If food is so fundamental to life, then it is no wonder that writers have managed to use food as an essential aspect in their fiction: as plot point, setting, character development, metaphor and so on. Shakespeare had his share of food moments (Twelfth Night: “Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?”), but, sorry, the Bard didn’t make the cut for this list of the best food scenes in literature.
To wit: there’s a scene in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses that has a strange hold on me. It’s not a particularly significant moment in the novel, but it resonates. When the two young cowboys travel south to Mexico, they stop for breakfast, and one of the men “peppered his eggs till they were black.” I just love that small observation, as it so vividly brought me into their world.
But that’s just me. When I went about deciding the greatest food scenes in literature, I put together a list that is a combination of what has either moved me personally or what is more commonly accepted as part of the most memorable food moments canon. I invite you to make your own suggestions in the comments section.