Holly Ebel: These books are food for thought

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The Rochester Public Library will host this event from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the library auditorium. It is a unique event that celebrates a book, character, poem or title in edible form, however the contestant chooses to do it and not necessarily cooked.

Library co-chairs Keri Ostby and Katherine Stecher explain that it’s about combining books with food, but with a creative twist, maybe like taking off a title. An example taken from a previous competition: “20,000 legumes under the peas”, a seascape made from dried beans. Other entrees were designed using everything from candy to cheese.

Now in its third year, the event continues to attract more interest and admissions each year. Ostby explained, “It’s open to everyone in the community and it’s a great opportunity for people to be creative. There is no entry fee, and although we would love to know about how much to expect, you can just show up at noon on Saturday. We just like having an account for setup and refreshments. “The public is invited and encouraged to vote for their favorites.

Last year there were 20 entries in eight award categories. These include the People’s Choice – last year’s winner was the Hogwarts crest made from jelly beans, made by Hannah and Amy Liebl. There’s Judges’ Choice – Adult: The winner was “20,000 Legumes” by Paul Van Dellen. In Judge’s Choice – Youth (5-12 years old), Srithan Seetamsetty won with an interpretation of the book cover “The Snowy Day”.

Other categories include multiple artists, smartest, businesses or organizations, and library staff and their families.

None of the entrees are meant to be eaten, just admired.

Winners receive gift certificates from sponsors such as Bravo Espresso, Creative Cuisine Cooperation, Chocolaterie Stam, The Loop, Thyme Restaurant, Victoria’s Ristorante and Bar and the Friends of the Rochester Library.

So who came up with this smart idea? In fact, you might be surprised to learn that this is a global competition started in 2000 by two friends, Judith A. Hoffberg, from California, and Beatrice Coron, a New Yorker.

At a Thanksgiving gathering with artist friends in 1999, they came up with the concept of food celebrating a book. Their inspiration was an 1825 publication, “Physiologie du Gout” (“La Physiologie du Goût”), by foodie Jean-Antheime Brillat-Savarin, a humorous meditation on food with many pithy maxims. It was he, in fact, who wrote: “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

The two ladies had a few stipulations. The event was to take place on April 1 or as close to the date as possible, since it was Brillat-Savarin’s birthday. (In fact, April Fool’s Day is a good day to play with food.) All entries should be “bookish” through the integration of text or literary inspiration. They should also send a link to their photo album or post photos on Facebook so that it can be viewed and the inspiration and fun shared.

To see what has been done or for inspiration, visit one of these sites: www.library.illinois.edu/ediblebooks or www.books2eat.com.

If you would like to participate or get more information, go to www.rochesterpubliclibrary.org or drop by the library.


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