Hungry for Classic Lit? Fictitious Dishes Depicts Novels in Food

04/21/2014 at 05:21 PM ET

Fictitious Dishes
Courtesy Harper Collins

How do you capture the essence of a famous work of literature without using words?

You make a plate of fried chicken or a grilled cheese sandwich — or whatever food best represents the book — and place it on a surface (wood table, a pretty tablecloth) that underscores the book’s setting and tone.

In her new book, Fictitious Dishes, author Dinah Fried “cooked” for 50 celebrated works of fiction, including To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye, to give readers a visual taste of what the novels are all about.

It’s like SparkNotes but with plated food. Check out what Fried envisioned for each book.

To Kill a Mockingbird (pictured above)
By day, Atticus Finch was a Southern lawyer fighting for racial equality during the Depression era in Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. But by night, Finch was a single dad enjoying a simple home-cooked meal like fried chicken and green beans with his two young children who hadn’t yet been touched by prejudice.

Fictitious Dishes
Courtesy Harper Collins

The Catcher in the Rye
That grilled cheese sandwich looks pretty lonely on the plate, even with a pickle companion. That about sums up J.D. Salinger’s coming-of-age book centered on odd, rebellious teenager Holden Caulfield.

Fictitious Dishes
Courtesy Harper Collins

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel about the illusions of grandeur of a young millionaire and his pals is summed up in this decadent spread of caviar, smoked salmon, a harlequin-designed salad — and pigs in a blanket.

Fictitious Dishes
Courtesy Harper Collins

There’s nothing more appropriate than a bowl of clam chowder to speak the language of the sea depicted in Herman Melville’s classic tale of a captain’s pursuit of a great white whale.

Fictitious Dishes
Courtesy Harper Collins

The Bell Jar
The ladylike meal of crab-stuffed avocado evokes the time that Sylvia Plath’s mentally unstable protagonist spent interning at a New York women’s magazine in the 1960s.

Fictitious Dishes
Courtesy Harper Collins

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
This colorful table, set with fine china, a lace overlay, playing cards, tea and sugar, evokes the magical world of Wonderland, where a young girl named Alice lands after falling down a magic hole.

—Nancy Mattia

Reprinted with permission from Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried. Copyright 2014. Published by Harper Collins. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

FILED UNDER: Food , Food News

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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