Literary Dishes Inspired By Our Favorite Books

Literary Recipes
Photo: Michael Marquand/Getty Images

If you've ever wanted to sample the dishes enjoyed by the characters in your favorite books, you're in luck. Bookish bites await: From The Secret Garden and Charlotte's Web to The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird, there is no shortage of books containing memorable—and mouthwatering—descriptions of food. With that in mind, here's a collection of recipes plucked from the pages of classic and destined-to-be-classic books. These are perfect recipes (and reads!) for your next book club, and they are inspired ways to bring what you're reading to the table at dinnertime. For the kids in your life, there are plenty of children's books included on the list, ones so beloved that they're likely to coax a re-read from grown-ups too. The pages of your favorite books might just provide the dinnertime inspiration you've been seeking. From the shelf to the kitchen, some books make us downright hungry—browse these literary dishes, and you'll soon see why.

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Recipes Inspired by Our Favorite Books

02 of 19

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Bakeshop Blueberry Muffins
Southern Living

"How they removed the covers of the dishes, and found rich, hot, tasty soup, and sandwiches and muffins enough for both of them. The tea was so delicious that it was not necessary to pretend that it was anything but tea."

Recipe: Bakeshop Blueberry Muffins

In A Little Princess, Sara Crewe and her friend Becky awake to a feast, a mysterious banquet of delicious foods and treats, that appears in their quarters at Miss Minchin's boarding school—a moment of joy during a period of strife for the two young girls.

03 of 19

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Simple Whole Chicken with Roasted Broccoli-Mushroom Rice
Alison Miksch

"We had eaten very good cold chicken at noon but this was still famous chicken country so we had poularde de Bresse and a bottle of Montagny, a light, pleasant white wine of the neighborhood."

Recipe: Roast Chicken

The entire book is a celebration of the art of eating, and nearly every page is rife with dinner ideas. One memorable trip in Hemingway's A Moveable Feast includes meals of roast chicken, a dish that demands mastery.

04 of 19

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Mini Strawberry Tarts
Greg Dupree

"In the next moment, her eyes fell on the White Rabbit that was serving the court as a herald and was reading the accusation that the Knave of Hearts had stolen the Queen's tarts. In the middle of the court, a large platter of tarts was on display."

Recipe: Mini Strawberry Tarts

Alice's Wonderland adventures contain more than a few references to tea and tea parties—the Mad Hatter's comes to mind—and a perfect complement to a cup of tea is a fruit tart, like the ones the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing from the queen of the same suit.

05 of 19

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

Fried Green Tomatoes
Jennifer Davick

"Idgie and Ruth had set a place for him at a table. He sat down to a plate of fried chicken, black-eyed peas, turnip greens, fried green tomatoes, cornbread, and iced tea."

Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes
Recipe: Classic Sweet Tea

In Fannie Flagg's novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, the titular restaurant is the go-to spot in Whistle Stop, Alabama, for satisfying meals—and heartwarming company too.

06 of 19

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Mini Tomato Sandwiches With Bacon Mayonnaise
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

"'Listen, Harriet, you've taken a tomato sandwich to school every day for five years. Don't you get tired of them?'

Recipe: Mini Tomato Sandwiches with Bacon Mayonnaise

In all of literature, there may be no more avid consumer of tomato-and-mayonnaise sandwiches than Harriet M. Welsch, an observant eleven-year-old determined to be a professional private eye.

07 of 19

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Easy Peach Cobbler
Iain Bagwell; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

"And when they saw the great golden peach floating past them not fifty yards away in the sky, they gave a great yelp of surprise and dropped their shovels to the ground."

Recipe: Easy Peach Cobbler

The mode of transportation at the heart of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach is just that—a giant peach. An easy peach cobbler is the perfect pairing for this whimsical children's novel and its high-flying adventures.

08 of 19

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Ben Mim's Perfect Cornbread Recipe
Brian Woodcock

"There was stewed jack rabbit with white-flour dumplings and plenty of gravy. There was a steaming-hot, thick cornbread flavored with bacon fat. There was molasses to eat on the cornbread…"

Recipe: Ben Mims' Perfect Cornbread
Recipe: Ultimate Make-Ahead Gravy

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series is filled with descriptions of food cooked on the prairie, in the big woods, and by Plum Creek. Pick up any one of Wilder's novels, and you'll no doubt be inspired re-create a dish or two in your own kitchen.

09 of 19

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Strawberries-and-Cream Sheet Cake
Photo: Hector Sanchez

"Jo's one strong point was the fruit, for she had sugared it well, and had a pitcher of rich cream to eat with it. Her hot cheeks cooled a trifle, and she drew a long breath as the pretty glass plates went round, and everyone looked graciously at the little rosy islands floating in a sea of cream."

Recipe: Strawberries-and-Cream Sheet Cake

In Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Jo March prepares a meal for her sisters, Laurie, and their neighbor, Miss Crocker. Strawberries and cream finish the meal.

