Books we’d give to… ‘British Bake-off’ Lovers

Books we’d give to… ‘British Bake-off’ Lovers

Well, it’s certainly all been happening at Bake-Off Towers this week. For those who might be feeling a little confused or in need cheering up, check out our nine literary delights on epicurean pleasure.








The Debt to Pleasure, by John Lanchester

Tarquin Winot – hedonist, food critic, ironist and snob – travels a circuitous route from the Hotel Splendide in Portsmouth to his cottage in Provence. Along the way he tells the story of his childhood and beyond through a series of delectable menus, organised by season. But this is no ordinary cookbook, and as we are drawn into Tarquin’s world, a far more sinister mission slowly reveals itself…Winner of the 1996 Whitbread First Novel Award, The Debt to Pleasure is a wickedly funny ode to food; an erotic and sensual culinary journey.

The Belly of Paris, by Emile Zola

Unjustly deported to Devil’s Island following Louis-Napoleon’s coup-d’état in December 1851, Florent Quenu escapes and returns to Paris. He finds the city changed beyond recognition. The old Marché des Innocents has been knocked down as part of Haussmann’s grand programme of urban reconstruction to make way for Les Halles, the spectacular new food markets. Disgusted by a bourgeois society whose devotion to food is inseparable from its devotion to the Government, Florent attempts an insurrection. Les Halles, apocalyptic and destructive, play an active role in Zola’s picture of a world in which food and the injustice of society are inextricably linked.

The Passionate Epicure, by Marcel Rouff

In the classic French novel The Passionate Epicure, Marcel Rouff introduces Dodin-Bouffant, a character based loosely on Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, an infamous bachelor and epicure dedicated to the high arts: the art of food and the art of love. There is a great introduction by Jeffrey Steingarten, the food critic for Vogue magazine and author of the bestselling book The Man Who Ate Everything who said of the novel: ‘Some of the finest and most enticing writing about food you’ll ever find.’

Babette’s Feast, by Isak Dinesen

Babette’s Feast is a sublime celebration of eating, drinking and sensual pleasure. In Isak Dinesen’s life-affirming short story, two elderly sisters living in a remote, god-fearing Norwegian community take in a mysterious refugee from Paris one night – and are rewarded for their kindness with the most decadent, luxurious feast of a lifetime.

The Epicure’s Lament, by Kate Christensen

Hugo Whittier is a wily misanthrope with a taste for whiskey, women, and his own cooking. Afflicted with a rare disease that will be fatal unless he quits smoking, Hugo retreats to his once aristocratic family’s dilapidated mansion, determined to smoke himself to death without forfeiting any of his pleasures. Yet the unexpected consequences of his schemes keep forcing him to reconsider, however fleetingly, the more wholesome ingredients of love, and life itself.

The Dinner, by Herman Koch

A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children, and as civility and friendship disintegrates, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Gourmet Rhapsody, by Muriel Barbery

In the heart of Paris, the greatest food critic in the world is dying. Revered by some and reviled by many, Monsieur Pierre Arthens has been lording it over the world’s most esteemed chefs for years. But now, during these his final hours, his mind has turned to simpler things. He is desperately searching for that singular flavour, that sublime something once sampled, never forgotten, the flavour par excellence. So begins a charming voyage that traces the career of Monsieur Arthens from childhood to maturity across a celebration of all manner of culinary delights. Muriel Barbery’s story celebrates life’s simple pleasures and sublime moments while condemning the arrogance and vulgarity of power.

High Bonnet, by Idwal Jones

The chef’s towering white toque, the high bonnet, is the mark of achievement to which every young sauce-stirrer aspires. Idwal Jones’s urbane novel follows the young provincial Jean as he attempts to master culinary art at the hands of Paris’s most distinguished chefs. Jean will win his high bonnet and the royal bearing that accompanies it – but not until he’s had many outrageous adventures, in the kitchen and out. High Bonnet is a sly send-up of the seething politics, subtle artistry, and enslavement to the palate that constitute life behind the kitchen’s swinging doors.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder, by Eli Brown

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by a beautiful yet ruthless pirate. He will be spared, Mad Hannah Mabbot tells him, as long as he can conjure an exquisite meal every Sunday from the ship’s meager supplies. While Wedgwood attempts to satisfy his captor with feats such as tea-smoked eel and pineapple-banana cider, he realises that Mabbot herself is under siege. An anarchic tale of love and appetite, Eli Brown’s Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a wildly original feat of the imagination, deep and startling as the sea itself.


We also have our own suggestions. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

War and Peace of Cake, by Leo Tolstoy

Gentlemen Prefer Scones, by Anita Loos

The Unbearable Lightness of Souffle, by Milan Kundera

Pie and Prejudice. by Jane Austen

Soup, by Evelyn Waugh

In Search of Lost Thyme, by Marcel Proust

The End of the Eclair, by Graham Greene

A View from the Fridge, by Arthur Miller

Scone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell


Related Posts

Share This

1 Comment

  1. Your style is so unique compared to many other people. Thank you for publishing when you have the opportunity,Guess I will just make this bookmarked.2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *