Novels that contain recipes?
June 11, 2016 2:07 AM   Subscribe

What are some novels you've enjoyed that have contained recipes? Either as part of the narrative, in between chapters, or as an addendum.

For example:
- "Like Water for Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel has a recipe with each chapter
- The Corinna Chapman books by Kerry Greenwood have a few recipes at the end of each book
- "A Trifle Dead" and "Drowned Vanilla" by Livia Day feature a few recipes for trifle and ice-cream respectively.

My last two examples are "cozy mysteries", and I imagine that many novels featuring recipes fall within that genre. I'm particularly interested in any that don't feature amateur detectives who own bakeries (although recommendations for those would be great as well).
posted by fever-trees to Writing & Language (45 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe has a whole section of recipes at the end, all dishes served at the cafe. Although perhaps not the barbecue recipe.
posted by mochapickle at 2:21 AM on June 11, 2016 [9 favorites]

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris has a lot about food and cooking in it, although I think the recipes are more in the style of descriptions of how to make the food as part of the narrative, rather than laid out like traditional recipes within the text.
posted by terretu at 2:26 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Bentobox in the Heartland
posted by Juliet Banana at 2:30 AM on June 11, 2016

Molly Wizenburg (blogs at Orangette and writes for magazines too).
posted by jrobin276 at 2:38 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you are open to plays- Macbeth.
posted by jojobobo at 3:32 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Debt to Pleasure.
posted by verstegan at 3:39 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura, Esquival, and Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara, Kingslover
posted by WalkerWestridge at 4:12 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I came in to say The Debt to Pleasure, which is sort of wickedly fun. It's actually sort of a take on one of Simenon's slighter roman dur, but is no less good for that.
posted by OmieWise at 4:14 AM on June 11, 2016

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal has recipes.
posted by amarynth at 4:18 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Manuel Sánchez Montalbán describes a detailed recipe in each of his Pepe Carvalho Mysteries.
posted by kandinski at 4:23 AM on June 11, 2016

Diane Mott Davidson books fit the bill.
posted by _Mona_ at 4:34 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Paullina Simons' Bronze Horseman trilogy sparked a recipe book: Tatiana's Table, which includes additional detail about how each recipe fits into the narrative. I found it quite charming.
posted by Cheese Monster at 4:43 AM on June 11, 2016

Georges Perec's masterful "Life: A User's Manual" contains a recipe (along with seemingly everything else in the world). It's for a dish that the character who's made it calls, among other things, "Crab Salad a la Dinteville".
posted by informavore at 4:45 AM on June 11, 2016

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado. If memory serves, Dona Flor teaches Bahian cookery. It's a wonderful book.
posted by Jode at 4:47 AM on June 11, 2016

Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 4:49 AM on June 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's autobiographical, but The Cuckoo's Egg contains a recipe for chocolate chip cookies in a footnote:
Two eggs, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup regular sugar, 2 sticks softened butter. Fold in 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and a couple tablespoons of vanilla. For an extra chocolate jag, toss in 3 tablespoons of cocoa. Oh, don't forget 2 cups of chocolate chips. Bake 'em at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 4:54 AM on June 11, 2016

Most of Ruth reichels books
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:07 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Heartburn by Nora Ephron. The main character is a food writer and the book includes several recipes at key points. (I have the audiobook version, read by Meryl Streep, and she has a way of saying the word "butter" that makes a mashed potato recipe seem deeply memorable. I recommend it.)
posted by Aravis76 at 5:15 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Katherine Hall Page's cozy mystery series books all contain wonderful recipes--the main character (Faith Fairchild) isn't a baker, but she is a caterer. I've actually made several of her recipes and all have been delicious!
Also seconding Kitchens Of The Great Midwest--great book, great recipes!
posted by bookmammal at 5:15 AM on June 11, 2016

It Can't Always Be Caviar

There was an Isabel Allende novel with recipes, and I remember making one and failing miserably. But I don't remember which novel.
posted by mumimor at 5:34 AM on June 11, 2016

Laurie Colwin was a novelist and food writer in the late '70s/early '80s whose fiction often centered around food and featured recipes. It's been years since I've read them, but I remember her books as being light, sweet (without being treacly) and warm.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:51 AM on June 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

Previously, where I mention Robert Parker's Spenser novels.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:58 AM on June 11, 2016

Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson, although as you might expect from the title, the recipes sound rather horrifying. The protagonist is unreliable both as a narrator and as a cook. It's pretty funny.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 6:26 AM on June 11, 2016

Cooking for Mr Latte by Amanda Hesser is autobiographical but light and cute, and full of recipes.
posted by bunderful at 6:30 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not exactly a novel but Lucy Knisley's graphic novel about growing up in a foodie household is called Relish and is very delightful. Has recipes.
posted by jessamyn at 6:49 AM on June 11, 2016 [6 favorites]

Red Sparrow by former CIA officer Jason Matthews has as its conceit a recipe somehow featured in every single chapter (and then printed at the chapter's end). It was kind of gimmicky for my taste but it was an okay mystery/thriller in spite of this.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:59 AM on June 11, 2016

