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Every so often, we take a break from flipping through cookbooks like they’re novels to pick up actual novels—about food, of course. Not surprisingly, it turns out that you all love it when food and eating play a main role in your fiction selections as well.
This week on the Hotline, Pili Gómez asked for recommendations for novels with foodies as main characters, noting that she’s already a fan of the Comisario Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri and the Detective Carvalho books by Vazquez Montalban. As usual, you all came through with great suggestions—dozens of them:
Uncle Jess says, “Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series takes place in Venice. Besides the occasional banquet or other food event, each book has at least one incredible lunch cooked by his loving wife. And Brunetti is always on the lookout for a good snack. Death in La Fenice is the first of the series, probably available in your library. There is even a cookbook with recipes for all the meals described in the detective stories. Mouthwatering!”
Lmkltk suggests the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout. Many others echoed this suggestion, and oldunc adds, "I've tried a number of foodie mysteries, none of which, other than Joan Hesse's Diet to Die For I would really recommend, but the Nero Wolfe books stand alone. Too Many Cooks, which I believe was the second of the series, is my personal favorite, although somewhat non-PC by current standards.”
Luvcookbooks shares a number of favorites: Heartburn by Nora Ephron, The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman, Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal, and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler.
Amysarah starts expanding the suggestions to include fiction in which eating and/or food plays a big role: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, The Flounder by Gunter Grass, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen.
Nancy has a quite a few suggestions, including novels by Patrick O’Brian and Jane Austen, among many others. Creamtea agreed on both accounts, adding, “For Jane Austen, the Annotated Pride and Prejudice edited by David M. Shapard provides info about how meals were served during that era (a multitude of dishes, all set out at once, different dishes at different sections of the table).”
Cookbookchick says, “I've enjoyed Diane Mott Davidson's series featuring Colorado caterer/sleuth Goldy Schulz, at least partly because she has a walk-in refrigerator in her home that fuels my kitchen fantasies! Ms. Davidson published an autobiography/cookbook in September that contains most of the recipes from her mystery novels. Because the story and characters develop, over time, I'd suggest starting with book one, Catering to Nobody.”
Burning-ice and pierino both recommend Martin Walker’s books about Bruno, Chief of Police. Maedl loves them too, saying, “His wife, Julia Watson, is a food writer, and her influence is very apparent in the Bruno books. It is a favorite series of mine.”
HalfPint says, “Any of the Corinna Chapman series by Kerry Greenwood. Corinna is a baker (an unapologetic full-figured woman who adores bread and cats) who runs a bakery below her flat…You’ll love all the characters.”
What are your favorite foodie novels? Tell us in the comments!