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It won’t be wrong to say that Enid Blyton was as much a food writer as she was an iconic author of children’s books. In fact, one could go ahead and say that Blyton was single-handedly responsible for making children dream of blancmange, strawberries and cream, buttery scones, a pot of clotted cream and fresh strawberry jam, a feats of tongue sandwiches, tinned sardines in tomato sauce, hard boiled eggs, pickled onions, pork pies, anchovy paste, sausages, chocolates, jam tarts and eclairs… The list could go on and on.
Then who could forget the lavish Mad Hatter’s tea party in Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, and, oh, JK Rowling’s immaculate description of each and every wonderful sweet from Honeydukes sweet shop and the mugs of butterbeer that taste as “a less sickly butterscotch” in the Harry Potter series.
The connection between food and literature is one of old. These littérateurs can even be called the original food bloggers as each and every carefully worded description successfully creates an imagery that would put even the most delectable photos to shame. But maybe not! Paris-based photographer Charles Roux spent two years recreating iconic feasts from various works of fiction.
The photo series, Fictitious Feasts, “is based upon food scenes in fiction texts. Eating is an essential activity, and connects both a sense of survival and social functions. Literature is frequently embedded in the imagery of food, and in many cases, characters are busy with the preparation or the consumption of a meal. The motif of food is particularly interesting in so far as it deeply reveals everyday life and its rituals, or it is a landmark in in the storytelling”, Roux explains on his website. In an interview with Feature Shoot, Roux said that as a lonely kid he would fill his life and his voids with literary fiction, which formed the basis of this series as well.
Fictitious Feasts covers literary works across genres and generations. From porridge Goldilocks and the Three Bears to Love in the Time of Cholera. There is tea from Jane Eyre to the spread of rotten food for Franz Kafka’s protagonist in The Metamorphosis. “Giving life to the story, food can also define a character or convey another theme: it relates the characters to some social or cultural identity. It could be said that writing reveals a great deal of human behaviours when intertwined with the literary treatment of food, for food not only nourishes but it is also a pretext to dramatic events or metaphors. Both food and words are essential to the human race and the way they are closely interwoven in literature is relevant of a certain human dimension” wrote Roux about his project.
But what happens to all that food once they’ve been shot? In an interview with Quartz, Roux said he tried not to waste any. “For a few months I knew exactly what I was eating,” he said.
You can see the Fictitious Feasts series on Roux’s website (www.charlesroux.com/albums/fictitious-feasts-1/)