On essentially the first page of Dracula, Jonathan Harker enjoys a local Carpathian dish called paprika hendl. In the lavishly annotated Dracula from 1975 pictured above, Leonard Wolf provides not one, but two recipes for paprika chicken.
This represented one of my earliest encounters with the concept of annotation and also my first experience with a piece of fiction that so deliberately evoked the experience of eating a specific dish. As I mention in the post, it seems obvious to anyone who is reasonably well read that describing food and food-related activities in fiction can help to ground characters and situations, but this was the first time I recognized it as a part of the literary toolkit.
That literature should be able to relate closely to food as art is now a part of my general understanding of life. Ultimately all the arts come together, as they should, as part of the shared experience of being human. If art is an extension, commentary or heightening of the artist’s personal experience or vision, then the preparation of food must be both an aspect of other arts and often an art unto itself—food is too fundamental to the human experience to be something separate.
Anyway, check it out, there’s even a funny bit about deboning a chicken.