If you're open to reading manga, there's What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga. It's a slice-of-life series depicting a gay couple, one half of whom is really into cooking and the other half really enjoys eating said cooking. Each episode includes the recipes for the meal that was planned and consumed in that episode. Review from Just Hungry, a blog on Japanese food and cooking.
posted by needled at 7:03 AM on June 11, 2016

Ruth Reichl's memoirs Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me With Apples.
posted by radioamy at 7:57 AM on June 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

I didn't like Pomegranate Soup as fiction but the recipes are really pretty good.
posted by BibiRose at 8:35 AM on June 11, 2016

One of my favorite books: House of Day, House of Night by the extraordinary Olga Tokarczuk!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:04 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I remember "The Guns of the South", by Harry Turtledove, containing directions for ad-hoc food that Confederate soldiers would make in the field.
posted by Hatashran at 9:06 AM on June 11, 2016

+1 to Nora Ephron's Heartburn. The recipes are easy and interesting (I'm going to make that peach pie this summer - this time for sure!) and the novel is so great. It's surprising, after being introduced to her via the treacly Meg Ryan movies she wrote, to find that the book is full of really interesting and acerbic observations as well as having that gut-punch of it being a true story.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:07 AM on June 11, 2016

I loved Fried Green Tomatoes and could hardly bear to have the story end. When I sadly turned the last page and found!!!! it was like a gift from the characters. So perfect.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:36 AM on June 11, 2016

Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo

Also, the Cozy Mystery List Blog has a list for you.
posted by gudrun at 11:24 AM on June 11, 2016

The Birth House by Ami McKay has recipes at the end.
posted by Prunesquallor at 11:24 AM on June 11, 2016

Not actual recipes, but descriptions of the food and its preparation aboard a pirate ship with limited resources: Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown. A fun read, but I thought a lot of the dishes sounded pretty terrible.
posted by Quietgal at 3:18 PM on June 11, 2016

This might be a little bit of a tangent, but I remember the Redwall series of books by Brian Jacques all had very vivid descriptions of food and feasts. I don't remember any actual recipes per se, but it's the first thing I thought of when I read this question.
posted by tybstar at 3:45 PM on June 11, 2016

The Cure for Death by Lightning features a woman's scrapbook/recipe book as a narrative piece.
posted by third word on a random page at 6:10 PM on June 11, 2016

The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love had recipes that related to various parts of the stories.
posted by maxg94 at 8:10 PM on June 11, 2016

The iconic (and late) actor Vincent Schiavelli, known for character work and best known as the "subway ghost" in "Ghost," retired from acting and moved to his grandparents' hometown in Sicily, where he wrote Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa which includes a number of recipes of that specific locale. It's memoir/biography, though, not a novel.

A former coworker of mine, Pam Stucky, has a few self-published epistolary novels in a trilogy starting with Letters from Wishing Rock which includes recipes whenever a character makes something. I've also had Pam's cooking, including some of the recipes that found their way into the book-- thumbs up. There's also an ebook collection of just the recipes. Wishing Rock is a fictional town based on Whittier, Alaska-- the entire town lives, works, and plays in a single building.

Not quite what you're looking for, but there's a companion cookbook to the nautical adventure series by Patrick O'Brian known as the "Aubrey-Maturin" series, 21(?) volumes. I think the cookbook, Lobscouse and Spotted Dog, includes a recipe for everything, literally everything that the characters eat in the series, at least as far as was released when they published (IIRC around book 15-16), including stuff they didn't want to eat, such as Seagull Shit boiled in rainwater (in a survival situation), and "Millers in Onion Sauce" (that was a polite term from the novel for the rats that the crew had to resort to eating). Others are impractical beyond modern reason, like "portable soup," which was a shelf-stable gelatinized beef concentrate, the sort of thing for which one now has bouillon. I tried the Lobscouse and enjoyed it immensely as a hearty meal. Yes, there's a hardtack recipe. Also some interesting reading about standing pie crusts, because there were pies before there were pie pans.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:07 PM on June 11, 2016

Cozy mystery series: Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles books, which feature a Texas lawyer-turned-herbalist, have recipes.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:47 PM on June 11, 2016

Have you read Kerry Greenwood's other series, the Phryne Fisher novels? Many of the books have recipes at the end, and Phryne is definitely not a baker. She pays people to do boring things like baking so she can spend more time drinking cocktails and pursuing high-adrenaline hobbies.

Also, the YA novel Everything On A Waffle has recipes for all kinds of things. And at the end, of course, a recipe for the waffles.

Shadow Unit isn't quite a novel and doesn't quite have recipes in the primary narrative, but if you look through the characters' LiveJournals (especially Chaz's) there are recipes for many delicious things, some of which have cameos in the primary narrative.
posted by sibilatorix at 10:05 AM on June 12, 2016

Lots of food memoirs, like Julie and Julia or Maman's Homesick Kitchen have recipes in them (including those two examples), but I'm not sure if you are strictly looking for fiction.
posted by nuclear_soup at 7:13 PM on June 12, 2016

Thank you so much everyone for such a wide variety of interesting answers - I've added a number of things to my to-read list.
posted by fever-trees at 7:44 PM on June 13, 2016

Oh, yes. Kaui Hart Hemmings (The Descendants) has a book coming out in August that's about a woman writing a cookbook and it has a lot of cooking and recipes in it.
posted by BibiRose at 6:36 AM on June 15, 2016

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