Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Edible Book Festival satisfies prose and palette

Clever creations delight taste buds and literary minds alike
Samourra Rene/Daily Collegian (2023)

The sixth annual Edible Book Festival brought together literature lovers and dessert enthusiasts on Monday, April 3, at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. Librarian Annette Vadnais, the festival coordinator, rejoiced at the festival’s return to being in-person.

The Edible Book Festival is an annual international event that celebrates the intersection of literature and food, where participants create and display edible interpretations of books. The festival originated in 1999 when American art librarian Judith A. Hoffberg came up with the idea while speaking with book artists at a Thanksgiving dinner.

The artist Beatrice Coron created the website, Books2Eat, where people could share their book-inspired dishes worldwide. The festival is celebrated annually on April 1, to commemorate the birthday of French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, famous for his witty book, “Physiologie de Gout,” which translates to “Physiology of Taste.”

Attendees ate their words (literally) while enjoying the contestants’ culinary creativity and literary imagination. Participants had a chance to vote for their favorite dish with the People’s Choice award. Judges evaluated the entries based on several criteria, including hilarity, visual presentation and creative use of ingredients.


Category One: Funniest/Punniest

Kalina Kornacki/Daily Collegian (2023)

Winner: The Scarlet Galetter

Creator: Andrea Miceli

The judges were impressed with graduate accounting student Andrea Miceli’s clever and playful pun based on the classic novel, “The Scarlet Letter.” Miceli’s strawberry galette combined a golden-brown flaky crust with a sweet filling made of sliced strawberries and peaches. The syrupy strawberries and peaches burst into your mouth like fireworks, and the crust’s crunch added to the complex flavor profile. Gluttony was the only scandalous sin committed while feasting on the delicious galette.


Category Two: Visual Presentation

Kalina Kornacki/Daily Collegian (2023)

Winner: Of Spice and Ramen

Creators: Akshitha Maqtedar and Emily Larkin

This creation stood out with its bright turquoise body and electric yellow icing. Akshitha Maqtedar and Emily Larkin, sophomore biochemistry students, decorated the cake with the playful scene of two decorative mice. The yellow swirling ropes of icing symbolized ramen noodles, which hung down from two chopsticks, suspended in air as if an invisible hand was scooping up the noodles. The traditional vanilla cake, which had a soft marshmallow consistency, served as a minimalist contrast to the whimsical design.


Category Three: Most Creative Use of Ingredients

Samourra Rene/Daily Collegian (2023)

Winner: One Flew Over the Coco’s Nest

Creator: Michael Patterson

Library assistant Michael Patterson layered salted twig-like pretzels and “Pocky,” chocolate-covered biscuit candy, to form a bird’s nest structure in a nod to its book inspiration, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Chocolatey goodness reigned supreme throughout the rich frosting, which was generously studded with smooth chocolate melting wafers. The crunch of the pretzels added a nice contrast to the moist fluffiness of the dark chocolate cake.


People’s Choice

Samourra Rene/Daily Collegian (2023)

Winner: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Creator: Nick Tooker

Despite the potential of another stomachache, the very hungry caterpillar would be very satisfied with the three separate cakes created by Nick Tooker, civil and environmental engineering lecturer. These confections included a pear cake, chocolate cake and watermelon cake, which are all references to foods consumed by the caterpillar.

Tooker is a hobbyist baker and has participated in the festival for three years. When his young nieces excitedly asked him to make a cake based on the classic picture book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, he obliged.

The half-circle cakes represented the shape of the caterpillar, with each cake symbolizing a segment of the caterpillar’s body. The green gradient effect on the cake’s exterior, like that of the caterpillar in the book, showcased Tooker’s creative detail.

The watermelon cake smelled like a Victoria’s Secret body spray with notes of vanilla and watermelon. Many participants chose not to eat that cake, which was no surprise to Tooker; he said it was a smart decision not to eat what he described as “very artificial.” The pear and chocolate cake were crowd  favorites — the delicate vanilla flavor paired well with the sweetness of the pear.

Samourra Rene can be reached at [email protected].

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