Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kafka's Soup: A Complete History of World Literature in 14 recipes by Mark Crick

This quirky little book was recently on display at my library, and I couldn't resist taking a closer look. It consists of fourteen recipes, each reading more like a short story. The fun begins when you realize the "stories" are written in the style of a famous author.

As I skimmed through this slim collection, I was particularly drawn to "recipes" by Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, Virginia Woolf, and Geoffrey Chaucer. As expected, Chaucer's Onion Tart recipe was beyond my comprehension (as is his work). Harold Pinter's Cheese on Toast recipe is, naturally, presented as a play.

My favorite recipe was for Tarragon Eggs a la Jane Austen:
4 eggs
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dried
4 tablespoons butter
Ground pepper
Pinch of salt 
It is a truth universally acknowledged that eggs, kept for too long, go off. The eggs of Oakley Farm had only recently been settled in the kitchen of Somercote, but already Mrs. B- was planning a meal that would introduce them to the neighbourhood with what she hoped would be universal acceptance. Her eggs had been strongly endowed by nature with a turn for being uniformly agreeable and she hoped to see at least a half dozen of them make fine matches in the coming week. 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....
The book is very clever. Of course, it helps to be familiar with the writing of each recipe's author, but even if you just know a few, it's still pretty funny.

Kafka's Soup
Written and illustrated by Mark Crick
Harcourt, Inc., 2005
92 pages

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up over the weekend.


  1. Love it! I heard about this books from -- was it Marg? -- someone last year and have been meaning to track it down. Oh that P&P take-off is fantastic. I'll have to see if my library has this.

  2. This sounds incredibly adorable. If only I cooked my own meals...

  3. I seriously HAVE to get this book! My oldest son, Josh, got me Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for Christmas and it was hysterical. Just finished Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and have not had time to post the review yet. It was funny but not AS funny as P n P n Z!

  4. How ingenious! I will see if my library has it, right after I make tarragon eggs!

  5. What a clever book. Have to check this one out!

  6. Oh, oh, oh --I want this! Actually I was just wondering what to get from one of my brother's for his bday--he will love this. Thanks!

  7. but what of Kalfa's Soup...I must know. ;-)

  8. Sounds like a fun read and one I would have probably picked off the shelf myself.

  9. Oh, I have this book but haven't actually read it yet. Thanks for reminding me to look at it again :).

  10. This book sounds so interesting! I'm really curious to know what Jane Austen's recipes are, because I remember reading somewhere that in all her novels, she seldom mentions specific food and drink.

  11. Sounds like a delightfully quirky little book :)

  12. What a completely unique idea for a book. I love it!

  13. What a fun concept for a book. I love it when food and literature comes together!
    Joy's Book Blog

  14. LOL what a great idea. Reading about Jane's eggs made me smile.

  15. What a sweet, fun book! I'm definitely going to look ths up at the bookstore!

  16. Oh wow! I want THIS book!

  17. Beth F - It's definitely worth taking a closer look.

    Robby - It's lots of fun - not exactly recipes you'd actually cook though.

    Libby Rodriguez - I think my daughter has P&P & Zombies on her shelf...keep meaning to take a look at it.

    Peggy - LOL! I hope your library has a copy.

    Carol - It is very clever!

    JaneGS - I hope this isn't too hard to find.

    Caite - Oh yes, the soup ;-)

    Kathleen - I doubt this spends much time on the library shelf.

    Nise' - Oh, it is!

    Audrey - Yes, a lot of fun!

    Jama - You've got to find time to read this one!

    Arti - There is just one recipe per author, so the tarragon eggs is it for Jane. Now that you mention it, I don't remember reading specific food details in Austen's novels either.

    Sam - Fun, clever, and quirky!

    Nan - I've never seen anything like this before, either.

    Joy - Food and literature is a perfect combination!

    Shelley Munro - The whole book made me smile. It's very clever!

    DCMetroreader - Wonder where he got the inspiration for this one...

    Amy - This book was a lot of fun to read through. Hope you get a chance to take a closer look at it.

    Annie - This was too cute to resist!

  18. What fun! I wonder if my library has it...

  19. This book sounds tasty to the mind. Thanks for introducing me to it.

  20. It sounds like a lot of fun. Sometimes excessive cuteness can become precious, and I was wondering if he could pull it off. Glad to see your review.

    1. Fay - This was a lot of fun. It's short length probably added to the appeal... any longer and you run the risk of too much of a good thing.


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