Historical Fiction for Foodies

I love when food is featured prominently in historical fiction! It lets me vicariously feast on pheasants, lampreys, mulberry gin, and any number of other things that are tough to fit into my daily meals.

Here are a few intriguing historical fiction books centered around food:


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John Saturnall’s Feast by Laurence Norfolk

A 17th-century orphan is taken in by a local manor, where he rises from kitchen boy to head cook. When the lord’s daughter protests her arranged marriage by goes on a hunger strike, it becomes the cook’s duty to tempt her into eating by cooking scrumptious feasts.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

A renowned English chef is kidnapped by a ruthless pirate named Mad Hannah Mabbot. She promises to spare the chef’s life, as long as he provides her with an excellent meal every week. Eventually, romance strikes! …I’m dying to try the two delicacies mentioned in the official synopsis: tea-smoked eel and pineapple-banana cider.

The Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony Capella

Set in London at the turn of the 19th century, this book tells the story of an impoverished poet who categorizes coffee for a coffee merchant. The merchant has three daughters, and… romance strikes!



Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Nomadic chocolate-making lady and daughter move to small town, cause hubbub. I’ve only seen the 2000 movie based on this novel, but apparently there are also 2 other books in this series: The Girl with No Shadow and Peaches for Father Francis.

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

(More Joanne Harris! Clearly she loves both France and food.) Long after the miseries of WWII, a woman returns to her village home, where she explores both her mother’s recipes and memories of the tormented past.

White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelby

A fictionalized account of the life of influential chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935).



The Wedding Officer: A Novel of Culinary Seduction by Anthony Capella

It’s WWII, and the British have occupied Naples. In their concern that soldiers might fraternize too much with the local girls, they task a captain with discouraging marriages to Italian girls. The captain meets a young widow with a passion for cooking, and romance strikes! (Because of course it does.)

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark

In Renaissance-era Venice, a chef and his apprentice get roped into plots and conspiracies beyond their control.

Tomato Rhapsody: A Story of Love, Lust, and Forbidden Fruit by Adam Schell

In 15th-century Tuscany, a Jewish tomato farmer and a Catholic girl meet… and romance strikes! Apparently the characters speak in rhyme. Also, Goodreads reviews say things like “there is a lot of donkey penis in this book,” which might or might not be a good thing.

Evidently, foodie fiction really loves romance.

Seriously, half of the relevant books I found were romance-heavy. I guess focusing on one sensory experience leads easily to focusing on others…

…Writing this post on an empty stomach was not a good plan.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read any of these. And let me know if you’ve got recommendations for more historical fiction centered around food!

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  • Reply Cait @ Paper Fury February 2, 2016 at 1:54 am

    OMG I FEEL SUCH KINSHIP TO THIS POST I CAN’T EVEN. I mean, I haven’t read any of these!?!? But now I seriously want to. xD Foodie fiction is my FAVOURITE. Although it makes me want to eat the book. ah. These unfortunate side affects…
    Here’s my TTT!
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Historical Retellings I Want To Read But That Don’t Exist (Seriously, How Rude)My Profile

  • Reply Resh Susan February 2, 2016 at 3:04 am

    You have made me hungry!!!!!
    Resh Susan recently posted…Book Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret AtwoodMy Profile

  • Reply Lianne @ February 2, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Ooh, great approach to this week’s topic! You are the first blogger to have mentioned Capella’s The Various Flavours of Coffee; I read that book years ago and yeah, never saw it mentioned around the book blogosphere xD I’ve been meaning to read Chocolat; I know the book is a bit different from the movie but the premise sounds fantastic 🙂

    Laura Esquival’s Like Water for Chocolate is a historical read that comes to mind that also centres around food 🙂
    Lianne @ recently posted…Top Ten TuesdaysMy Profile

  • Reply Ashley @ BookishRealmReviews February 2, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Great post! There were quite a few of them I’ve never heard of and I did not realize that Chocolat was a series! haha I guess that’s what I get for just watching the movie. And now I’m off to find food because I read this post on an empty stomach.
    Ashley @ BookishRealmReviews recently posted…Top 10 Tuesday: Historical SettingsMy Profile

  • Reply Heather February 2, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    I’d write something interesting here, but I’m too busy thinking about all the food I want to eat right now. I read Chocolat years ago and I really loved it, but I’m pretty sure I always felt like eating chocolate while I was reading it…
    I read some Italian detective fiction a couple of years ago that was set in Florence. Not only was the story great, but the detective always went home for lunch; he and his family always had the most amazing lunches – pasta, stuffed zucchini flowers, basically the best lunches ever, with wine. It made me want to move to Florence and be a detective, just to go home at lunch time.
    Heather recently posted…Reading Challenge Update // January 2016My Profile

  • Reply Aentee February 2, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Oooo I love this post so much, especially because you name so many books not often mentioned on the blogosphere. Food is love, so I am not surprised to hear that food books go hand in hand with romantic books.

  • Reply Catherine February 2, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you, I love this combination of fiction- and that you divided it by country. I thought White Truffles was gorgeous food writing.

  • Reply Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight February 2, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    I love your twist on the topic! And I love that you separated them by country since I really enjoy reading books set in other countries. I’ve seen Chocolat, but I had no idea it was a book. That is interesting that you noticed foodie books tend to have a lot of romance, but I suppose it does make sense. Great list!
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Historical Fantasy Books I’ve ReadMy Profile

  • Reply Jemma February 3, 2016 at 3:41 am

    I love ‘Chocolat’, both the book and the movie. I’m definitely going to read the second book in that series, as I have it knocking around somewhere. Lovely feature, but it has also made me hungry!

  • Reply Lauren @ Always Me February 4, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    I am adding Cinnamon and Gunpowder to my tbr right now! 🙂

    Check out my TTT.
    Lauren @ Always Me recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Historical Fiction NovelsMy Profile

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