Meals Recreated From 9 Famous Books

RISD alum recreates and photographs fictional meals, from Caulfield’s Swiss cheese sandwich to Alice’s tea party.

When described right, food in literature can be as memorable and enchanting as the characters themselves. For Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals, designer and writer Dinah Fried recreated 50 famous novelistic feasts and beautifully photographed them.


Fictitious Dishes began as a small design project when Fried was a student at Rhode Island School of Design. After cooking, styling, and photographing meals from five of her favorite novels, she got hooked on the process. She even photographed a heap of detritus for the garbage meal from Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and a burnt kidney from Joyce’s Ulysses. “It smelled very pungent,” Fried tells Co.Design.

The Secret Garden

“I have several favorites,” Fried says, “mostly from books that I read and loved as a child, like the melted cheese on bread from Heidi, the roasted potatoes and eggs from The Secret Garden, and Meg’s failed attempt at making current jelly, in Little Women,” Fried tells Co.Design. As a design student, Fried didn’t cut corners when making these imaginary feasts–she included cutlery, placemats, tablecloths, and dishes that impeccably match those described in the books. It’s these design details that so powerfully channel the atmosphere these writers created through language.

“The most difficult dishes to create were ones from The Great Gatsby, Madame Bovary, and Rebecca, because the feasts described were so ornate and over-the-top,” Fried says. “I was conscious of picking and choosing what from the text to include in the photo, and adding in imagined details that would help create the ambiance that the narratives conveyed so perfectly.”

The series pays homage to how fictional meals can satisfy the taste buds of readers’ imaginations in ways that can be as delicious as the real thing. “Just as reading great novels can transport you to another time and place, meals–good and bad ones alike–can conjure scenes very far away from your kitchen table,” Fried writes in the book’s introduction. “As a voracious reader, I devour my favorite books.”

Fictitious Dishes is available from Harper Design for $13.25.

[h/t Brain Pickings]


About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.