Good taste in books: Butcher writes recipes inspired by great literature

The Brooklyn Paper
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She’s eating her words.

A Williamsburg butcher and literature blogger has created a book of recipes torn from the pages of her favorite books. The author of “Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books” will read from the book’s essays and serve samples of its recipes at Greenlight Bookstore on Aug. 18.

Cara Nicoletti’s book features dishes a simple as an ice cream sundae — taken from a “Nancy Drew” mystery — and as daunting as a pig’s head porchetta — inspired by “Lord of the Flies.” She hopes her readers will take a stab at all of the page-to-table recipes.

“I don’t want to waste my time perfecting a recipe for something that people don’t want to eat,” says Nicoletti. “Though some would argue that no one will make that pig’s head porchetta, I think they should, because it’s actually really delicious.”

She has no system for choosing recipes, she says, instead responding to written repasts as she encounters them.

“Most of the time, it’s that I’m reading a book and I see a food scene and I want to recreate it,” she said. “Some of the time, I’ll be in the market and I’ll see a food that will remind me of a book, so I’ll go back and find it.”

Some of the book’s recipes began on Nicoletti’s blog “Yummy Books,” which evolved out of Nicoletti’s book club. She typically ended each meeting with a meal inspired by that session’s book, and the dishes were such as hit that her friends eventually set her up with a blog.

Nicoletti credits her culinary bent to her family and her heritage.

“I grew up around food,” she said. “I’m Jewish and Italian, I think both sides are really food-driven. We ate dinner together every night, we all cooked together, so it was a big part of growing up.”

Her work as a butcher also comes from her family — she is the granddaughter of a butcher. However, traditional butcher shops refused to take on a female apprentice.

“They’re like my grandpa, they don’t want to see a young girl cutting meat, it’s not what’s in their head as something appropriate,” Nicoletti explained.

Instead, she wound up at new butcher shop in her Williamsburg neighborhood.

“I came into the Meat Hook, which had opened a few months before, and the owner Brent said ‘Yeah you can come in tomorrow,’ so I came in the next day and didn’t leave for five years,” she said.

Nicoletti has taken a break from butchery to promote “Voracious,” but she hopes that she will be able to split her time between writing and meat-carving.

“People keep wanting me to choose,” she said, “but I think I’ll always have to do both.”

Voracious” reading at Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene (718) 246–0200,] Aug. 18, 7:30 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Harry MacCormack at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @HMacBKPaper.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse says:
I'm very interested in reading the stories in which most recipes were collected, because they look incredibly exciting.
April 27, 2018, 6:41 am
writing paper from says:
You are so inspiring writer that I want to cook something good and it will be good to know more about your profession.
May 31, 2018, 4:42 am

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