Thursday, May 5, 2016

Food in books: sole with white sauce from A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Kate Young returns to Virginia Woolf for an evocative piece of food writing, rich in detail

‘There are countless writers who are guilty of just what Woolf discusses – declining to write about the meals their characters consume as they gossip, or fight, or woo.’ Photograph: Kate Young
It is a curious fact that novelists have a way of making us believe that luncheon parties are invariably memorable for something very witty that was said, or for something very wise that was done. But they seldom spare a word for what was eaten. It is part of the novelist’s convention not to mention soup and salmon and ducklings, as if soup and salmon and ducklings were of no importance whatsoever, as if nobody ever smoked a cigar or drank a glass of wine. Here, however, I shall take the liberty to defy that convention and to tell you that the lunch on this occasion began with soles, sunk in a deep dish, over which the college cook had spread a counterpane of the whitest cream, save that it was branded here and there with brown spots like the spots on the flanks of a doe. 

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