post off: which non-cookbook made you hungry?



A post at Jezebel on Scott O’Dell’s award-winning young adult book Island of the Blue Dolphins brought back a childhood memory of my own: the book’s loving description of how Karana cooks abalone made me insatiable for a dish I’d never even heard of. (At least one commenter at Jezebel has the same memory.) I love when a book is so well written that it can elicit that response. So what non-cookbook caught your fancy in a similar way? An Anne Rice book? Stephen King? (Just kidding.) Do tell! — Mary T.

P.S. If your interest in abalone is now piqued, check out this abalone recipe at

From our partners

I have to say I grew up in California and we had to read this book during our California history segment, or maybe it was the native americans of the cost segment. We had a native american feast after reading this book, one of the parents brought in Abalone, it was awesome!! Havent had it since, so thanks for the recipe…now where to find the abalone??


“A House for Mr Biswas” by V S Naipaul made me crave milk and fig rolls – Mr Biswas feeds his son milk and prunes to make him smarter for school exams.


I know it’s totally uncool, but Under the Tuscan Sun made me ravenous. For pasta and home-grown tomatoes!


I was a big Laura Ingall’s Wilder reader as a kid, but my husband only read one of her books — Farmer Boy– and the only thing he remembers about it are the long, detailed descriptions of their breakfasts. It makes us both hungry thinking about it.

Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s about her husband’s childhood in upstate NY, and *MAN* do they eat. Flapjacks dripping with butter and syrup, ham, biscuits, pie, cheese… Popcorn in a glass of milk by the fire. Fried Apples ‘n Onions. (I actually recreated that one and blogged it a year or two ago!)

I’m such a food person, though, that many of my favorite books are strongly linked with the food in them, for me. Petit fours and ice cream sundaes in “The Saturdays,” “beavers” (“Both doctors had lovely ideas about the sort of things to have in the middle of lessons…”) in “Ballet Shoes,” the feast by the river at the end of “Prince Caspian,” where even the dirt being eaten by the Dryads sounded delicious…

(Heh, I just updated the comments and Farmer Boy already got named once–I am fairly certain anyone who ever read it still drools over those meals.)


My first two thoughts have already been touched on, at least in terms of book series! I really wanted to find out if Turkish Delight was really THAT good after reading “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” And I believe it was “Little House in the Big Woods” where they made maple candy in the snow? I tried to do that….with regular old syrup. (I assure you, that does not work!) Oh, and “Anne of Green Gables” made me drool for some raspberry cordial.

Mary T

Good question, Katy — the site I linked to was in Australia. I never really thought about how to get it locally. Wonder if you can get it in Seattle? Another second on the LIttle House books. And Cherlyn, no shame in that at all! I’m reading an Anne Rice book currently, but not much eating (unless you count blood).


I must’ve been a foodie all my life, because I remember being in kindergarten and reading “Bread and Jam for Frances” and wishing for a lunch that yummy!

Liz! Yes! It was her friend Albert’s lunches: hard boiled egg with a little tiny cardboard salt shaker, and a checkered cloth! And then Frances starts competing with him and bring vanilla pudding with sprinkles, and a doily, and…agh! Wonders.


John Bellairs’ The House With a Clock in its Walls always makes me want to eat chocolate chip cookies. Actually, in most of his books there’s usually mention of some kind of baked good. Mmm!


Tim Winton’s “Dirt Music.” His writing is beautiful and completely sensory, whether he’s describing a fresh-picked melon (“she thought she could still feel the sun still in it”) or fresh-caught seafood. YUMMM to either!

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
A childhood favorite and still absolutely makes me CRAVE chocolate.

A Year in Provence also is pretty appetizing!

One more from childhood………
The Pokey Little Puppy.
He was always late for wonderful desserts like strawberry shortcake and chocolate pudding. Maybe that’s why I hate to be late!!!


Remember in “Heidi” how Grandfather would toast slices of cheese on thick pieces of farm bread? I’ve craved cheese ever since!

I think, for me is…Harry Potter..all of them, cause she describes all the weird food and the butterbeer, i would love to try it…and all those sweets!!!! and talking cards!!! :S LOL


Abalone is one of those over-harvested tales of woe… the good news is that it is successfully being farmed worldwide. Check it out–

Ditto on the Little House Books… Also Amy’s pickled limes from Little Women…. I was sort of repulsed/fascinated by them–what about them was worth getting into that much trouble for!

Oh, and, um, I just finished a Stephen King novel, about a little girl lost in the woods, and boy a smashed up half of a tuna sandwich never sounded so good…..

Funny that you would mention this book, that’s exactly the feeling I had when reading it as a pre-teen. That was my first introduction to abalone and I still have a memory trigger that makes me think of the book when I hear about abalone.

Her house and the sticks around it is the other part I remember.

For me it is FARMER BOY by Laura Ingalls Wilder. All that delicious food they make…the cider, the donuts…oh, man. It’s too much.


Like Water for Chocolate

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[…] Your love for food and literature started young. We asked which non-cookbook made you hungry, and boy did you respond! Books you read in your youth (such as the book that inspired the […]


Did anyone ever read The Boxcar Children books? They always made me hungry… just like any good survival story might. Hatchet had great food descriptions too, even if it was only of pigeons (or some kind of tiny bird).

Anne (in Reno)

Did anyone read the Redwall books by Brian Jacques? They were about a little animal society and they always had these amazing feasts with fantastic cooking scenes and the descriptions of everything made my mouth water.

I am glad that you liked my post on abalone :)


I have to say the the Harriet the Spy books. I fell in love with tomato sandwiches which was Harriet’s food of choice. It took a long time to find and devour the perfect one but one day in the country, I had one made with homemade bread and a juicy beefsteak tomato off the vine, a touch of mayo and fresh black pepper and it was absolute heaven!!