Consumption and the Literary Cookbook
In the 1960s, long before there was Julie & Julia, an aspiring writer named Nora Ephron cooked her way through the holy trinity of cookbooks: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Michael Field’s Cooking School, and Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cook Book. In a New Yorker column from 2006, titled “Serial Monogamy: My Cookbook Crushes,” Ephron describes her relationship with the authors of these books: “as I cooked, I had imaginary conversation with them both [Claiborne fell out of favor early on]. Julia was nicer and more forgiving. … Field was sterner and more meticulous; he was almost fascistic. He was full of prejudice about things like the garlic press (he believed that using one made the garlic bitter), and I threw mine away for fear that he would suddenly materialize in my kitchen and disapprove” (73). Ephron later continued her serial cookbook monogamy with Martha Stewart, “whom I worshipped and had long, long imaginary talks with,” and more recently Nigella Lawson (75), with whom she also likely conversed, given her notice that they have similar styles in the kitchen and at table. Ephron responded to these cookbooks because they gave her narrative that evoked emotive and linguistic response, and these are cookbooks that draw attention to the genre of the literary cookbook.
Calling something literary, at its most basic, is to refer to writing of value, writing with emotive force. The literary cookbook genre includes cookbooks based on authors and/or their writing, such as The Bloomsbury Cookbook or Alice Eats: A Wonderland Cookbook. Widely configured, it can also include novels or memoirs laden with recipes, such as Like Water for Chocolate or Miriam’s Kitchen. And sometimes seemingly straightforward cookbooks turn out to be literary epics, like the work of Anthony Bourdain. Whatever its form, the literary cookbook centers on consumption, and the question of what (or sometimes who) is consumed makes these books as interesting (and delicious) as they are useful. It is, therefore, our aim with this edited collection to examine how consumption is represented, constructed, explained, or manipulated in the literary cookbook.
Contributors might focus on:
- cookbooks based on authors and/or their writing, such as the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook or The Game of Thrones Cookbook
- novels or memoirs laden with recipes, such as Like Water for Chocolate or Miriam’s Kitchen or Heartburn
- cookbooks that weave travel or historical or biographical narrative with the recipes, such as Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen
- cookbooks that follow Child and Fields in prefacing each recipe with a narrative, such as those by Anthony Bourdain or Yotam Ottolenghi
Deadline for Proposals (500 words) and Biography (250 words): 5 September 2019
Deadline for Chapters (6000 words): 5 January 2020
Roxanne Harde is Professor of English at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Faculty, where she also serves as Associate Dean, Research. A Fulbright Scholar, Roxanne researches and teaches American literature and culture, focusing on children’s literature, popular culture, women’s writing, and Indigenous literature. Her most recent book is The Embodied Child, coedited with Lydia Kokkola (Routledge, 2017). She has published articles in The Lion and the Unicorn, Mosaic, Critique, Jeunesse, and IRCL, and chapters in more than twenty collections of essays.
Janet Wesselius is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Faculty, where she specializes in epistemology and the philosophy of science. She has previously published on Pollyanna and pragmatism and Anne of Green Gables and the embodied reader. In addition to philosophy, she also teaches feminist theory.