Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Novel Idea For Food

Did you know food tastes more delicious when you create a backstory for it?

Introducing "Mrs. Arbuthnot's Repast."
(My snack this afternoon.)

(Ingredients: flax and fiber sandwich thins, good butter,
raspberry and key lime jam, sliced nectarines, almond slivers)

I'm calling it that after the character in Elizabeth Von Arnim's "The Enchanted April." Succulent fruit on thin bread with a bracing crunch of almond seems an appropriate nibble for an unhappy Englishwoman longing for a fresh new start in life.

Why stop there?

After looking through my computer files, I've taken a stab at renaming some of the meals I've eaten since starting this blog. Can you guess which novel they're inspired by?
(Answers are at the bottom.)

Old name: Cioppino
New name: "Dickie Greenleaf's Harbor Stew"

Old name: Tomato soup with grilled cheese soldiers
New name: "A Small Measure of Count Rostov's Liquidity"

Old name: Fig marzipan tart
New name: "Dick Diver's Taste of Midnight Galette"

Old name: Mussels in white wine sauce
New name: "Mr. Peggotty's Seaside Savory"

Old name: Roasted kombucha squash with parsley-vinaigrette salad and toasted pepitas

New name: "Friday's Foodstuffs For the Purpose of Quelling Famishment"

Old name: Meyer lemon pound cake
New name: "Mrs. Bennett's Lip-Pursing Pleasure For Headstrong Young Ladies"

Old name: Open-face sandwich with Marmite, butter, Jarlsberg cheese and cherry tomatoes
New name: "Causabon's Key to Health"

I know your brains are exploding with "novel food" pairings that are much more clever than mine. Unleash them in my comments section. :)

* * * * *


1. The Talented Mr. Ripley/ Patricia Highsmith
Dickie Greenleaf meets a fishy end in the waters of San Remo. Enough said.

2. Tender is the Night/F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dick Diver likes to stay up late and have a good time. Enough said.

3. War and Peace/Leo Tolstoy
Count Rostov was loaded with dependents but very little money.

4. David Copperfield/Charles Dickens
Mr. Peggotty is a fisherman and lives in a beached houseboat by the ocean.

5. Robinson Crusoe/Daniel Defoe
Friday was the shipwrecked Crusoe's trusty companion.

6. Pride and Prejudice/Jane Austen
A reference to Mrs. Bennett and her daughters, especially Elizabeth.

7. Middlemarch/George Eliot
Causabon was obsessed with writing a book called "The Key to all Mythologies."


Lily said...

i love this! not just charming but oh so spot on... the act of preparing and eating a meal are as complex as characters in a novel and it's even more wonderful when it's all together... A few favorites of the art of cooking: Elizabeth David, The Book of Mediterranean Food, with quotes from Lawrence Durrell, Norman Douglas, Gertrude Stein et al. Also Patience Gray's Honey From A Weed and the classic Edwardian Glamour Cooking Without Tears by Oswell Blakeston. A veritable feast!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Lily: I knew you wouldn't disappoint! Love those pairings.

Lucindaville said...

Doesn't this make eating into dining!

Love both of those David Tanis books from the last post. You can't go wrong. Check out our Tanis posts at Cookbook Of The Day:

Tricia Rose Rough Linen said...

Love them all except Causabon, who would dampen any appetite!

I just indulged myself with caramellised garlic on rustic toast: I think 'la consolation d'Ugolin' from Manon des Sources?

Traci Hendrix Hart said...

I don't know how I happened upon the habit but I've always referred to quartered, long, dippable bread/toast/sandwiches as soldiers. It has been too long ago to remember where it came from, but I don't think I know anyone else that does it. Now I do!
Such a happy naming game....pretty food is the most memorable, and tastes the best, doesn't it?

24 Corners said...

I was just thinking I needed a snack so I grabbed a bag of Saya Snow Pea Crisps, then sat down to see *your* lovely and healthy snack of necatarines and jam...the crisps just don't compare but I couldn't stop eating them none the less!
I just finished reading "Fannies Last Supper" by Chris Kimball and my foodie mind is stuck in the Victorian era at the I think I'll call this snack -
"Farmer's Mock Snow Pea Rissoles En Pappilot"! I feel better about eating them.
Your pairings and this post are brilliant Lisa...bon appetit!
xo J~

The Buzz Blog @ Diane James Home said...

With tummy a-rumbling while the spinach quiche is baking, I'm loving your post! Not that the kids will approve, but I think I'll serve them Dumpty's Un-Sunshine Toast for breakfast.(Old name: egg-in-a-hole, Lewis Carroll / Alice in Wonderland)

Sara C. said...

