Literary Descriptions of Food
February 2, 2023 4:55 PM   Subscribe

What are the great literary descriptions of food and drink?

I'm looking for sumptuous, mouth-watering descriptions of food in fiction or poetry. Bonus points if it's from something in the public domain.
posted by Prunesquallor to Writing & Language (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I remember Brian Jacques' Redwall series had great descriptions of food, although it was food for woodland creatures, not humans. But it all sounded delicious! I can't find any paragraph-sized quotes, but there is the Redwall Wiki.
posted by tybstar at 5:04 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]

"Sumptuous" and "mouth-watering" are not the first words that come to mind ("eye-watering" perhaps..) but the candy scene in Gravity's Rainbow is vivid, comic, and memorable.
posted by Nerd of the North at 5:05 PM on February 2

Il gattopardo
posted by mumimor at 5:33 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

I don’t know if it’s mouth-watering, but the first chapter of John McPhee’s Oranges is head-spinning.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:03 PM on February 2

The start of the 'Calypso' chapter in Ulysses, and the 'Chowder' chapter in Moby Dick.
posted by kickingtheground at 6:28 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

Also came in to suggest Redwall. There's even a cookbook inspired by it.
posted by Aleyn at 7:06 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Proust’s Madeleines.
Also every food mentioned in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series.
posted by donut_princess at 7:19 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

Here's a lavish feast from vinatge scifi/fantasy author Jack Vance, who often had interesting descriptions of food in his many books.
posted by ovvl at 7:21 PM on February 2

This post from the blue is closely related to your question!

My contribution
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:48 PM on February 2

Babette’s Feast, though IIRC, the most vivid descriptions are of the wines.

Like Water for Chocolate

(Sorry to point you toward whole books instead of passages, but both are wrapped around great food writing).
posted by Mchelly at 8:22 PM on February 2

The meals aboard British naval ships in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin books. Delightfully, there's a cookbook called Lobscouse and Spotted Dog: Which It’s a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels.
posted by hovey at 8:24 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]

Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 8:55 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]

The wedding feast in Madame Bovary - Part 1, Chapter 4.
posted by tmharris65 at 2:23 AM on February 3

I'm reading A Gentleman in Moscow and there is a scene featuring Latvian stew described so deliciously that I wanted to eat it. I googled it and found a recipe by the author himself! There are several other great depictions of food and drinks throughout the book, about a gentleman under house arrest at a hotel with a fancy restaurant.
posted by emd3737 at 4:36 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

The descriptions of cooking trout over a campfire in Hemingway's Nick Adams stories are pretty moutwatering.
posted by Miko at 6:40 AM on February 3

Crying in H Mart has great descriptions of cooking and eating Korean food. (It's also a fantastic memoir.)
posted by thatone at 10:01 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

One of my favourite meals in literature is the one Nikolai and Natasha have with "Uncle" in a woodland cabin in War and Peace. The whole chapter is such a joyful description of eating and being together with others in beautiful surroundings.

"On the tray was a bottle of herb wine, different kinds of vodka, pickled mushrooms, rye cakes made with buttermilk, honey in the comb, still mead and sparkling mead, apples, nuts (raw and roasted), and nut-and-honey sweets. Afterwards she brought a freshly roasted chicken, ham, preserves made with honey, and preserves made with sugar."
posted by Lluvia at 11:08 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

I would have sworn a similar question was asked recently, but try as I might I can't find it. I distinctly remember linking this Hairpin article containing descriptions of every meal Almanzo eats in Farmer Boy. It's going to drive me crazy trying to figure out where that discussion was if wasn't on MeFi.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:13 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]

« Older Microsoft on New Mac   |   Indestructable cat feeder for very large, strong... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments