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11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

Crystal King is the author of FEAST OF SORROW about the ancient Roman gourmand, Apicius. She’s also a culinary enthusiast and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, UMass Boston, and GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US. She considers Italy her next great love, after her husband, Joe, and their two cats, Nero and Merlin.

I grew up a picky eater, but when I met my husband, he quickly turned me around—introducing me to the pleasure of sitting down to a good meal, to the joy of eating together, and to the flavors of delicious ingredients paired with the right wine. An avid reader, I savored words in the same way that I savored food, and it wasn’t long before I realized the power of those two things when put together. Here are 11 novels that are sure to delight your reading palate as much as they did mine.


The Belly of Paris
by Emile Zola

In the third novel of Emile Zola’s 20-volume Les Rougon-Macquart series, a man named Florent, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, escapes to Paris and becomes a fish inspector at the Les Halles market. Food and politics collide in the heart of the market, giving the reader some of the most vivid and delicious descriptions you’ll ever find on the page.

The Belly of Paris
Emile Zola

In the third novel of Emile Zola’s 20-volume Les Rougon-Macquart series, a man named Florent, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, escapes to Paris and becomes a fish inspector at the Les Halles market. Food and politics collide in the heart of the market, giving the reader some of the most vivid and delicious descriptions you’ll ever find on the page.

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11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

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Appetite
by Philip Kazan

Nino Latino is the nephew of Fra Filippo Lippi, one of the greatest Florentine painters. For Nino, every taste brings a heightened connection to the people and places around him. He rises to culinary acclaim, but it’s the forbidden hand of a woman that threatens to undo him. A novel to relish and devour.

Appetite
Philip Kazan

Nino Latino is the nephew of Fra Filippo Lippi, one of the greatest Florentine painters. For Nino, every taste brings a heightened connection to the people and places around him. He rises to culinary acclaim, but it’s the forbidden hand of a woman that threatens to undo him. A novel to relish and devour.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

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The Flounder
by Günter Grass

An epic feast of a book, THE FLOUNDER winds the reader from the Stone Age to present day, mixing fantasy and history with dashes of actual recipes here and there. This novel is a long meal, full of the strangest stories, including talking fish and three-breasted women. But in every era and every chapter, there is a woman who is master of both man and kitchen.

The Flounder
Günter Grass

An epic feast of a book, THE FLOUNDER winds the reader from the Stone Age to present day, mixing fantasy and history with dashes of actual recipes here and there. This novel is a long meal, full of the strangest stories, including talking fish and three-breasted women. But in every era and every chapter, there is a woman who is master of both man and kitchen.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

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The Arrangement
by Ashley Warlick

Ashley Warlick takes on culinary legend M.F.K. Fisher in THE ARRANGEMENT. This is the story of the end of Fisher’s first marriage and the tangled threads that began her second. Aphrodisiacal descriptions of food, love, and desire abound.

The Arrangement
Ashley Warlick

Ashley Warlick takes on culinary legend M.F.K. Fisher in THE ARRANGEMENT. This is the story of the end of Fisher’s first marriage and the tangled threads that began her second. Aphrodisiacal descriptions of food, love, and desire abound.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

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The Debt to Pleasure
by John Lanchester
THE DEBT TO PLEASURE is the twisty, funny story of a gourmand turned detective. Incomparably plotted and gastronomically engineered, it’s a novel that will leave you full long after you’ve turned the final page.
The Debt to Pleasure
John Lanchester

A sinister, clever comedy, featuring the sentimental journey of middle-aged gourmand Tarquin Winot, traveling from Portsmouth to Provence, whilst at the same time revealing his past life in a series of gastronomic vignettes. Tarquin is a marvelous creation: articulate, superbly delusional, and as devoted to French cuisine as he is to murder.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

7 Unhinged Narrators Who Will Haunt Your Dreams

By Joanne Harris | March 17, 2017

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La Cucina
by Lily Prior

Food is love and power and sex. All of these sensations culminate in the story of Rosa, the victim of a tragic love affair. Lusty and sumptuous, LA CUCINA takes the idea of “food porn” to a new level.

La Cucina
Lily Prior

Food is love and power and sex. All of these sensations culminate in the story of Rosa, the victim of a tragic love affair. Lusty and sumptuous, LA CUCINA takes the idea of “food porn” to a new level.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

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Vintage
by David Baker

Down-and-out food journalist Bruno Tannenbaum discovers the key to reviving his career: a cork from a “lost” vintage of Nazi wine. What follows is a fun and funny trip through cocktail parties and Bacchanalian banquets, paired with mouthwatering dishes and the perfect wines.

Vintage
David Baker

Down-and-out food journalist Bruno Tannenbaum discovers the key to reviving his career: a cork from a “lost” vintage of Nazi wine. What follows is a fun and funny trip through cocktail parties and Bacchanalian banquets, paired with mouthwatering dishes and the perfect wines.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

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The Uncertain Hour
by Jesse Browner

Petronius, the author of the food-filled first novel “The Satyricon,” has been instructed to kill himself by Emperor Nero. THE UNCERTAIN HOUR is the beautiful tale of Petronius’s last, marvelous feast.

The Uncertain Hour
Jesse Browner

Petronius, the author of the food-filled first novel “The Satyricon,” has been instructed to kill himself by Emperor Nero. THE UNCERTAIN HOUR is the beautiful tale of Petronius’s last, marvelous feast.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

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Cooking with Fernet Branca
by James Hamilton-Paterson

A fantastic parody of the Italian food/holiday/romance novels that saturated the market in the 90s and 00s, COOKING WITH FERNET BRANCA feels as wine-soaked as its cover. Hilarious, tipsy, and over-the-top. Cook the recipes, if you dare...

Cooking with Fernet Branca
James Hamilton-Paterson

A fantastic parody of the Italian food/holiday/romance novels that saturated the market in the 90s and 00s, COOKING WITH FERNET BRANCA feels as wine-soaked as its cover. Hilarious, tipsy, and over-the-top. Cook the recipes, if you dare...

MENTIONED IN:

11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

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The Chef's Apprentice
by Elle Newmark

A Venetian street urchin winds up as the apprentice (and accomplice) of the Doge’s chef, who is also the keeper of incredible secrets. Heavenly food descriptions dot the landscape of this enchanting book.

The Chef's Apprentice
Elle Newmark

A Venetian street urchin winds up as the apprentice (and accomplice) of the Doge’s chef, who is also the keeper of incredible secrets. Heavenly food descriptions dot the landscape of this enchanting book.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

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The Last Banquet
by Jonathan Grimwood

Jean-Marie d’Aumout is desperate to know every flavor of everything in the world. Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, THE LAST BANQUET is over-the-top in the best kind of way, full of familiar historical characters, incredible feasts, and flavors—both disgusting and delicious.

The Last Banquet
Jonathan Grimwood

Jean-Marie d’Aumout is desperate to know every flavor of everything in the world. Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, THE LAST BANQUET is over-the-top in the best kind of way, full of familiar historical characters, incredible feasts, and flavors—both disgusting and delicious.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Food Novels That Will Leave You Hungry

By Crystal King | May 2, 2017

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