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Fictitious Dishes: Bringing Classic Novels to the Table

Dinah Fried, an American graphic design student, gave all of us on the interwebs something to fawn over around this time last year with her piece Fictitious Dishes. Even more impressive than the title’s sweet rhyme are the photos themselves: ten delicately created ensembles of fictional character’s meals. The works featured were Moby Dick, Alice in Wonderland, The Catcher in the Rye, Oliver Twist, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. From each novel Fried strategically took into consideration a multitude of details such as placemats, background settings, little trinkets, condiments, the type of silverware, etc. in order to make each image as accurate and layered as possible. And although these calculated details certainly make a magnitude of difference and add many contextual layers to the pieces Fried designed, the food itself (and in some cases the lack thereof) is still obviously the focal point. Have a look for yourself and take note of the key aesthetic and plating decisions that bring to life the novels themselves.


Source: Bon Apetit

Aesthetic Details: As you can see, the background is that of wooden-planks that evokes an image of a sailboat, and the scattered seashells further hone in on the nautical vibe.

Food: The (presumably) clam chowder in the piece is photographed so unapologetically that you can almost smell the clams and the sea just from staring.


Source: Bon Apetit

Aesthetic Details: The playful turquoise and ostentatiously floral tea sets not only connects the viewer with the famous Mad Hatter tea party scene, but also to Alice herself, as the color of the background and the white lace conjure aspects of Alice’s classic white apron and dress.

Food: The sugar and tea in the portrait may not look like much but it certainly invokes a mad tea party and the slyly placed playing cards beneath a hot pink spoon remind you that not much was eaten at said event.


Source: Bon Apetit

Aesthetic Details: The classic New York City diner vibe of this image is embodied perfectly from the salt and pepper-shaker to the small box packed with an array of sweeteners.

Food: The sliced grilled cheese and chocolate milkshake may be directly taken from J.D. Salinger’s words but the way they are placed, in a fancy setting along with a cup of coffee certainly does show a nice clash of the young and the old, and the coming of age transition that Holden Caulfield experiences.


Source: Bon Apetit

Aesthetic Details: The calculated choice of a wooden spoon successfully alludes to the poverty faced by Oliver.

Food: The measly, splattered porridge is indicative of his poor circumstances and harsh life.



Source: Bon Apetit

Aesthetic Details: The see-through plateware is indicative of Sweden’s minimalist culture.

Food: The simple seasoned eggs, cut up and exposed along with a small dosage of coffee and water garnished with lemon epitomizes the quick, simple, and streamlined meals that Mikael Blomkvist must have hoarded down as he was engaging in his rigorous investigative research.

Finally, the novelty of Fried’s work must not be understated. Although we know that food is so central to our society, we often overlook its status in other outlets of pop culture such as in movies, television, and in this case, books. To use classic novels and exemplify what an indicative meal for that written work would be is such a fascinating concept in and of itself. Yet to go beyond that and create something that is so visceral and visually appealing is even more of an accomplishment. The strategic placement of small trinkets, the images of the food, the table settings, the color coordination, and the angles all surmount to pieces that you can’t take your eyes off of.  As you’ve heard many times before “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and Fried literally embodies thousands of words of classical texts through her ingenious and aesthetic work.

See more of Fictitious Dishes.

-Lauren Samuel

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