"As I finished that first bite, as that first impression faded, I felt a subtle shift inside, an unexpected reaction." Rose Edelstein, the charming heroine of Aimee Bender's novel, feels this internal "shift" after biting into the chocolate lemon cake her mother has made in honor of her ninth birthday. The first manifestation of the young girl's odd ability to taste the emotions and moods of the makers, bakers, and preparers of foods, the titular lemon cake is the haunting occasion for the novel.
We, along with Rose, quickly realize that she can sense not only her mother's feelings, but the emotions of anyone who has touched the food she consumes. Their sadness and joy, happiness and agony: all their feelings are instantly divinable by the precocious Rose. "Food is full of feelings
," she declares rather hopelessly one evening when...
Beyond the Book
Novelists are rarely famous for their culinary descriptions. While food is often only the necessary garnish on an emotional or provocative scene, there are a few writers whose fictional foods have left readers salivating. Modernism gave us the memory-inducing madeleine of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past
and the triumphantly-perfect boeuf en daube
of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse
, but more recently novelists have turned their attention from fictional to nonfiction foods.
Barbara Kingsolver's experiment in eating locally produced her...