BookPage Nonfiction Top Pick, August 2015
C.S. Lewis wrote that “eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably,” and Cara Nicoletti has made both her life pursuits. As she explains in Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books, her childhood playground was her grandfather’s butcher shop, where she played hide and seek among the beef carcasses, occasionally stunning her friends by pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder’s father with a dead pig slung over her shoulder. More often though, she read on a milk crate behind the cash register.
Fast-forward to the present, and Nicoletti has parlayed her passions into a literary food blog called Yummy Books, as well as this collection of 50 essays about beloved books of her childhood, adolescence and adulthood, each with a relevant recipe. Most of the dishes sound delectable (Anne of Green Gables Salted Chocolate Caramels, Moby Dick clam chowder) while others require courage (Lord of the Flies porchetta di testa, or pig’s head, and a more palatable Crostini with Fava Bean and Chicken Liver Mousse from The Silence of the Lambs).
Nicoletti knows her stuff (serve that pig’s head over a bed of lentils, potatoes or stewed greens, she recommends), having worked as both a pastry chef and butcher. Her blog blossomed from her literary supper club, and Voracious is likely to affect your own reading, making fictional meals suddenly jump into prominence. She explains: “The experience of loving something—particularly a book or a book’s illustration—so much that you actually want to eat it is a sentiment near and dear to my heart. It is essentially what I’m trying to express in this book.”
Throughout Nicoletti’s life, books have remained her emotional stronghold as well as a reliable source of escape, since she’s read everything from Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking to In Cold Blood and Gone Girl. Like a wonderful appetizer, Nicoletti’s entries are easy to digest and full of pleasing surprises.