One of the most amazing things about books is the way they pull you in, fabricate an entire world out of words. Plot and characters are helpful in this, but worldbuilding is the most useful tool in a writer’s arsenal—something as simple as a menu detail can add so much to reader’s experience. Here are 10 literary lunch recipes for students that will fully transform the reading experience.
1. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Shop Cafe
Based on the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Shop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, this meal of fried green tomatoes is as satisfying as it’s novel namesake. Prepare one and a half cup of cornmeal and all-purpose flour in two seperate bowls, filling a third bowl with four large beaten eggs. Slice tomatoes thickly, dredging each slice in the flour, egg, and cornmeal in that order—shaking off the excess. Fry in small batches—ideally in 3 tablespoons of bacon fat or butter—three or four minutes on each side.
2. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
Based on the creative foods inspired by the land of Narnia—found in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe—this simple and hearty lunch will keep you full for an afternoon of adventure. First, seep favorite tea, set a small pot of water to boil, and place a few slices of bread to toast. Once water is boiling, carefully submerge three eggs, monitoring them as they boil for about eight minutes. Removed toasted bread and slather thickly with butter and honey. Plate and serve alongside a cup of tea and the peeled soft-boiled eggs.
3. The Great Gatsby
Based on the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, this fried chicken lunch is a pleasant change from the glitz and glamour of the novel’s high-society setting. To create this fried chicken, acquire at least six boneless skinless chicken breasts, 3/4 of a cup of all-purpose flour, two teaspoons of salt, three eggs, three cups of fine breadcrumbs, and enough neutral oil for frying. Seperate the flour, breadcrumbs, and beaten eggs in three individual bowls and dredge each chicken piece in the flour, egg, and cornmeal in that order—shaking off the excess. Fry in small batches, until crisp and golden all over. In keeping with the Gatsby theme, serve with a bottle of pale beer.
4. Alice in Wonderland
Based on Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice in Wonderland, this afternoon tea party lunch will transport you down the rabbit hole. Set a tea kettle on high, preparing a few packets of tea to steep; Rose Petal and Vanilla tea is preferred but any type of tea will do. To make the cucumber sandwiches, gather thinly sliced cucumber, a few slices of sandwich bread, two tablespoons of softened butter, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, and one teaspoon of yellow mustard. Spread half the slices of bread with softened butter and combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and a dash of black pepper in a small bowl. Arrange the cucumber slices onto the buttered bread, and spread a layer of the mayonnaise and mustard mixture atop the cucumber layer. Top with the remaining bread and cut sandwiches into miniature shapes.
5. To Kill A Mockingbird
Based on the revolutionary novel To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, this is one of the many literary lunch recipes that will become a staple in many households. To recreate Tom Robinson’s fried chicken, gather at least six bone-in chicken thighs, 3/4 of a cup of all-purpose flour, two teaspoons of salt, three eggs, three cups of fine breadcrumbs, and enough neutral oil for frying. Seperate the flour, breadcrumbs, and beaten eggs in three individual bowls and dredge each chicken piece in the flour, egg, and cornmeal in that order—shaking off the excess. Fry in small batches, until crisp and golden all over.
Inspired by the classic Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, this clam chowder is one of the many literary lunch recipes that is as satisfying as the novel it’s based on. To create a simple version of this soup gather three carrots, on large onion, two stalks of celery, three smallish potatoes, two cans of chopped clams and their juices, plus eight ounces of clam juice, 1/2 cup of both flour and butter, and one pint of half and half. Cut all vegetables to desired size and place in a deep saute pan, adding both cans of clams and the calm juice. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring, and allow to simmer for fifteen minutes then remove from heat and set aside. Melt the butter in a stock pot on medium heat, adding the flour slowly, and whisking until it turns paste-like—about a minute. Add half-an-half and whisk continuously, pouring in vegetables, calms, and clam juice—allow to finish cooking, untouched, for at least five minutes.
7. The Catcher in the Rye
Inspired by The Catcher in the Rye, this is one of the simpler literary lunch recipes. As the novel does not specify if the cheese sandwich is of the grilled variety or not, feel free to make cheese sandwich according to personal preferences. To create the malted milk—which is similar in consistency to a milkshake—combine one cup of vanilla ice cream, two tablespoons of whole milk, and one teaspoon of store-bought malt powder in a blender. Blend on a medium speed until the beverage is completely smooth.
8. The Hunger Games
While the The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins has many delicious foods, the infamous “Reaping Soup” is one of the most fantastic literary lunch recipes. While this fictional soup is not based on an official recipe, it is easy to recreate. Purchase a good fillet of whitefish from the store and boil the head, bones, and a few cups of water until a hearty fish stock forms. Add a few tablespoons of thyme and parsley, two cloves of garlic, half an onion or a tablespoon of onion powder, and grate a small potato directly into the pot. Remove the fish bones and stir until a the soup has thickened considerably, adding a few handfuls of leafy greens—like spinach or kale. Serve with a loaf of crusty artisan-like bread.
9. Harry Potter
While there are undoubtedly hundreds of magical foodstuff found in the Harry Potter series, Bangers and Mash is a Hogwarts staple. To recreate this classic of the literary lunch recipes, gather a pack of your favorite savory sausage—preferable not of the breakfast variety—two pounds of baking potatoes, at least two tablespoons of butter, and one cup of milk. Cook potatoes by boiling for about fifteen minutes; meanwhile, heat butter and milk in a saucepan over a low heat until butter is melted. Mash the cooked potatoes, slowly blending in the butter mixture until potatoes are smooth and creamy. Grill sausages quickly, turning links in intervals until browned evenly on all sides, and transfer to a small bowl with a few dollops of mashed potatoes.
10. The Raven Boys
Based on The Raven Cycle series by Young Adult author Maggie Stiefvater, this sausage and avocado pizza is first introduced in The Raven Boys and a fabulous addition to literary lunch recipes. For the sake of simplicity, store-bought pizza crust works well here, along with 3/4 of a pound of mozzarella cheese, at least half a pound of ground sausage, one sliced avocado, one 20-ounce can of diced tomatoes, two tablespoons of Italian seasoning, and two tablespoons of olive oil for drizzling. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and cook the ground sausage according to package directions. Begin decorating the pizza crust with a fine layer of mozzarella cheese, crumbled sausage on one half and avocado slices on the other half. Drain diced tomatoes and spread an even layer across the whole pizza, adding the remainder of mozzarella cheese and sprinkling with Italian seasoning. Brush crust with olive oil if desired and bake for about 20 minutes—until cheese is melted and browned in spots—and let rest for another 15 minutes.