The Top Five: Food
Jennie Pritchard salutes this week’s big interviewee, Jay Rayner, with her pick of the Top Five books about food and restaurants.
American Psycho by Brett Easton-Ellis
Frequent scenes of egregious, filthy-rich businessmen dining in decadent Manhattan restaurants, flaunting their AmEx cards and spitting bile about colleagues and peers actually offer pleasant, light relief from horrific descriptions of Patrick Bateman’s murderous streak in this psychotic thriller.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
A charming and loveable 80s tale of a cafe in deep-south Alabama where the homeless are fed, African Americans are treated respectfully, everyone has a name like Smokey Lonesome and wife-beaters are eaten on the barbecue. Well, wait, ignore the cannibalism, it’s all happy and liberal here at the Whistle Stop Café.
The Food of Love by Anthony Capella
Art history student Laura Patterson moves to Rome for a year abroad and takes in as much food and romance as she does architecture. This is a glorious comedy of errors depicting Rome in all its dazzling back-street beauty; the city as much an aphrodisiac as the smell of exciting Roman cuisine that wafts from every street corner.
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
Orwell’s account of his time as a destitute dishwasher in the busy kitchen of a 1920s Parisian restaurant, working seventeen and a half hours a day, scraping 4 hours sleep and drinking from Saturday night through to Sunday morning. Nicely done.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
A beautiful, childhood gem of a book, in which Charlie Bucket and his family are saved from starvation by a suspiciously benevolent chocolatier who invites them into his mysteriously innovative chocolate factory. Dahl’s later work, Charlie and the Battle Against Chronic Diabetes never really achieved the same popularity.