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Reading Remedy: food, glorious food

From entire chocolate cakes to delicious dumplings, here are unforgettable literary food moments to enjoy while real life shopping remains a source of stress.

Books to help you celebrate food

When we come out of this lockdown and are asked how we spent our waking hours, many of us will say we spent it thinking about food.

We made banana bread, and Dalgona coffees. We tried a pasta dish cobbled together from all the leftover packets that have been hiding at the backs of our cupboards for months. We used up sad-looking veg in a pie/casserole/stew hybrid. We were in our very own telling of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

That is, of course, if we were lucky. For many, lockdown has been a time when the struggle to feed ourselves and our families became harder, and we saw more starkly than ever the social inequalities that somehow make food a privilege instead of a right. 

Whatever our circumstances, the lockdown is likely to have given us a renewed appreciation for food: a joy reflected no where more clearly than in books.

In many of Charles Dickens' novels, the best food is that which fulfils a physical need first, and therefore becomes about something else (gratitude, friendship, human connection): Oliver taking delight in basic porridge and wanting more, or Magwitch scarfing down bread and cheese and other "victuals" on a misty morning after having escaped from jail.

This coronavirus lockdown is not jail and we are not serving a prison sentence. But, when we are finally able to escape our homes, it will be the joy of food – the food that we ate, the food that we didn't, the food that we're looking forward to – that will be one of the defining parts of our experience.

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