Part historical discussion, part food and recipe blog, part literary fangirl-ing, Paper and Salt attempts to recreate and reinterpret the dishes that iconic authors discuss in their letters, diaries, essays, and fiction.

Nicole is a voracious consumer of both food and literature. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she currently cooks in a very small kitchen in New York City, and currently reads almost everywhere.

Email: nicolevil at gmail


120 thoughts on “About

  1. I love this.

    For my creative writing thesis in 96, I wrote “The American Literature Cookbook.” Some recipes, if I can recall …

    -Walt Whitman, “Leaves Of Lemon Grass Chicken”
    -Ben Franklin, “Thanksgiving Eagle Surprise”
    -Cotton Mather, “Meatloaf In The Hands Of An Angry God”
    -Herman Melville, “Bartelby’s Burned Boston Butt”

    Corny, sure, but I got an A. Looking forward to more recipes.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! There will be an inevitable Dickens 200 post on the UK side of things, but I admit it is quite US-centric … at least for now. Hope you enjoy =)

      Also, I noticed you wrote about Old Bay – it’s a bit of an addiction for me, and if you haven’t sprinkled it over popcorn rather than butter, try it ASAP!

  2. Fantastic site. I baked 18th century biscuits last year for a walking tour promoting one of my books. Taught me more than a week in the library. Well, to be fair my boyfriend made them, and I made notes and did a lot of tasting!

    1. It’s amazing how transporting it can be, isn’t it? I’m looking at some 1850s-era recipes now and I’m gaining a whole new understanding of that feast scene in A Christmas Carol. How were the biscuits?

      1. I love this – thanks for sharing! I’m always nervous about baking with rosewater, but now I want to try it. Especially since many of these recipes have very little (or none) of the salt we’re used to, having those strong flavors helps mitigate that.

  3. I really love the concept of this blog. I’m tweeting it! I’ll try to do some research to find out what Irish playwright J.M. Synge’s favorite food would have been. I’ve been into baking Irish soda bread ever since returning from the Aran Islands this summer. How are you going about your research? Seems like it would be quite the task! Best of luck and keep ’em coming! -Emily

    1. So far, I’ve been focusing on published letters, essays, and diaries that mention food. Most of them do, at some point, although it’s rarer to find full recipes – but you can get a sense of the dish and try to recreate it that way. There are also a surprising number of recipes in library collections of private papers – things that people accumulated over the years of cooking, and that got preserved with everything else (luckily enough!).

  4. irem gLmz


    I couldn’t find an e-mail adress to contact you.
    Can you please contact me from this adress?

    I’m the editor of a poetry site. I’d like to recount your blog on our site and our social media pages. Thank you.

  5. Robin-Taine

    will be bookmarking your site immediately! I love to read, I love to cook, I love to eat. I love to read books about food. Tackling food as inspired by books and authors is a terrific concept for a blog and I’m excited to have found you. Will be back often!

  6. Lisa-Marie Haugmoen

    I loved the concept and the work you’ve done to research all the information. You should do a combination cookbook/short biography/ with photos, copies of letters etc. I would be first in line to get a copy. I loved the idea of making and eating the same food as the literary heroes of my life! Cudos!

    1. Funny you should mention the coconut cake – it’s one of the first things that got me thinking about starting this blog! In my experiments with it, I found it to be a little too dry and dense for me. I hadn’t read that part about dipping in the sherry, though. Makes a lot of sense! Do you have any photos of your cake?

  7. Michelle

    What a great concept for a blog, thank you. Would you consider setting up a feed (RSS or Atom) for it? I’ve gotten so used to reading everything through my feed reader that I’m afraid I would forget to check for new posts otherwise (curse my Web2.0 attention span!).

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I believe if you plug in “http://www.paperandsalt.org/feed” into your RSS reader, it should start updating with new posts. But let me know if that doesn’t work and I’ll investigate!

  8. Hi Nicole, Great blog, really enjoyed reading through your posts. I now intend to eat like a famous writer every lunch and dinner time for the rest of the month.

    My day job is community coordinator for the Guardian.co.uk/culture and I think our books site readers would enjoy your blog. Do drop me an email or tweet (@Hannah_Freeman) if you’d like to discuss. Thanks!

  9. Hi! I came across your blog via CRAFT and I feel compelled to visit your tasty place. I’m so happy to see fellow bloggers that share the same passions for literature and food as I do. Lovely!

  10. I love the premise of your blog…great concept in combining literature and food (a nice combination to enjoy simultaneously). It will be interesting to learn through your blog what dishes inspire certain writers — I like to discover different things about writers — other than just their writing. For example, I learned recently that Nabakov was also a curator of butterflies.

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  12. Hooo boy. Where to start. Let’s just that I’m here to stay for a while. I finished reading all your posts…yes, all. From the start. And I’m loving it here! Looking forward to more.

    1. Thank you, and likewise! Mango and chocolate cupcakes – why haven’t I done that before? And here I have some mango and chocolate just sitting in my kitchen. Can’t wait to make them!

    1. Oh, how cool! Thanks for letting me know, and for the link. You version of a Scotch Egg looks delicious. I’ve been looking up some recipes for Jane as well. Will let you know how they turn out!

  13. Suzanne Reece

    Saw the Agatha Christie headline on the Bon Appetit website and followed your link in the article, interesting blog, thanks!

  14. Deborah houy

    Love to read, love to eat, love to eat while reading, so I love this site! My favorite novelist, Iris Murdoch, famously lost a pork pie in her incredibly cluttered kitchen; she never found it. So Iris’s pork pie would be a welcome recipe. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for reading, Deborah! That’s hilarious – it makes me feel much better about the state of my own kitchen. I haven’t found an errant pork pie in it yet – but now I will have to make one!

