Austin Edible Book Festival brings out flavor of literature

Yvonne Marquez

A cupcake shelf that held tiny multicolored books made of fig-filled cookies won the “Best in Show” category at an edible book festival.

About 50 people browsed through the creative entries at the ninth-annual Austin Edible Book Festival on Friday. The entries must be book-related, and all the materials must be consumable. Contestants interpreted 20 entries ranging from “Where the Wild Things Are” to “The Count of Monte Cristo” through food.

Information school graduate student Eric Cartier said a now-defunct preservation studies group began the UT festival to coincide with the international festival.

“It’s really an excuse to get book lovers together to show off their wit and revel in food for thought,” Cartier said.

Information school graduate student Lorrie Dong submitted two entries to the contest. She called one entry “Cadbury Tales,” a play off of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” She had to memorize the prologue as a renaissance literature undergraduate.

Dong used Cadbury egg-shaped chocolates to represent the travelers in the tales. She said the hardest part was resisting the smell of chocolate on her hands as well as carefully unwrapping them and making sure they didn’t melt.

“There’s a big metaphor of eating and reading, consuming and digesting literature,” Dong said. “It’s an apt metaphor. Now we’re just making it come to life.”

Retired teacher and Round Rock resident Betty Marshall took her two grandchildren, Greg and Tessa Marshall, to the festival because they are avid readers. Her 13-year-old grandson, Greg, said he was also an avid eater.

“Reading opens up all sorts of adventures to our lives,” said Betty, who taught remedial reading.

She shares her love of fantasy books with her grandson, whose favorite book is “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

“I like the imaginative point of view of the author,” Greg said.

Information graduate student Rebecca Kuipers said the festival encourages literacy and lets people have fun with books. Kuipers’s entry, “Book of Meats,” which was made of roast beef and mustard, won for “Least Appetizing.”

“I think it’s very easy to have books be something you have to do that is part of schoolwork and is hard,” Kuipers said. “[The festival] makes a connection to a different part, cooking with books.”