“Of Mice and Men” is a classic book on many people’s shelves, but rarely does it take the form of a staple college dish.
So it appeared at the Kelly Writers House’s annual Edible Books Party last night under the name, “Of Rice and Ramen.” The dish consisted of a small bowl of rice and a larger bowl of noodles, representing the novel’s famous duo, and won the prize for “Most Delicious.”
For its third consecutive year, the Writers House has made literature more palatable to a curious audience of food- and book-lovers alike. Jessica Lowenthal, who coordinated the event, called in English professor Jed Esty, food writer and journalism professor Rick Nichols and the Institute of Contemporary Art’s Grace Ambrose to form “the perfect panel … to judge according to interest, passion and expertise,” she explained.
The entries ranged from a pyramid of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans, representing Proust’s (Un)Remembrance of Things Pabst — the “Un” added after the cans quenched the two contestants’ thirst — to an elaborate pepperoni house called “To The Smokehouse,” playing on the novel by Virginia Woolf. These won the “People’s Choice” and “Most Architectural” awards respectively.
Among the finalists was also a vegetable quiche capped with a paper windmill and a horse made out of a PowerBar and cotton swabs. The piece was called “Don Quichote” and received the award for “Best Pun.”
As in the last two years’ competitions, wordplay featured heavily in all the entries. Nichols was impressed by the turnout and the “genuine wit” displayed by the contestants. One of whom, for example, left dough to rise in a bowl and called it “Waiting for Good-dough.”
Most participants entered the lighthearted contest because the love “of cooking and reading is a winning combination,” College freshman Molly Collett said. For her entry, Collett brought in a minimalistic loaf of bread and added a speech bubble with the words, “You’re all phony,” in the spirit of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Others, like College sophomore Kristen Kelly, used this event to blow off some steam, after finding herself “stress-baking with midterms.”
The Edible Books Party encouraged people not only to top pretzels with cream cheese and olives and name the dish “Olive ‘ver Twist,” but also to “recognize all the pleasures we have with books that aren’t necessarily the first thing we talk about,” Lowenthal said.