Author Interview with Alison Walsh
Ever wonder what the desserts at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party might taste like? Thanks to Alison, wonder no more. Her first cookbook, A Literary Tea Party answers the question of “what would a cookbook look like when written by someone obsessed with classic literature?”
How did your book “A Literary Tea Party” come about?
About 9 years ago, I started Alison’s Wonderland Recipes, a food blog dedicated to recipes from classic literature. I’ve always loved reading and developed a love of cooking too, so the blog was a fun way to bring those interests together. Three years later, Skyhorse Publishing approached me about writing a cookbook. I’m passionate about tea, so we decided to draw on that and create A Literary Tea Party.
What is your favorite recipe in A Literary Tea Party?
All the desserts (I have a major sweet tooth!). It’s hard to pick a favorite. Maybe the Lavender Lemon Eclairs from The Secret Garden? I also loved working on the homemade tea blends at the back of the book. I think Abbot’s Chocolate Hazelnut Tea from Redwall might be my favorite.
You have a list of themed tea party ideas, which made me aware that there seems to be certain books that are very food forward.
Yes, absolutely! Some books, like the Redwall series, are famous for their food. Food is also a powerful literary device in a lot of classic books, even ones we wouldn’t consider “food books.” One of my favorite examples is the Crachit family feast in A Christmas Carol. Their dinner is modest, but what Scrooge truly hungers for is love, which the Crachits have in abundance. I love how Dickens uses the juxtaposition of material and immaterial wealth in that scene.
Tell me about A Literary Holiday Cookbook
After the success of A Literary Tea Party, my publisher asked me if I wanted to write another book. I really liked the idea of a holiday-themed book for two reasons. The first is that it gave me an opportunity to push my cooking skills and make more formal, elaborate recipes than I normally would. The second is that I love Halloween recipes, so I wanted an excuse to make as many as possible!
What are you working on now (or most recently)?
I just released A Literary Picnic, an e-cookbook of picnic recipes. It has 5 menus with 5 recipes each, and every menu is inspired by a different classic book. It’s available now on my blog and Amazon!
What is your favorite kind of recipe to create?
I really enjoy playing with flavor combinations. My latest cookbook has a Winnie-the-Pooh recipe for Honey Clementine Cupcakes, and they’re topped with marzipan bees flavored with orange blossom. Coming up with the perfect combo of honey, citrus, and almond for that recipe was so fun!
What drives your passion of literature?
I’ve devoured stories ever since I was a small child, long before I could read (many thanks to my parents for the hours they spent reading to me). As a kid, I loved books because they allowed me to experience the fantastic—talking mice, fairies, and magical lands through wardrobes. As I got older, I came to appreciate that books let me explore the depths of human experience and examine universal truths. As much as I still love the fantastical elements of stories, I’ve come to appreciate the realities inside them even more.
What are you reading now?
I’m just about to start Brother Wolf by Eleanor Bourg Nicholson. It’s a gothic mystery novel about a Franciscan werewolf. I love gothic lit, and I’m a big fan of her previous book, A Bloody Habit. I can’t wait to get started.
What is your all-time favorite book?
That’s a tough one! I’m not sure I have a favorite book. Agatha Christie is my favorite author, so it’s probably something by her. And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express are definitely high on the list.
Where can our readers find you?