Food porn isn’t just for TV anymore—these days, novelists are getting in on the game. They’re aiming to make your mouth water and clog your arteries, all with nothing more than a few written words, and it’s working. Here are seven authors who can be counted on to throw you off your diet within a few chapters.
- George R.R. Martin, “Game of Thrones.” The guy known by embittered fans as “the fat bastard” certainly knows his food. Maybe he’s preparing to slaughter a fictional bridegroom at his own wedding feast, but Martin is always happy to slow down first and tell you what’s on the table: roast herons, sweetcorn fritters, swan poached in saffron and peaches, soup with mushrooms and buttered snails, and pigeon pie with lemon cream. At least the poor bridegroom died well fed. (Want the cook book? There’s an official version featuring a forward from Martin himself: “The Feast of Ice and Fire.”)
- Anthony Capella, “The Food of Love.” Food porn reaches its apex with this sumptuous Cyrano de Bergerac re-telling where a young Italian chef woos a pretty American tourist for his best buddy, winning her heart with spring lamb, artichoke slathered in mint and olive oil, hazelnut biscotti, and roast chicken stuffed with peppers stuffed with figs. Surprise surprise, the girl never goes home—and she falls for the chef. (No need for a cookbook; this one comes with recipes included!)
- Brian Jacques, the Redwall series. What is it about these fantasy authors? His rollicking frolicking mice and other woodland characters go to war a lot, but they always eat well first: fruitcake, iced cake, shortbread biscuits, almond wafers, fresh cream, sweet cream, honeyed cream, bell tower pudding, six-layer trifle, sweet-meadow custard with honey-glazed pears, wild-grape woodland pie with quince and hazelnut sauce . . . Picture a lot of very fat mice staggering off to battle, hiccupping. (And yep, there’s a companion “Redwall Cookbook.” Loads of 5-star reviews on Amazon.)
- Suzanne Collins, “The Hunger Games.” Sure, Katniss Everdeen has to fight to the death on the dystopian equivalent of reality TV. But she when she’s not starving to death or fighting for her life, she gets some great food from all those people who are eager to watch her die: creamy pumpkin soup, chicken in orange cream sauce, goat-cheese-and-apple tarts, and the famous lamb stew with dried plums and wild rice. (Try “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook.” The lamb stew recipe really is to die for; Katniss wasn’t exaggerating.)
- Robert B. Parker, the Spenser series. Parker’s tough-as-nails noir detective beats up thugs, flirts with dames, and shoots crime bosses, but he’s a whiz in the kitchen too. Breaded lamb cutlets in butter and wine sauce, fried green peppers, whipped cream biscuits, grilled buffalo steaks marinated in red wine, garlic, and rosemary. No wonder the guy is always taking time off gum-shoeing to go to the gym. (No cookbook, but there’s a website with recipes and menus that’s well worth checking out: http://www.mindspring.com/~boba4/Cookbook.html)
- Laura Ingalls Wilder, the “Little House of the Prairie” series. A lot of series here, I’m noticing. Foodie writers clearly like to torture their readers serially, and this prairie autobiographer is no exception. Her childhood memoirs are a sea of fried chicken, vanity cakes, maple candy, pork cracklings, buttermilk biscuits, blackbird pie, and stacks of flapjack pancakes. It’s a sure way to a swift and artery-clogging death for modern couch-potatoes rather than hard-working farm-girls, but what a way to go. (Try “The Little House Cookbook” if those vanity cakes from “Little House on Plum Creek” are preying on your mind the way they did on mine.)
- Kate Quinn, “The Serpent and the Pearl.” I couldn’t resist including myself on this list, because I’ve been reading the six authors above for years—and all that sumptuous fictional food finally got to me. I decided to write some food porn of my own, so I created a feisty Renaissance chef and plopped her down to cook for the poisonous Borgia family. Her best foodie moment? An aphrodisiac banquet with roast peacock swimming on a bed of rose petals, sauteed oysters on the half-shell, and grilled sea bass in a sauce of rosy wine, caviar, and truffles. A few bites in, all the dinner guests are slipping off to go smooch in the shadows.
Mouth watering yet?