The mouth-watering Boeuf en Daube scene of To the Lighthouse is famous. Bits about tea and dinner parties and lunches and cooking are scattered throughout her Diary and Letters. But clafoutis grandmère?
Yet that is what Mark Crick has Virginia Woolf cooking in his book, Kafka’s Soup: A Complete History of World Literature in 14 Recipes.
Crick, a photographer who started cooking at the age of 11 and learned the fine points of food shopping while trailing behind his mother on sick days home from school, wrote the book — and illustrated it — as a lark.
In it, he shares a recipe and a companion piece of short fiction for 14 different writers. Each is written in the voice of a famous author — from Homer to Chaucer to Jane Austen to Raymond Chandler.
Virginia Woolf, he says, was the most difficult to capture. He did it using her signature stream of consciousness style.
“She was difficult because her voice is so subtle and not that old-fashioned sounding. You really want people with a voice that is recognisable even if they’re writing about car maintenance,” Crick told The Telegraph.
He portrays Woolf as cooking clafoutis grandmère, a French cherry tart.
“I thought of her making something soft, rising and feminine” he said in an interview with The Telegraph. “The cherries are cradled and protected in batter in the same way that the mother in Woolf’s books protects her children.”
Here’s a quote from his section on Woolf:
Woolf: Clafoutis Grandmère ‘Looking back at the cherries, that would not be pitted, red polka dots on white, so bright and jolly, their little core of hardness invisible, in pity she thought of Mrs Sorley, that poor woman with no husband and so many mouths to feed…’
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