10 Great Foodie Moments in Literature and What We Learned From Them
Marcel Proust’s seven-volume opus In Search Of Lost Time is more than 4,000 pages long, but people only talk about the “episode of the madeleine cookie.” This is not insignificant. Food is not only delicious, it's important, and so are the stories we tell about it. Grab a snack and devour these truly important food moments in literature.
'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' by Roald Dahl
TREAT YO SELF.
"He turned and reached behind him for the chocolate bar, then he turned back again and handed it to Charlie. Charlie grabbed it and quickly tore off the wrapper and took an enormous bite. Then he took another…and another…and oh, the joy of being able to cram large pieces of something sweet and solid into one's mouth! The sheer blissful joy of being able to fill one's mouth with rich solid food!
'You look like you wanted that one, sonny,' the shopkeeper said pleasantly.
Charlie nodded, his mouth bulging with chocolate.”
'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë
Sometimes being fed is a lot like being hugged.
“‘I meant to give each of you some of this [seed cake] to take with you,’ said she, ‘but as there is so little toast, you must have it now,’ and she proceeded to cut slices with a generous hand.
We feasted that evening as on nectar and ambrosia; and not the least delight of the entertainment was the smile of gratification with which our hostess regarded us, as we satisfied our famished appetites on the delicate fare she liberally supplied."
'Swann’s Way' by Marcel Proust
Few things are more transcendental than a cookie.
“No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs [of the madeleine] touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?”
'Still Life with Oysters and Lemon' by Mark Doty
Food gets you.
“Lemons: all freedom, all ego, all vanity, fragrant with scene we can’t help but imagine when we look at them, the little pucker in the mouth. And redolent, too, of strut and style. Yet somehow they remain intimate, every single one of them: only lemons, only that love, perishable, ordinary thing, held to scrutiny’s light, fixed in a moment of fierce attention. As if here our desire to be unique, unmistakable, and our desire to be of a piece were reconciled. Isn't that it, to be yourself and somehow, to belong? For a moment, held in balance.”
'The Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame
Food takes you places. (Even if you’re a toad.)
“When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in it in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”
“Ode to the Orange” by Pablo Neruda
Food teaches you how to be good.
and every day,
and may mankind's heart,
and its clusters of fruit,
be both bitter and sweet:
irrepressible source of freshness,
may it hold and protect
and the perfect oneness
of an orange."
'The Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison
Food is home.
“He took the dime. ‘If that ain’t a sweet one, I’ll give you another [sweet potato] free of charge.’ I knew that it would be sweet before I broke it; bubbles of brown syrup had burst the skin.
‘Go ahead and break it,’ the old man said. ‘Break it and I’ll give you some butter since you gon’ eat it right here. Lots of folks takes ‘em home. They got their own butter at home.’
I broke it, seeing the sugary pulp steaming in the cold… I took a bite, finding it as sweet and hot as any I’d ever had, and was overcome with such a surge of homesickness that I turned away to keep my control.”
'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott
Food is shelter.
“Meg found her sister eating apples and crying over the Heir of Redclyffe, wrapped up in a comforter on an old three-legged sofa by the sunny window. This was Jo's favorite refuge, and here she loved to retire with half a dozen russets and a nice book, to enjoy the quiet and the society of a pet rat who lived near by and didn't mind her a particle.”
'The Joy Luck Club' by Amy Tan
Food is love.
“I was not too fond of crab, ever since I saw my birthday crab boiled alive, but I knew I could not refuse. That’s the way Chinese mothers show they love their children, not through hugs and kisses but with stern offerings of steamed dumplings, duck’s gizzards, and crab.”
'Chocolat' by Joann Harris
Food is an important part of happiness and goodness.
“I believe that being happy is the only important thing. Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.”