Edible Literature: Tasty Treats for Book Lovers

Alice and her Wonderland friends are not the only ones to have thrown a Mad Hatter’s tea party…

Here are some imaginative people who have combined two of life’s great pleasures: books and food. This list will leave your stomach growling…

Design Criminals Edible Catalogue, designed by Andreas Pohancenik

This is a book with a huge difference: you can eat it! Each page is made from thin, white wafer, which is then printed with coloured vegetable ink. This deliciously sweet book also has a beautifully designed typographic slippage case created from pastillage, a technique which involves the shaping of sugar. The yummy catalogue was designed for Sam Jacob’s Design Criminals exhibition at the Vienna MAK. What is more, an evening event was held by MAK, where some lucky visitors had the extremely unique opportunity to read and taste a book.

 The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and Heston’s Feasts, Channel 4

 Heston Blumenthal was deeply captivated by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Gothic tale of the dignified Dr Jekyll who gulps down a strange potion, which reveals the darkness lurking in his soul in the form of the supremely hideous Mr Hyde. Blumenthal was so mesmerised by this strange story that he decided to create an alcoholic drink with a good and evil, split personality. The dual identity of the drink is suggested by its both hot and cold elements, and the fact that it is both liquid and vapour. For the cold element, Blumenthal decided to make spheres of gin and tonic. The process involved allowing the liquid from the pipette to drop into the oil, thereby setting it. And for the hot element he came up with the wicked idea of a gin laced foam. Furthermore, the swirling, fragrant vapour is created from a combination of herbs and spices, rose petals, Blumenthal’s version of Jekyll’s white salt (Crushed dried ice) and cucumber juice. The frothy green drink was definitely an extraordinary, eye-catching spectacle!

 Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind and Heston’s Mission Impossible, Channel 4

Earlier this year, Heston’s Mission Impossible series showed Blumenthal tackle some tough challenges to radically change the food production of four major British brands. The ever eccentric Blumenthal, asked Cineworld bosses to consider the idea of a 4D multi-sensory cinematic experience. He subsequently created a trio of scents and snacks for the Cineworld staff to consume whilst watching the film Perfume, based on Patrick Süskind’s spine-tingling novel. He distributed chicken liver paste with a foul smelling anchovy sauce as the film opened with the putrid fish market scene. The odours contributed to the audience’s sense of complete and utter disgust at the grotty, miserable location in the film. The quirky chef also spritzed an odorous mist resembling the soothing smell of a newborn baby served alongside a comforting portion of rice pudding with pistachio oil and crystallized pistachios. Most bizarrely, during the film’s climatic orgy scene, he squirted a sperm-like smell to accompany an ‘edible sperm shake’. This last snack was made of a pineapple gel mixed with coconut milk, and said to taste like a cocktail. The idea was intriguing, entertaining and fun, but was ultimately not cost-effective and was deemed too complicated to work on a daily basis.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Dining with Alice, Elsing Hall, Norfolk

In May 2011, 2000 diners indulged themselves with an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland inspired feast at a grand 15th century manor house in Norfolk. Guests had the chance to meet the gloriously wacky Mad Hatter, the frighteningly tempestuous Queen of Hearts and the iconic White Rabbit, as they gave a surreal theatre performance. The food magicians, Bompas and Parr, put together the four course Victorian menu, which featured mock turtle soup, a ‘Drink Me’ treat, among other weird and wonderful food and drink. Unusually, dessert was served on a floating pontoon in a moat. Terrifically topsy-turvy.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea, Sanderson Hotel London

Curious Alice and her peculiar companions are so fascinating they have managed to inspire Sanderson Hotel to offer Mad Hatter style afternoon tea to their customers. With blueberry lollipops which turn your tongue from hot to cold and hazelnut praline ice cream lollipops that explode in your mouth this sounds like a truly wild and exciting experience. The Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea costs £25 per person. Parts of the menu changes seasonally.

Emily Cleaver

About Emily Cleaver

Emily Cleaver is Litro's Online Editor. She is passionate about short stories and writes, reads and reviews them. Her own stories have been published in the London Lies anthology from Arachne Press, Paraxis, .Cent, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, One Eye Grey, and Smoke magazines, performed to audiences at Liars League, Stand Up Tragedy, WritLOUD, Tales of the Decongested and Spark London and broadcasted on Resonance FM and Pagan Radio. As a former manager of one of London’s oldest second-hand bookshops, she also blogs about old and obscure books. You can read her tiny true dramas about working in a secondhand bookshop at smallplays.com and see more of her writing at emilycleaver.net.

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