Great authors can write food scenes that make you want to eat the page. It’s a tease that often sticks with you. Even after finishing a great book, you’re left with memories of that sweet, savory food fantasy, forever on a quest to find its real-life counterpart. If you love staring longingly at gorgeous delights, these 12 delicious quotes will bring you to paradise.
1. The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg:
... then came the food. Platter after platter of sizzling, decadent, rich, sodium-sugar-drenched food. Steaming, plush pork buns, and bright green broccoli in thick lobster sauce, sticky brown noodles paired with sweet shrimp and glazed chicken, briny, chewy clams swimming in a subtle black-bean gravy. Cilantro-infused scallion pancakes. A dozen dumplings stuffed with a curiously, addictively spicy seafood …. She ate everything on every plate, each bite accompanied with a thick forkful of white rice.
2. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison:
... I saw an old man warming his hands against the sides of an odd-looking wagon, from which a stovepipe reeled off a thin spiral of smoke that drifted the odor of baking yams slowly to me, bringing a stab of swift nostalgia. I stopped as though struck by a shot, deeply inhaling, remembering, my mind surging back, back. At home we'd bake them in the hot coals of the fireplace, had carried them cold to school for lunch, munched them secretly, squeezing the sweet pulp from the soft peel as we hid from the teacher behind the largest book, the World's Geography. Yes, and we'd loved them candied, or baked in a cobbler, deep-fat fried in a pocket of dough, or roasted with pork and glazed with the well-browned fat; had chewed them raw — yams and years ago. More yams than years ago though the time seemed endlessly expanded, stretched thin as the spiraling smoke beyond all recall. … The yams, some bubbling with syrup, lay on a wire rack above glowing coals that leaped to low blue flame when struck by the draft of air. The flash of warmth set my face aglow as he removed one of the yams and shut the door. … I broke it, seeing the sugary pulp steaming in the cold. "Hold it over here," he said. He took a crock from a rack on the side of the wagon. "Right here."
I held it, watching him pour a spoonful of melted butter over the yam and the butter seeping in.
Christos carries me in his arms to the futon and carefully lays me down. He lies down next to me and hugs me. We fuse.
We wake up at dusk.
I ask him, “Do you have plans?”
We don’t got out for two days.
We place fruit on our bodies, we feed ourselves with it, we lick up the sweet juice, make love and fall into a deep sleep.
4. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen:
She convection-roasted country ribs to brownness and cut them thin, along the grain, for presentation, reduced and darkened the kraut gravy to bring out its nutty, earthy, cabbagy, porky flavor, and arted up the plate with twin testicular new potatoes, a cluster of Brussels sprouts, and a spoon of stewed white beans that she lightly spiked with roasted garlic. She invented luxurious new white sausages. She matched a fennel relish, roasted potatoes, and good bitter wholesome rapini with fabulous pork chops that she bought direct from a sixties holdover organic farmer who did his own butchering and made his own deliveries.
5. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf:
…an exquisite scent of olives and oil and juice rose from the great brown dish as Marthe, with a little flourish, took the cover off. The cook had spent three days over that dish. And she must take great care, Mrs. Ramsay thought, diving into the soft mass, to choose a specially tender piece for William Bankes. And she peered into the dish, with its shiny walls and its confusion of savoury brown and yellow meats and its bay leaves and its wine …. “It is a triumph,” said Mr. Bankes, laying his knife down for a moment. He had eaten attentively. It was rich; it was tender. It was perfectly cooked.
6. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath:
I saw avocado pear after avocado pear being stuffed with crabmeat and mayonnaise and photographed under brilliant lights. I saw the delicate, pink-mottled claw meat poking seductively through its blanket of mayonnaise and the bland yellow pear cup with its rim of alligator-green cradling the whole mess.
7. Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem:
Zeod never made sandwiches himself. But he’d taught his countermen well, to slice extraordinarily thin and drape the meat as it slid off the blade so it fell in bunches, rather than stacking airlessly, to make a sandwich with that fluffy compressibility I craved. I let myself be hypnotized by the whine of the slicer, the rhythm of the kid’s arm as he received the slices and dripped them onto the kaiser roll. Zeod watched me. He knew I obsessed on his sandwiches, and it pleased him.
8. “Oysters” by Seamus Heaney:
Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.
9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:
At least once a fortnight a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas and enough colored lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden. On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold. In the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from the other.
10. The Ask by Sam Lipsyte:
Vargina swiveled to face me, scooped egg salad from a plastic dish. The egg salad had a slightly redder tinge than the batch in the deli case across the street.
“What? No I’m fine.”
“You were staring at it.”
“Is that paprika?”
“Have a bite.”
Vargina held out a spoonful and I leaned forward, let the egg salad slide into my mouth, sucked down the creamy aftercoat of mayonnaise, with its spiced, nearly deviled, kick.
11. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri:
From the kitchen my mother brought forth the succession of dishes: lentils with fried onions, green beans with coconut, fish cooked with raisins in a yogurt sauce. I followed with the water glasses, and the plate of lemon wedges, and the chili peppers, purchased on monthly trips to Chinatown and stored by the pound in the freezer, which they liked to snap open and crush into their food.
12. “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams:
I have eaten
that were in
… Forgive me
they were delicious
and so cold
Before you start stealing your coworker’s lunches, remember that your love for food does not have to go unrequited! You can always toss that PB&J out the window and buddy up with someone — a partner in crime! — to enjoy the spring weather and some great grub. Lord knows you deserve it. The foodporn will still be there when you get back, glistening, steaming, waiting for you.
Freddie Moore is a Brooklyn-based writer. Her full name is Winifred, and her writing has appeared in The Paris Review Daily and The Huffington Post. As a former cheesemonger, she’s a big-time foodie who knows her cheese. Follow her on Twitter: @moorefreddie
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