What do you get when you mix food, literature and puns? Edible books, and it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke. About 50 participants and curious onlookers spent the afternoon of Sunday, April 1, checking out literary references created with food. When it was over, they ate them. The book-eating party was hosted by Salt City Book Arts and Szozda Gallery, 501 W. Fayette St.
Entrants were encouraged to be creative and take liberty with the concept. Food was shaped like books, sculpted to replicate a book’s cover art and used for tongue-in-cheek jokes. You may have read Of Mice And Men, but have you eaten Of Mice And Clem(entines)? For many reasons, the novels of John Steinbeck were a popular choice, most notably a stack of tortillas with cilantro binding with carrot shavings atop that spelled out Tortilla Flat.
Just because the books were edible did not mean they were tasty. The selection of ingredients used to decorate or create some of books was based on utility more than flavor. Then again, maybe gummy worms and cream cheese are your thing. Those were the ingredients spread between two layers of crackers for a more literal interpretation of Diet of Worms, usually a reference to a religious tract by Martin Luther. Back in 1521, “diet” referred to a religious assembly, which was held in Worms, Germany. Dear readers, literary love was afoot.
The event was the brainchild of Carrie Valenzuela, a letterpress printer at Boxcar Press who also binds books, real books. Edible book parties have been popular among book nerds since the early 1990s, but this seemed to be a Syracuse first, says Valenzuela. Beyond the works already on display, crafts and artwork by local artists were raffled off during the event to raise funds for Szozda Gallery.
Eventually, the knives came out and after a little hesitation, books
were sliced. Cake creations, and yes, even the pastry-like mice, were readily
consumed. The gummy worms among cream cheese had a lot more staying power,
especially since few were tempted to try out the combo. It seems the book
lovers were content to judge an edible book by its cover.