Meditations

Tasty Read for Food-Lit Lovers



writers and artists do food

Crave It offers a tasty range of literary treats

Crave It: Writers and Artists Do Food
Edited by Kim Aubrey, Elaine Batcher, K.D. Miller and Ruth Parker
Red Claw Press, $20, 142 pp

Food lovers, and lovers of writing about food, will be eager to sample the literary flavours represented in a new Canadian collection of literary works called Crave It: Writers and Artists Do Food.

This book represents a different kind of food worship, one that speaks of literary devices more than kitchen gadgets. In this collection, you’ll find pieces of short creative nonfiction alongside a range of poems and mouthwatering artworks. Some point directly to a particular type of food—from black currants to roti to marmalade to King Cake—while others offer reflections on cooking, particular cultures, or particularly challenging recipes. And some, like Sue William Silverman’s poem “Cupcake Days,” have just the briefest hint of food in them, but are evocative nevertheless.

Of the poems, notable are “Cake,” by Barry Dempster, which hints at the shared relationships distinguished by different desserts, and “Momma Does Milk” by Sterling Haynes, which speaks to the tiredness of a nursing mother as much as it does to the idea of milk as food. And “The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today” by John Barton is as much food memoir-in-poetry as it is an evocation of an era of familial uncertainty.

The short pieces of creative nonfiction offer more room to explore and explain. Esmeralda Cabral takes us into the world of Portuguese women cooking tiny fish as snacks, Anne Lukin reveals the art of the short-order breakfast cook, and Frank Russo talks about being a kid witnessing the killing, and preparation, of a pig in his Uncle Paolo’s garage. All are honest, clearly told and emotionally loaded stories that reveal something about their narrators as much as about the food they address.
And the photographs! Portraits of bread, corn dogs, mushrooms…it’s enough to make you drop the book and head to the kitchen, or snack while reading and risk crumbs between the pages.

A collection like this is not a new idea—Alimentum Magazine is devoted to literature about food, for example, so it stands to reason that an anthology of literary writing that includes food, rather than a collection of writing primarily about food, would be a popular read. And it’s a successful collection, like a buffet that even while sating your appetite, makes you want to go back for more.

This is the first book for Toronto-based Red Claw Press, and copies can be ordered directly from the publisher. If they carry on with additional volumes along this same vein, we can look forward to more such tantalizing potlucks, and get ready to eat (or read) our fill.

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