Students create culinary literature
The usual library quiet was disrupted on March 24th, when a crowd of people surrounded 22 books made of everything from green tea cheesecake to a white and blue frosted cake shaped like a shark head.
The SBCC Luria Library, School of Culinary Arts and Hotel Management and the SBCC Great Books Program hosted the second “SBCC Edible Books Festival” competition. This festival is held annually around the world at schools and libraries around April 1st, the birthday of French writer Jean-Anthelme Brillat- Savarin, famous for his book “Physiologie du gout,” a witty reflection on food.
Elizabeth Bowman, the Outreach and Collection Development Librarian at City College got the idea to have this event last year from a friend who is a professor in Chicago. Bowman brought the festival to City College’s Luria Library last year and replicated it again, this semester.
Bowman said she wanted to welcome everybody and for them to maybe see the library “in another light.”
“Libraries are very threatening to some people,” Bowman said. “Whenever I hear anything that’s going on, on campus, I try and reflect it here.”
The competition was open to all faculty, staff and students. The only rules were to create something edible that looks, acts or is a pun on a book.
This year the edibles varied from a Harry Potter book, a detailed cake of a “quidditch” field alongside a basket of chocolate frogs, to “War and Peace” tilted “War and Peeps,” made out of yellow and pink Peeps. Whether it was detailed, tasty, or just for a laugh, each book was unique in its creativity.
“We have a lot of people here who are kind of secret readers,” Bowman said. “This is a way they could demonstrate that.”
About half of the participants were culinary students, and there was amazing technical work and skill level on display, Bowman said. The four judges-one a student, one an alumni who owns his own restaurant, and two city college English professors- had a tough decision on awarding the prizes, she added.
“The one I had a sentimental favorite for was ‘In Cold Blood,” said Homer Arrington, a judge in the competition and an English teacher at City College.
Ironically, Truman Capote’s nonfiction murder novel, “In Cold Blood,” won honorable mention for Most Humorous. The dessert was created by first semester culinary arts student, Leslie Arnette. Her book was displayed as a bowl of chilled strawberry soup made with a hint of apple juice served with whipped cream and a mint leaf. Surrounding a bittersweet soup was dry ice.
“I thought it would be a good play on words,” Arnette said. “I thought it would be fun.”
Winners were announced to each of the five categories at the end of the two-hour event. The winners received food or cookbook-related prizes. Best in Show was awarded to “Jungle Book,” a chocolate cream cheese cake. Most like a Book was a tie between “Arabian Nights” and “Fast,” made from gingerbread. Most Tasty went to a Dr. Seus book made from strawberry butter cream, “Oh The Places You’ll Go.” Most Humorous was “Jaws” and Judge’s Choice was “Broken Wings.”
Bowmen described this year as a success and said she was pleased with all of the coverage and support the library event received. About 50 students, faculty, and family of participants tucked themselves in to a small crowd in the back of the library to view and sample the edible books. Bowman socialized and served the food during the event.
“I hope it’s going to draw on some particular book or love of reading or some creativity,” Bowman said. “On a simple level to offer people food. It sort of comforts people.”