10 of 19

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
Alison Miksch; Prop styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food styling: Mary-Claire Britton

"The cook disappeared. Almost at once she was back again staggering under the weight of an enormous round chocolate cake on a china platter. The cake was fully eighteen inches in diameter and it was covered with dark-brown chocolate icing."

Recipe: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Perhaps the most famous chocolate cake in all of children's literature is the one Bruce Bogtrotter is forced to eat in front of the entire school in Roald Dahl's Matilda. Enjoy your own slice—at your leisure—by making this decadent, towering chocolate cake.

11 of 19

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

apple cinnamon pancakes
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos, Prop Stylist: Claire Spollen Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

"And they shouted with delight when they saw all the good things Pippi had set out on the bare rock. There were lovely little sandwiches of meatloaf and ham, a whole pile of pancakes sprinkled with sugar, little brown sausages, and three pineapple puddings."

Recipe: Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

The unconventional Pippi Longstocking can do many exciting things—lift her horse with one hand, tell swash-buckling stories of adventure on the high seas—and she serves a mean brunch spread too, complete with a stack of sugar-speckled pancakes.

12 of 19

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Cheese Puffs with Ham Salad
Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Torie Cox

"At length, however, Mrs. Bennet had no more to say; and Lady Lucas, who had been long yawning at the repetition of delights which she saw no likelihood of sharing, was left to the comforts of cold ham and chicken."

Recipe: Ham Salad

While ham salad as we make it probably wouldn't be found on the Bennet table, this interpretation of Lady Lucas' meal will transport a tableau from the pages of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to your dining room.

13 of 19

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Oven-Fried Chicken with Spring Salad
Greg DuPree

"Daisy and Tom were sitting opposite each other at the kitchen table, with a plate of cold fried chicken between them, and two bottles of ale."

Recipe: Mama's Fried Chicken

Southern-favorite fried chicken gets a mention in Fitzgerald's New York City-set classic The Great Gatsby. For a true Jazz Age meal, add a glass of fizzy champagne—you know, for good measure.

14 of 19

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Shepherd’s Pie with Potato Crust
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

"It was Elizabeth we had in common. Without her urging, I would never have thought to invite them to share my pig, and the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society would never have drawn breath."

Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

The "potato peel pie" of the novel's title is a reference to the time period in which the book is set. During World War II, food was rationed, making certain foods luxury goods and culinary ingenuity a requirement. Pair this book with a shepherd's pie topped with broiled mashed potatoes (sans peel) for a tip of the hat to Guernsey.

15 of 19

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Classic Roasted Duck with Orange-Bourbon-Molasses Glaze
Southern Living

"'Tomorrow we're going to have duck Rochambeau right here. Tell me honestly, have you ever tasted better food at Galatoires?'
'No, It's very good, Walter.'"

Recipe: Classic Roasted Duck with Orange-Bourbon-Molasses Glaze

Binx Bolling, the wanderer at the center of Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, finds himself adrift in New Orleans and invited by an acquaintance, Walter, to a fancy duck dinner.

16 of 19

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Crispy Potatoes
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Katelyn Hardwick

"Dickon made the stimulating discovery […] there was a deep little hollow where you could build a sort of tiny oven with stones and roast potatoes and eggs in it. […] Very hot potatoes with salt and fresh butter in them were fit for a woodland king—besides being deliciously satisfying."

Recipe: Crispy Potatoes

The adventures of Mary Lennox, Colin Craven, and Dickon Sowerby are filled with imaginative forays into a secret garden that they coax back to life. In it, they discover many wonders, including a place to build an oven for preparing assorted dishes, including buttered and roasted potatoes.

17 of 19

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

DIY Deviled Egg Bar
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Karin Olsen; Food Styling: William Smith

"They got under way slicing ham, laying out fried chicken, shaking paprika on the deviled eggs. We had green beans, turnips, macaroni and cheese, caramel cake—all kinds of funeral foods. We ate standing in the kitchen holding paper plates […]."

Recipe: Classic Deviled Eggs
Recipe: Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe: Old-Fashioned Caramel Cake

Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees is set in 1964 in the fictional Southern town of Sylvan, South Carolina. Unsurprisingly, it includes more than a few references to classic Southern dishes.

18 of 19

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Lane Cake
Hector Sanchez

"I'll make him a Lane cake. That Stephanie's been after my recipe for thirty years, and if she thinks I'll give it to her just because I'm staying with her, she's got another think coming."

Recipe: Lane Cake

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout Finch's neighbor, Miss Maudie Atkinson, makes a bourbon-loaded Lane cake that's famous all over the town of Maycomb, Alabama.

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Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Hot Honey Recipe
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Karin Olsen; Food Styling: Kellie Gerber Kelley

"'Well,' said Pooh, 'it's the middle of the night, which is a good time for going to sleep. And to-morrow morning we'll have some honey for breakfast. Do Tiggers like honey?'
'They like everything,' said Tigger cheerfully."

Recipe: Hot Honey

Winnie-the-Pooh and honey go together like, well, you get the idea. Hot honey adds a kick to the sweet syrup you know and love; try a drizzle on homemade pizza, chicken, or roasted sweet potatoes.

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