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    Nosh a novel at the pun-filled Edible Book Festival.

    James Folta

    April 1, 2024, 10:00am

    If you’ve ever loved a book so much that you wanted to eat it, or driven your loved ones crazy with puns, The Edible Book Festival might be for you.

    The festival started in 2000 and has expanded into many, loosely affiliated annual events, all taking place around April 1st. Created by librarian and writer Judith Hoffberg and artist Béatrice Caron, the concept is intended to be flexible and open-source: the only rule is to make and celebrate book-related, edible art.

    Though spiritually linked to April Fool’s Day, the event was inspired by the April 1st birthday of Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a 19th-century French writer who really liked food. He wrote the 1825 Physiologie du goût, credited with popularizing if not creating the food essay. I flipped through an 1854 translation and found chapters like “Erratic Virtues of Truffles,” “A Lady Gourmand” and “Duty of the Stomach”—no recipes, but lots of aphorisms and anecdotes that will help the discerning snacker vibe better with their dinner. The book’s most famous phrase is “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are,” but I was struck by the punchier, “None but adepts know what a pheasant is.”

    Brillat-Savarin’s love of food and literature inspired the Edible Book Festival, which celebrates with dishes made to look like books, dishes related to a particular book, and most of all, dishes built around book puns.

    I’m partial to the more abstract folios, like “Pages of Peas,” an Australian book of bound pea pods, but the puns are much more popular. A Seattle festival featured “Anne of Green Bagels,” “Challah-ver’s Twist,” and “The Decline and Fall of the Ramen Empire.” And at UC Berkeley Library’s 2018 Festival there was a row of gravy-filled teacups called “Gravy Teas Rainbow,” and 2019 entries included “The Communist Antipasto,” “Fifty Shades of Grey Poupon,” and “Infinite Zest”—a plate of citrus trapped between two, infinitely reflecting mirrors.

    If you can’t find a festival near you, why not celebrate on your own? Personally, I’ll be having some Joyce Carol Oatesmeal for breakfast with a hot mug of Maltea Falcon, and for lunch, I’ll be leafing through an OBLT (Octavia Butler’s Literature’s Terrific).

    Sorry for all the puns, and happy Edible Book Fest!

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