Food in Literature – An Interview
Dear Food Network execs. This is your next star.
As a bookworm, I am jealous of Bryton Taylor. If I could could cook (I once caught my microwave on fire and come to mention it, the microwave at work on fire), I would be doing exactly what she’s doing. Creating food from the recipes and meals in famous books. Her YouTube channel and website, Food in Literature, has thousands of followers from all over the world (Bryt is in Australia) and covers everything from Willy Wonka to Alice in Wonderland to Perry Mason to…Harry Potter. Yes, you Potterheads are in for a treat. She is quite the fan.
Bryt’s well crafted videos take little of your time and teach you how to make meals that bring you closer to your favorite literary characters. Her soothing voice calms you even if you are struggling to figure out teaspoon from tablespoon. As a declared, “not-the-greatest-cook”, I managed to make her Turkish Delight from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and it tasted like victory. And lemony goodness.
Thank you for the interview, Bryt. I’ve been a big fan for a couple of years now. Can you tell my readers more about who you are and where you’re from?
I’m Bryton. I was born in Vancouver, Canada, but I’ve lived in Perth, Australia, for the past 18 years. At Food in Literature, I create recipes inspired by novels and children’s books. It has everything from Alice in Wonderland‘s “Drink Me” potion to Harry Potter recipes, with a range of other classic and contemporary literature.
You may be one of the biggest Harry Potter fans I’ve ever known and that’s saying something. What triggered your love for these books? Were you a fan from the beginning?
I think I became fascinated with the Harry Potter series around the third book, so there were many fans before me! I’m so thrilled we get a chance to live through that experience again with both Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts.
The Harry Potter series has incredible scenes involving food, and they allow me to interpret them creatively. I think this is what has driven the blog the longest and why I love turning to the series the most. Creating recipes provide a meaningful connection between the wonderful world of wizardry and our world. Food seems to transfer some of the magic to our everyday life. I just hope what I create is what everyone else imagines too!
You’ve said that there is an old Butterbeer recipe and one from Universal studios. What is the difference and which do you prefer?
The old Butterbeer recipe is an alcoholic version, made of British ale, sugar, and spices. It’s what you’d sip on when settled in the warmth of The Three Broomsticks, escaping the biting cold and waiting to get feeling back into your fingers. Personally, I think it feels very authentic.
The Universal Studio’s version is kid friendly and sugary, tasting of cream soda and butterscotch.
You seem so even keeled and calm. Has any recipe ever not worked out for you or made you frustrated?
I’m self-taught and didn’t bake cookies every weekend while growing up. So the recipes I publish emerge from plenty of trial and error along the way.
Some recipes are still a work in progress. I have been working on two of them for almost four years! I keep coming back and trying a new variation, telling myself, “this time, it’ll work.” The first recipe is Wonka’s Bluebird Eggs. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl says the eggs gradually getting smaller in your mouth until there’s only a little bird sitting on the tip of your tongue. The other recipe is Lembas Bread from Lord of the Rings. This one should be straightforward since it’s a type of hardtack but I’m determined to create a unique bread—worthy of something the Elves would make. Perhaps this year I’ll get the recipe right?
Your videos look professionally edited. Are you the techie behind this or do you have help?
Thank you! Yes, I do my own filming and editing. There are pros and cons for doing the technical side yourself. I have complete control over how the videos turn out. But I also recognize that trying to “do it all” means spreading myself quite thin. It takes longer to move ahead with my new ideas because I’m trying to do everything well. I can appreciate those who work with a team where one person can focus on the creative side, while someone can concentrate on lighting, framing, audio and editing. On a good day (if the recipe is straight forward) I might have anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour of video content. Editing that amount of footage down to 2-6 minutes takes several hours. On other projects, it can take several hours to film, and numerous hours over many days to finish editing.
Which of your recipes would you recommend for the early, early beginner cooks?
You can’t go wrong with Treacle Tart from Harry Potter. The ingredients are fresh bread crumbs, golden syrup and lemon juice. You can use a pre-made pie crust. And if you’re worried your creation won’t work out right with the pastry top, you can leave it off.
Also on the blog are several stir-through ice cream flavours that match up with books such as Paddington and Curious George. It’s not about how complicated the recipe is, but about providing a connection through food between our lives and the books we love.
Living in Australia, I notice that you don’t have certain cooking items, such as, “creaming soda”. Are there any other ingredients that you wish Australia had or that Americans knew about?
It’s the simple things. I miss being able to pick up Pumpkin Pie spice from the grocery store. I know you can mix it yourself, but it’s the ease of popping it into your shopping trolley.
I feel like you should be on a network cooking show. Have you ever thought about it? It’s definitely a niche no one else has the market on.
Wouldn’t that be fun! I love the thought of being able to reach others and get them excited about books from a different perspective.
You also put together party packages influenced by literature. Do you have regular parties for your friends using literary themes? What is your favorite party theme?
It depends on the year and how busy everyone is. In the past, I’ve had dinner parties every few months, but last year was pretty quiet. Since my birthday falls at the beginning of summer here, I would love to throw another pirate party this year, inspired by Treasure Island.
Can you give me a hint to what you’re working on now?
For the blog, I’m brainstorming for Halloween and Christmas. Where did the year go?!
I have so many ideas that can take me in so many directions, all inspired by literature, of course. I’m turning over ideas for Beauty and the Beast, Fantastic Beasts and Sleepy Hollow. I guess we’ll see which path I end up on. My challenge is trying to allow equal time for publishing content on the blog and for creating videos.
I cannot wait for your Halloween recipes. That’s my favorite time of year. Thank you so much, Bryton! For everyone else, click on the icon links below to peruse Bryt’s wonderful website and learn about new, bookish recipes. There’s Butterbeer, ya’ll!