I'm such a disappontment: I only got no° 6....maybe cause i'm obsessed with Jane Austen
BTW: very smart idea! I really enjoyed reading this post
Have a nice day
Sara C.

Joanna said...

Love this combo of books and food. This inspires me to make some kind of tart or pie and name it after Count Fosco.

Michelle said...

Loved this post. A fun, creative way to mix food and literature, two of my favorite things. I recognized dear Mrs. Arbuthnot, the disappointed Madonna, from the start. In fact, I think I have mentioned Elizabeth Von Arnim in a previous post here on your blog. I love all things British (how do you think I happened across this blog?). Now, you've challenged me, given me a morning puzzle (and a couple of them were tough) and you've got me to thinking ... what shall I rename my breakfast and supper for tonight. And can you please tell me the name of that beautiful, blue Transferware? Also, I am looking into those delicious books Lily mentioned. I can add "Reckless Appetites: A Culinary Romance" by Jacqueline Devul about a girl named Pomme who gathers inspiration from great writers to fuel her own romance. Filled with anecdotes and recipes associated with famous writers, it's a book I remember enjoying years ago. Fun as always, Lisa!

Kathleen Mullaney said...

I like the way your mind works.............I think someone, somewhere should write a food/literature blog.......

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Am so into your Tanis posts! I met the venerable man himself a few weeks ago when some friends and I ate dinner at Chez Panisse in SF -- he came by our table to say hi. We were dumbstruck and tongue-tied! :)

Tricia Rose:
You have a point about Casaubon. Very funny. :)

Tricia Hart Hendrix:
Long live the soldiers!

24 Corners:
Love that title -- you are too chic. A friend recently gave me that book -- I'll move it a couple notches up on my book stack because of you. xx

Diane James:
So funny -- when I was a preteen, I used to make myself "Toad in a Hole" egg sandwiches just because I had read about it in some English novel. I thought I was being soooo sophisticated. My brothers and sisters would say, "It's just a fried egg on some toast" and I would think, That's how little YOU know."
You know I met Schuyler, right? And we sang your praises? xx

Sara C.:
You are NOT a disappointment!! I'm sure if you were to come up with your own little quiz, I would be at a loss, too. We all have the books we love and that shaped us -- there are way tooo many novels in the world (thank goodness!) for us all to have the same list. xx

Count Fosco is one of my FAVORITE characters ever. Rotund body, dressed all in brocade silks, those light little dancers feet that always seem to be sneaking up on someone -- what's not to love?!

Michelle: Ah yes, "the disappointed Madonna"! Love that book. And I read "Reckless Appetites" years ago too and loved it -- forgot that until you brought it up. :)

The transferware is everyday basic stuff (dishwasher, microwave, etc) called "Johnson Brothers Old Britain."
There's a link here for a 20-piece set at

It's cheep and cheerful and always makes me happy.

Kathi Mullaney:
Perhaps you? :)

Hels said...

Fig marzipan tart might be very familiar to you, but it looks new and sublime to me. Dick Diver's Taste of Midnight Galette is even cuter :) and apter (sic).

The Buzz Blog @ Diane James Home said...

Thanks for your re-comment and I know that you and Schuyler had met when she was doing the Bloomsbury-inspired vignette (your pillow in the room is gorgeous!). Although we've worked with Schuyler for many years (starting when she was working with Michael Smith), we've not yet met personally. I would love to jet over to LA sometime soon and get us all together! XO Cynthia

Michelle said...

Thank you for letting us know the name of your transferware. It makes me happy too!

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Hi Lisa-

Everything looks so scrumptious and superbly presented. Seasonal and definitely LOCAL.

The tomato sandwich was the quirkiest and best--Marmite and butter is the strangest and most alluring combination. Marmite is basically salt, sodium, and then with a good sweet is truly UMAMI and very satisfying. With cheese and little juicy tomatoes. Heaven. Nursery food of highest order. And so original.
cheers, DIANE

Heather Taylor said...

this is very clever - and all looks intensely beautiful and delish!

Karena said...

Lisa what a luscious idea this pairing, and anything to make food into an EXPERIENCE is wonderful!

Art by Karena

Leslie Christen | Fashion Stylist said...

WOW, Beautiful shots!

This is my first time to your site and I think its fabulous.

XO Leslie

I'm trying to build up my network, so if you'd be so kind, I'd love you to follow me.

Jojo P. said...

Middlemarch, the story had a simple, rambling plot, put together to support the cast of characters Eliot lovingly sculpted.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin