I have a ton of cookbooks and I love to read informational books about food, but there’s something special to me about a personal story that incorporates recipes as part of the narrative. I love a book that makes me hungry, so anytime what I’m reading features a meal, I’m likely to try to cook it. It’s one of my (long-term) goals to make a little cookbook of recipes that were inspired by books that I’ve read, but we’ll see if I ever actually get around to doing it.
Here are some of the dishes I’ve made recently, and the books that influenced them, and a recipe I used! Some of them follow a recipe listed in the book, others just use the book as light inspiration, but I encourage everyone to play around with the food — it’s supposed to be fun!
Tahdig, inspired by Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
There are so many delicious-sounding Persian dishes mentioned in this book, but tahdig is one that I have always wanted to try, and Samin Nosrat’s recipe makes it easy for a beginner. This might be my favorite thing I’ve ever made.
Split pea soup, inspired by Still Life by Louise Penny
If you’ve read the Three Pines series, you know meals shared among the community are a central part of most of the books. This greenish-brown soup might seem like an odd choice, but it’s warm and nourishing just like Penny’s stories. Plus it’s cold in the book, and this should warm you right up!
Banana cake, inspired by Beard Science by Penny Reid
One of the characters in this romance has been made famous by her banana cake recipe, and this recipe makes a great version.
Kimchi, inspired by Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
This book is about the author’s relationship with her mother and learning to deal with her loss. She deals with this in part by cooking traditional Korean dishes that her mom made, including kimchi. This had special meaning for me because my dad lost most of his sense of taste last year but can still taste kimchi, so there was a double layer of emotion that went into preparing it.
Pozole, inspired by Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Yadriel and his family have some things that they are working through in this book, but I remember the feeling of comfort that Yadriel seemed to find in his abuelita’s cooking, and to me, this pozole ate like a big plate of love.
The Su Special, inspired by One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
No recipe for this one because the author made it up, but it’s basically a breakfast sandwich involving Texas toast, bacon, a fried egg, hot sauce and maple syrup. I tried it and it blew me away. 10/10 will make again.
There’s a very important gingerbread festival that much of this book centers around, and this cake seemed exactly like something Eve would whip up to knock everyone’s socks off.
Nesto owns a food truck in this romance novel, so I was hungry the entire time I was reading it. I made some platanos early on and snacked on them while finishing the book, and I highly recommend you do the same.
One of the love interests in this book makes “cheesy bites,” which reminded me immediately of gougeres — I made them years ago and they were absolutely delicious. They also require a little bit of technical skill, which feels right for a book about a cooking competition.
Emoni, an aspiring chef, puts together flavor combinations that other people would never dare to try to make magical dishes. This blog recreated one of her recipes from the book, and it was everything I hoped for.
Apple pie, inspired by Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu
The main character in this graphic novel is just as talented at baking as he is at hockey (and figure skating), and can often be found crafting his next pie. I picked apple because it’s a classic that can still hold some surprises, just like Bitty.
Ellen Whitfield is senior publicist at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.