Edible Book Festival provides food for thought

By Neil Offen

The Associated Press

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — At Duke University's Perkins Library this month, the classics were all there: "The Grapes of Wrap," ''Catsup in the Rye," ''Werthering Heights," ''A Wrinkle in Lime."

They were more than just food for thought.

They were entries in the preservation and conservation department's sixth annual Edible Book Festival. The festival is part fundraiser, part competition and part excuse to make some of the worst puns imaginable.

It grew out of the International Edible Book Festival, which takes place every April 1, the birthday of the French gastronome and writer, Brillat-Savarin. April Fool's Day, the organizers said, is the perfect day "to eat your words and play with them."

"This is just a fun thing to do," explained Beth Doyle, who runs the festival and is head of the conservation services department. "I've never met someone who works in a library who doesn't like food, so it seemed like a natural connection. It's a chance for us to let loose and have a good time, rather than having to say 'shush' all the time."

The rules to enter are simple: make something you can eat that has something to do with books, either their shape or their content or their title.

"Frankly, we don't really have many rules to enter," said Doyle. "It's pretty simple. Just make edible art, that's pretty much it."

The entries ranged from the simple — Lori Nofziger's homage to J.D. Salinger, two slices of rye bread with ketchup in the middle, sliced into two portions — to the elaborate, such as Judy Moore's "100 Ears of Salad Dude." That included, on a background of white cake frosting, a cool-looking guy outlined in bell pepper, carrots and parsley, with an eggplant body and black olives for eyes.

The dude was surrounded, of course, by many ears of baby corn — "100 of them, exactly," Moore said. "I counted them very carefully."

Moore said she had actually considered another possibility for her entry, but was glad she hadn't. After all, there already was "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Scone."

"I had wanted to do "Hairy Pot Roast and the Sorcerer's Scone.'" Moore said. "You know, with little curly fried onions for the hair? I'm glad I didn't."

Meghan Lyon, who constructed her "Werthering Heights" house out of — what else? — Werther's candies, along with Twizzlers, with Clif bars and Heath bars for lead character Heathcliff standing alongside, said neither thinking of the idea nor construction were all that difficult.

"I just started to think of my favorite books and see if I could fit a pun in," Lyon said. "Then I just took out the glue gun and got to work."

Those who came to the festival, including the contestants, could bid on the items and take them home and also could vote for best in show, most edible, least edible, punniest and other categories.

Amy Turner, who won Best in Show for her "Cat-a-Log" — a chocolate covered yule log kitten with pound cake legs — admitted that she didn't put a lot of time into her entry.

"I thought of it in the morning," Turner said. "I'm a cataloger at the library and it just came to me."

Turner also put in the highest bid for her entry. "I wanted to take it home," she said. "I love chocolate and it looks pretty good."

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Information from: The Herald-Sun, http://www.herald-sun.com