing.


“Wine is the most intricate song. It encodes the earth and the weather and the people who are responsible for making it. I can find the universe in the taste of a particular wine.”

Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor, quoted in Wine Spectator magazine, 11/15/1997.


A’fingered – Afflicted with hunger, famished, very hungry.


Restaurant table, Mystic, Connecticut