I guess I’m just sitting here trying to work out how I can write this review without it turning into a creepy love letter to Cara Nicoletti, a person who I have never met. If it takes a creepy turn, I apologise in advance. Please know that it’s purely a result of my enormous enthusiasm for the book, and the fact that I’m just overjoyed to have it in my library, sitting on the shelf next to my other favourite works of food literature.
Here’s some background on the author, Cara: she ran a literary supper club for a while, cooking food from her favourite books, and that she then parlayed that into a blog called Yummybooks (I love the normcore-ness of the title) which I discovered after it won a Homies award a few years ago. Loved it then, love it now, and the book, Voracious: a hungry reader cooks her way through great books, is just an extension – a glorious, beautifully written, very personal extension – of the original blog.
The book runs through three periods of Nicoletti’s life; her childhood, adolescence/college years, and adulthood. Each section is filled with essays about the books which she read during that period, and a recipe which was inspired by each book. Combinations include Jane Austen’s Emma and a perfect soft boiled egg, The Indian in the Cupboard and Grilled Roast Beef, and a Cherry Pie inspired by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
I’m not going to lie, the very premise of this book is such that I was always going to love it: great books and great food are two of my four great loves in this life (great music and dogs being the other two). But this book is not just a great idea. It’s a beautifully written, heartfelt piece of literature, on a par with Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, and the food-related writing of Nora Ephron. It’s a huge call, but I love it that much.
Every essay is another window into Nicoletti’s life, and how she relates to the world around her through books and food. In the Pippi Longstocking essay, you really root for 6 year old Cara who split her eyelid open the day before seeing a long-awaited Disney On Ice performance, and had to wear an eye-patch to watch the show. I not only relate to the panic and stress little Cara felt after seeing Disney on Ice (and I had both my eyes), but also the game of Dog School (seriously, get the book) that her and sister were playing when the eye-splitting accident occurred – my older sister used to get tired of playing with me pretty quickly too.
I guess what I love most about this book is that it’s honest. For example, in the essay for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Cara actually admits to giving a cookie crumb to a mouse. She gave a mouse a cookie! She also talks about someone throwing up ‘cheeto coloured vomit’ on her shoes. See what I mean? Honest. If it’s not obvious by now, I’m giving this book my full, heartfelt endorsement. I loved it. I can’t imagine anyone not finding something to love in it. You should get it.
P.S. That one link at the top is an affiliate link, meaning I get a small % if you click it and buy the book. I got this book for Christmas from my Mum and Dad. LOVE YA!