Annual Edible Book Festival combines food with fiction
At this year’s Edible Books Festival, a princess slept upon a bed of marble pound cake and chocolate swirl cake.
The princess was part of one entry at the second annual “Eat Your Words!: An Edible Book Festival,” held yesterday at Alexander Library on the College Avenue campus. The event featured art made of food that represents the participant’s favorite book. All New Jersey residents are eligible to enter.
Sherrilynn Novack, senior public relations specialist for the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, created the princess out of milk, dark chocolate and pretzels to represent the fairytale, “The Princess and the Pea.”
All entries in the festival represented the title of a book creatively with an arrangement of different foods. Judges considered five categories: puniest, best book structure, most edible, least edible and public choice.
Megan Lotts, an art librarian at Rutgers, made P.D. Eastman’s children’s tale “Go, Dog. Go!” into an edible story. The piece featured a hot dog with four wheels, appropriately named “Go, Hot Dog, Go.”
The piece “Vegan Yum Yum” represented the structural and physical form of an actual book. Emily Knowles, a Mason Gross School of the Arts sophomore, said she heard about the festival through her book-making class, an elective for her visual arts major.
“I was very inspired by the idea of what is considered structurally sound as a book,” she said. “I really wanted something that could only be here for a couple of hours or so.”
Knowles’ edible book was composed of a book made from red cabbage, Swiss chard and a banana peel. Knowles was drawn to her materials by the beautiful contrast of the purple-red cabbage against the green Swiss chard.
Knowles said the edible book was kind of difficult to make and encompassed a lot of trial and error.
Lotts ran and organized the event. It is Lotts’ job to provide reference and instruction services to the Departments of Art History, Visual Arts and Landscape Architecture.
“I think it opens up the meaning about what is a book,” she said.
Lotts said the event reminds people that a lot of special books in the library are not electronic. Many forget the cultural importance of the library.
People’s lives and relationships with reading have changed, Lotts said. Often people do reading with a Nook or a Kindle, but she predicts physical books will always be part of our lives.
“You wouldn’t give your child your Nook to read from,” she said. “You want them to see the art and the prettiness of the story.”
In the sciences, information changes quickly, so a hard copy would not be able to keep up with current material, Lotts said. But she believes the arts and humanities need actual, physical books to research and to learn.
In the same respect, making things and being creative is something that both fields can appreciate.
“Why does hanging artwork on your refrigerator have to stop?” Lotts asked. “We’re all making things.”
Laura Palumbo, a chemistry and physics librarian, attended the Edible Books Festival to perform a molecular gastronomy demonstration. She said science explores how different food-safe chemicals can change food texture.
She suspended a mixture of yogurt, milk and calcium octoate in a sodium alginate bath to create a spherical membrane out of the yogurt with a liquid center. This demonstrated her belief that chemistry could be performed outside of a laboratory.
Lotts said the demonstration is an example of how creativity can make arts and sciences collide.
“People are just so creative. Look at what some people can do with materials. It’s pretty amazing,” Lotts said.