Festival Takes Literature Out Of Books And Into Stomachs

Apr 5, 2016

Many of us are book consumers, in the figurative sense. But during the worldwide Edible Book Festival, you can literally consume books.

Ivy Tech hosted Fort Wayne’s festival on Monday, where participants create food dishes inspired by literature.

For some, reading is much more than a visual experience. At the Edible Book Festival, participants created edible dishes and listened to music inspired by books.

Adrienne Cottrell baked a cake inspired by The Great Gatsby.

“I read it in high school and seen the movie, and I really like the ‘20s theme and style and the feathers and all the elaborate designs,” Cottrell said.

The side of the cake is inscribed with the book's title and a quote from the book: ‘He threw all those parties hoping she’d wander in.’
Credit Lisa Ryan, WBOI News

Her cake incorporates 1920s detail with fringe on the bottom, a light dusting of of edible shimmer, and a design resembling a headband from the jazz age. The headband has edible food-grade glitter and is topped with realistic feathers made from wafer paper. The side has cursive writing with a quote from the book.

Even the flavor of the cake was Great Gatsby-themed. Cottrell says she replaced the water in the recipe with pink champagne, a common drink from the book and movie. She won third place in the people’s choice competition.

Cottrell is a student in Ivy Tech’s baking and pastry program, as were many festival participants.

First place went to Claudia Hollinger, another Ivy Tech student, who designed her cake based off of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The cake has a mini-cake on top of it designed to look like the one Hagrid gives to Harry on his birthday. It also has a wand, the Sorting Hat and the sorcerer’s stone.

Claudia Hollinger dressed up to match the books from the Harry Potter series.
Credit Lisa Ryan, WBOI News

Hollinger says she mixed in elements from other books in the series as well, like her outfit, which resembled the prison uniform Sirius Black wears in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

There were some participants who weren’t students, like local bakery Sweets So Geek and stay-at-home mom Cayla Veach. She isn’t a professional baker, but she won second place for her cake based off of a book her children enjoy called Just You and Me. The three-tiered cake had designs from the book, made by mixing food dye and water.

“It’s a fun way of making it look like the illustrations in the book because the original illustrations are done with watercolor and pencil, so I tried to mimic that the best I could,” Veach said.

This is Veach’s sixth year participating in the Edible Book Festival, which Ivy Tech has celebrated for 10 years.

But the college isn’t the only organization to celebrate the event. It’s held on or near April 1 around the world and was started by two booklovers in 2000 to celebrate the birthday of a French gastronome. Ivy Tech library director Diana Randall says it’s also a way to celebrate reading.

“(It's) such a fundamental thing to not only education but success and lifelong learning,” Randall said.

The latest available data from the National Center for Education Statistics estimates 8 percent of adults in Indiana lack basic literacy skills. Allen County’s average is slightly lower at 7 percent.

The Edible Book Festival allows participants to commemorate important writings.

Ariell Morrison didn’t place in the competition, but her cake had a symbolic meaning. The optional theme for baking and pastry students was the Remnant Trust Collection at Ivy Tech, which includes old documents and books.

Ariell Morrison based her cake off of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Credit Lisa Ryan, WBOI News

Morrison chose to base her cake off of the Emancipation Proclamation. She created a cake that featured a black fist rising from a flag. A broken chain lies next to the flag representing the end of slavery. The flavor of her dessert is meaningful as well.

“American was primarily white at the time or Caucasian, and then the dark chocolate cake kind of represents the slavery and the bondage, and then the fist represents the freedom,” Morrison said.

The white cake flag is resting on top of the chocolate foundation of the cake. Morrison says this is a statement on racial equality as well.

The Edible Book Festival aims to celebrate literature and instill a love of reading in children. This year’s festival had 21 submissions… all of which proved you can have your book, and eat it too.