Here it is, the final and fifth edition of Literature’s Tastiest Parties, Feasts, Fêtes And What They Ate. For this dessert course, you’ll be treated to some fine bubbly courtesy of F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as the strangest tea and crumpet conversation you’ve ever heard, thanks to Lewis Carroll. Looking for a treat that’s off the page and deliciously palatable? Some handmade peppermint bark should do the trick. Or, if you need something a little richer and sure to sustain you through a full chapter or two, a Chocolate Mousse Torte may be just what the author ordered.
"The Great Gatsby" - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published in 1925 to immediate acclaim, "The Great Gatsby" is likely the one book on this list that requires next to no introduction. Not only is it an essential novel in Western Literature's canon, but it has been repeatedly praised as The Great American novel and an almost perfect book. (Although not every high school sophomore would leap at the opportunity to agree.)
Set between the spring and autumn of 1922, amidst the roaring '20s and still long before the wakeup call of The Great Depression (indeed, that was four years away when Fitzgerald's book went to print), the novel tells the story of Jay Gatsby through the eyes of his neighbor, friend and sometimes confidant, Nick Carraway. Jay longs for Daisy Buchanan, who's married to Tom, and the fact that they're all rich and either obsessed with themselves or one another doesn't lead things toward a particularly happy ending. But between plenty of fights, car accidents and gunshots, there's a lot of partying that gets done.
What they ate
The fact of the matter is, they probably ate a whole lot less than they drank. The novel is set - and Fitzgerald wrote it - during the midst of the Prohibition era, the period between 1920 and '33 when the sale and manufacturing of alcohol was banned. This resulted in a lot of bootleg liquor and some under-the-counter millionaires.
The alcoholic haze that, ironically, many wealthy folks waltz through the time period in is a major theme in the novel. And there's little doubt that one of Gatsby's notorious parties would be a contender for Literature's Greatest Ragers. Rather than dinner parties, almost every event was a cocktail party. And while some Long Island oysters inevitably made their way to the table, you can bet that the primary diet was champagne and mint julep.
"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - Lewis Carroll
Another book that requires almost no introduction, Lewis Carroll's classic tale of a curious girl dropped into a curiouser and curiouser world is one of the greatest children's stories ever put to paper. Published in 1865 by Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pen name Lewis Carroll, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" is more than just a fantasy adventure, it's a playful pun-filled logic puzzle filled with enjoyable nonsense and memorable characters. From Bill the Lizard to the White Rabbit or the Mock Turtle, everyone has their favorite Alice character. And if one book weren't enough, Dodgson's sequel, "Through the Looking Glass," is an ideal companion piece.
What they ate
As many readers will remember, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" features one of the more memorable tea parties in literary history. It certainly gives Proust a run for his money.
Alongside the March Hare, Mad Hatter and a very sleepy Dormouse, Alice partakes in a series of riddles and stories that includes relatively little tea. While Alice isn't a fan, the chapter has furnished the world with one of the most confounding riddles of all time - "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" A mad tea party indeed.
Naturally, these are only a small collection of some of literature's greatest feasts. You're probably wondering how the glorious Christmas feast at the end of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" got cut. How about those epic wine-drinking symposiums of ancient Greek literature and philosophical texts - what happened to the bacchanal? There are plenty of delightful dishes and succulent sweets out there that we missed, so why not drop us hint (and maybe a recipe) on our Facebook wall. Or, you can always tweet us 140 characters of your favorite bookish meal!