  15. Sue

    Hi! My name is Sue, and I’m from SlimKicker, a fitness/diet app and online website. I found your blog a few days ago and it captured my interest!

    I’m contacting you b/c we’re about to release a fitness tracker (similar to FitBit) early next year, and are looking for bloggers who would be interested in getting 1 for free to review when it is out (negative or positive).

    Would you be interested in doing this? You can email me at: sue (at) slimkicker (com) with ‘Review’ in the email heading if you are.

    In case you don’t know, our online website SlimKicker basically turns your fitness/diet goals into a fun level-up game. The tracker will work in conjunction the website, and allow people to track calories burned and number of steps they walk automatically. The more they exercise, the more points they rack up! That’s basically how it will work.

    Anyway, hope to hear back either way…

    – Sue
    P.S. You can choose not to display this comment as this is more of a private comment 🙂

  16. Melanie (Meredith) Passovoy

    Read a blurb about your blog in today’s Sacramento Bee and decided to check it out on the chance that you are the one and same Nicole who was my student at La Entrada in 1996-97. I am pretty sure it is you! I love the posts that I have read so far.

  17. I am so pleased you wrote about Virginia Woolf. I am “sharing” it on my blog, with information about your blog. I am a writer who has taught courses on literature and food, and I am a fan of both, as you are! Thank you!

  18. I was very impressed through the depth of knowledge you chose to share listed here.
    Thanks for taking the time to write down such an insightful
    and educational piece

  19. cdotnguyen

    What a wonderful find on this chilly day in Melbourne-town. I think your writing is delightful and delicious! Thanks for sharing with the world!

  20. Amy D.

    A friend just recommended your blog. I have spent an unhealthy portion of my day reading and rereading it. Thank you for providing such a splendid way to spend the day. I am looking forward to reading (and rereading) more and insisting that others do so as well.

  21. Hi Nicole, great blog! I’m from Australia … a writer and bookaholic who’s also a foodie, so we’ve got a bit in common. Am in the process of setting up my own blog combining books and food, although a different concept to yours. Well done.

  22. A good friend just sent me a link to your blog, and I love it! As an English major and literature PhD, these posts are sparkling and delightful and I know I’ll be back for more! I wish I’d known about your site when I held a literature-inspired potluck party a few years ago…

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  27. Hi Nicole, great blog. I really enjoy your posts. I am really impressed by how you manage to generate such engagement and lots of comments. I have a blog which is fairly new and am wondering how to generate more interest and comments. I guess it takes a while to get established but wondered if you had any hints to share?

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Anne! I wish I had some no-fail advice, but I mainly reached out to a few blogs I really love and that I thought might enjoy the combination of authors and food. They were kind enough to share it with their readers, and that’s how it really got started. Hope that helps!

      1. Hi Nicole,
        Thanks for the advice. I’ll work on the reaching out and sharing idea and hopefully that will pay off in the long run. All the best with your blogging.

  28. yko

    l am really interested in the concept of this blog. Hello. I’m an associate professor of American literature in Japan. My reseach focuses on the late nineteen and early twenty century American literature, intersection of the culture of urban, country, and literature. And, my current reseach topic is the intersection of the history of American food culutre and literature. I have a great interest in the relationship between the role of cook and gender in American literature, and in how food culture reflects the reality of American society. Thinking of that, I also vace an interest in cook books as a genre of literature.
    I was very happy when I found this web site and know the project.
    For my reserach, I would like to know some information about not only cook books published in America, but also about essays and thesises about the relationship between American food cultue and literature, or about the intersetion of cooking, gender, and hstory of American society.
    I would greatly appreciate when you could give me some information of that if you have resources of the essays .
    Thank you very much.

  29. So pleased to have discovered your site – there was a write up in our Sunday paper. I love food-lit and food movies – in fact anything food! Look forward to your posts, in the meantime I know I am going to enjoy reading the archives.

  30. love the concept. cant wait to read more into it and see what comes next. is there a way to receive emails when you post something new? i cant find a way to follow you outside of facebook, pinterest, and twitter.

  31. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more
    than just your articles? I mean, what you say is important and everything.

    Nevertheless imagine if you added some great
    images or videos to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with pics and video clips, this blog could certainly be one of the very best in its niche.
    Very good blog!

  32. Alex

    Incredible work – a celebration of perhaps the two most inherent (and great) binding forces of humanity, food and knowledge. I look forward to keeping up!

  33. Great blog! I see you haven’t posted for a while but hope you will resume soon. Do you know the book “The Joyce of Cooking?” It has recipes for much of the food mentioned in Joyce’s books. I used it when I threw a Bloomsday dinner party years ago–it was great fun!

  34. misenplacememoir

    Great blog for us appreciators of food and literature. On your Pinterest board (love this too) for writer’s hangouts you should add the Green Parrot in Key West for Ernest Hemmingway…

  35. Hello Nicole,

    My friend Amy and I have been running a rather similar blog for a whilte now, and we have just come across yours! Basically we pick recipes from our favourite books and reproduce them, and then contextualize them within the plot/poem/play/etc. … We would love your feedback on our blog, since it seems you have been doing this for much longer than we have 🙂 If you ever had the time to visit us, you can find us at nicoandamysliterarykitchen.wordpress.com !

    It is great to see more people are interested in food AND literature out there!

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  38. Alessandra Cantini

    Amazing blog, fully displays the passion a woman must have to leave remarkable kitchen aromas and the pride of transmitting to other generations. Sadly less and less women are proud to show how beautiful it is to awe their men with home made delicacies…

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