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"A kitchen, cluttered. A fluorescent tube is flickering, trying to light."
on November 26, 2006
In a great leap of imagination, Crick, described as a literary ventriloquist, has concocted a wonderful pastiche of recipes penned in the language of each author, 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. Somehow Crick manages to imbue each recipe with the distinctive flavor of the writer, those peculiarities of language so uniquely mastered by literary favorites. He carefully assembles each pastiche, marrying flavor and degree of difference with author, adding a pinch of tart or sweet as required for authenticity.
In 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." 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." Gabriel Garcia Marquez (in the person of Father Antonio del Sacrament de Altar Castaneda) prepares 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."
A photographer by trade, Crick created the artwork for each recipe, equally precise in tone and detail, from the stark illustration of Steinbeck's Mushroom Risotto to the simplicity of Homer's Fenkata. Harold Pinter's Cheese on Toast is in stark black and white relief, while Austen's Tarragon Eggs features an elegant drawing of a fashionable lady and gentleman. These fourteen recipes are more than just an exercise in literary imagination; this flavorful volume is a gem. Luan Gaines/2006.