The woman who eats books

Kate Young, creator of The Little Library Kitchen and author of The Little Library Cookbook, tells us why books and food are so linked to memory and shows us how to cook three of her favourite meals from books

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By Amy Jones on

The first time Kate Young cooked something she’d initially read about in a book, it was treacle tart from Harry Potter. She was living in London and painfully homesick for her family back in Australia, so decided to cook something that would remind her of home. Not that she’d ever eaten treacle tart, you understand, but her memory of reading the books as a child was so powerful that eating food from it was enough to satiate her hunger for home.

From that day, Kate cooked one recipe a week from any number of books – Jane Eyre, Heartburn, The Princess Bride, The Miniaturist – and wrote about them on her blog, The Little Library Cafe. Unsurprisingly the combination of Kate’s delicious recipes and her passion for reading proved popular and her first book, The Little Library Cookbook, came out last week.

When we met Kate, she was keen to share with us her love of food but also her love of reading. Conversations slid easily from our thoughts on Anna Karenina (gorgeous, obviously, but we wish there'd been less farming and more sex) to our favourite restaurants (even the thought of Dishoom’s House Daahl had Kate’s mouth watering) to memories of listening to Winnie the Pooh audiobooks and back again. At the end of the day, full from illicit licks of batter, the things she’d made were so delicious that we still managed to devour the cakes, chicken and hot chocolate she’d cooked for us.

The Little Library Cookbook contains 100 recipes from books such as Moby-Dick, The Hundred and One Dalmatians and Agatha Christie. Watch the video to see Kate teach us how to make three of her favourites: chicken tarragon from Anna Karenina; hunny and rosemary cakes from Winnie the Pooh; and Chocolatl from Northern Lights.

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