In a most original leap of imagination, the author, who is also a photographer and artist, manages to imbue his text (“A Complete History of World Literature in 14 Recipes”) with the distinctive flavor of the writers, the peculiarities of language so uniquely mastered by literary favorites.
Carefully assembling each pastiche, Crick marries flavor and degree of difference with author, adding a pinch of tart or sweet as required for authenticity. A literary ventriloquist, the author has penned these recipes in the language of the masters of world literature, for example, Kafka’s “Quick Miso Soup.” Like Kafka, the soup is thin, but exotic; one pictures the author too busy to cook, or eat, his energies better spent on his work.
The recipes are diverse: Lamb with Dill Sauce a La Raymond Chandler; Tarragon Eggs a la Jane Austen; Tiramisu a la Marcel Proust; Cheese on Toast a la Harold Pinter; and Onion Tart a la Geoffrey Chaucer.
In preparation for her Tarragon Eggs, Jane Austen believes “That the arrival of a newcomer in the parish presented the perfect opportunity and Mrs. B¬¬¬¬-- wasted no time in sending out invitations to a luncheon.”
Proust’s Tiramisu is reflective, charged with meaning: “the memories of smell and taste, so faithful, resisted the destruction and rebuilt for a moment the palace wherein dwelt the remembrance of that evening and that tiramisu.”
In the person of Father Antonio del Sacrament de Altar Castaneda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez makes Coq au Vin for a condemned prisoner, Fidel Agosto Santiago: “Santiago would eat his last supper the following night, and since the condemned man refused to accept food from his wife, the priest had taken on the responsibility.”
Preparing his legendary Lamb with Dill Sauce, Chandler “sipped on my whiskey sour, ground out my cigarette on the chopping board… I needed a table at Maxim’s… what I had was a leg of lamb and no clues.”
Although a photographer by trade, Crick created the artwork for each recipe, equally precise in tone and detail, Harold Pinter’s Cheese on Toast in stark black and white relief, while Austen’s Tarragon Eggs features an elegant drawing of a fashionable lady and gentleman. Equally striking are the stark illustration of Steinbeck’s Mushroom Risotto and the simplicity of Homer’s Fenkata.
These fourteen recipes are more than just an exercise in creativity, rather a fanciful blending of literary imagination with taste, melding the intellect with the physical; this flavorful volume is a gem to be savored.