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Cooking The Books

Cooking The Books

By Vanessa Baca
A podcast about food in literature, the inspiration behind the stories, and how the recipes come to life in my kitchen!
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La Cucina and the Art of Homemade Ragú Sauce

Cooking The Books

Dracula and the Bloody Satisfaction of Chicken Paprikash
Being the former Goth girl that I am, of course there is no monster I love more than that big, bad granddad of vampires, Dracula! We have a return guest in Allie Pino, whose upcoming Gothic Cookbook takes a bloody delicious bite out of Stoker's literary masterpiece, and we talk about the Gothic in literature, Gothic food and the sheer sexiness of vampires. I also share my method for a delicious, very garlicky, tomatoey Eastern European chicken dish that is native to Transylvania, so enjoy and watch out for those fangs! To learn more about Allie Pino and her upcoming Gothic Cookbook, and to learn how to get a copy for yourself or your favorite Goth, visit: and use code GOTHICPOD10 for 10% off! You can also follow her on Instagram @sasacharlie or use the hashtag #Gothiccookbook so give her a follow! Follow my food blog at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
July 26, 2022
The Great Gatsby and the Jazzy Joys of Mint Juleps
Please note: We experienced some technical difficulties while recording so I apologize for the audio quality in places where it fades out.  Happy end of April, Constant Listeners! It's National Jazz Appreciation Month, and I thought I'd focus on one of the Jazz Age books that I love most in the world. We are also talking with Dr. Eddie Tafoya, repeat customer here at the podcast, where we discuss Jay Gatsby's pride and pecadilloes, we debate whether he truly loved Daisy or just what she represents, and I extol the virtues and joys of that most 1920s of cocktails, the mint julep! To learn more about the work of Dr. Eddie Tafoya, visit: If you enjoy this podcast, you might like my blog, so check it out at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
April 26, 2022
The Chef's Secret and the Renaissance-ish Delights of Veal Meatballs with Pinenuts
It's the marvelous month of March, and this month's episode features a wonderful book set in Renaissance Italy that is filled to the joyous brim with luscious food descriptions, a forbidden love, and a secret that brings to mind The DaVinci Code. I am also interviewing the book's author, the wonderful and talented Crystal King. We talk Italian cuisine, culinary appropriation, which social media platform would Renaissance chefs use most, and I also share a recipe for polpette di vitello con pinoli, e cipolla con una riduzione di aceto balsamico, which was published in the companion cookbook to King's novel, so give it a listen and try not to drool! Check out my blog at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at: Learn more about the works of Crystal King at:
March 20, 2022
The Farolitos of Christmas and the Seasonal Happiness of Biscochitos
A belated holiday-themed episode awaits you today! We are discussing the ultimate New Mexico Christmas food - the biscochito, and I interview the talented Eric Martinez of Los Foodies, which is an amazing food magazine and marketing group here in our home state. Eric and I talk about the importance of food for a truly New Mexico Christmas, and the origin story of biscochitos in Rudolfo Anaya's classic children's book The Farolitos of Christmas and I share my dear grandmother's tried and true method for making these wonderful anise-studded cookies, so enjoy! Learn more about my blog at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at: And if you want to know more about Eric's work, visit:
January 04, 2022
Shakespeare's Hamlet and the Dysfunctional Joy of Chicken Pies in Coffins (or The Funeral Baked Meats)
To be or not to be, that is the question, and one of many questions and quandaries we'll be discussing in today's episode, focusing on my favorite of all William Shakespeare's plays, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. My special guest, author and marvelous cook Giovanni Franceschini, joins me to talk about his satirical novel Dinner at Shakespeare's Globe (written under his pseudonym Tonno Bisaccio) which recreates several Shakespearean plays in hilarious ways focusing on food. Giovanni and I will also discuss the meaning of food in The Bard's work, which is our favorite Shakespearean meal and answer the age-old question - was Shakespeare really Shakespeare? Learn more about Giovanni Franceschini's awesome book of rhyming couplets and recipes - and consider buying it - at: If you enjoy this podcast, you will probably like my blog, over at: You might even enjoy liking me on Facebook at: And you may even want to follow me on Instagram at:
November 16, 2021
Rebecca and the Gothic Pleasure of Ravioli in Tomato-Chicken-Cream Sauce
We're entering the holy season of Halloween, and what better way to kick off this eerie time of the year with a discussion of one of literature's great Gothic novels and its melodramatic themes of love, grief, obsession, and of course food! I also get to interview the wonderful Alessandra Pino, or Allie as she is known to her friends, the co-author of the marvelous illustrated book of recipes titled A Gothic Cookbook and we share our thoughts on the various foods mentioned in Rebecca, as well as a character analysis of the nameless heroine of the tale and we answer the great question - was Mrs. Danvers in love with Rebecca?  You can learn more about Allie's work on her Instagram feed at: @agothiccookbook or on Twitter at: @foodforflo, and you can learn more about her cookbook at: If you're interested in supporting the cookbook and purchasing a copy, use the discount code: GOTHICPOD10  If you enjoy this podcast, you might like my blog, so give it a whirl at: You can also like me on Facebook at: Or you can follow me on Instagram at:
September 28, 2021
The Godfather and the Vengeful Bliss of Veal Saltimbocca
We're taking on Mario Puzo's operatic masterpiece The Godfather today, talking about the merits of both the book and the classic film trilogy, with Dr. Eddie Tafoya, English professor and self-professed expert on this topic, and I will share a mouth-wateringly delicious veal recipe, so enjoy! Follow my blog at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at: Learn more about Eddie Tafoya's work at:
August 17, 2021
Pet Sematary and the Deathly Deliciousness of Meatloaf Sandwiches
We're talking Stephen King again today with one of his darkest, most devastating and terrifying books of all, discussing how grief and not accepting death can bring about true horror, and I share my method for making one of the most homey and comforting dishes of all - and God knows we need some comfort food after this book! - so tune in and enjoy! Cooking the Books is a proud member of the Barelas Podcasters Guild. Check them out on Instagram at: If you like this podcast, you'll probably enjoy my blog, so check it out at: You can like me on Facebook at: And you can follow me on Instagram at:
June 02, 2021
Portnoy's Complaint and the Onanistic Pleasures of Cream-Filled Apple & Banana Cake
Today's episode takes on one of the horniest and neurotic young men in modern literature, his obsession with self-pleasure, and a delicious cream-filled dessert, so enjoy! Special thanks to Dr. Eddie Tafoya, Professor of English Literature, whose ability to narrate a certain passage from this book with a completely straight face has earned him my gratitude, not to mention much giggling on my part. :) If you like this podcast, you might enjoy my blog at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
April 28, 2021
The Shadow of the Wind and the Literary Joy of Croquetas de Jamón
Episodes with music are only available on Spotify.
We are heading to post WWII Barcelona today and discussing the literary, romantic and terrifying adventures of a young man coming of age, his discovery of a Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and making a delicious Spanish-flavored appetizer, so join us! If you like this podcast, you might enjoy my blog at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
March 23, 2021
The Pit and the Pendulum and the Horrifying Thrill of Pork Medallions in Amontillado Sauce
The man who was my first literary boyfriend, Edgar Allan Poe himself, and one of his masterpiece works, are the subject of today's podcast, as I expound on the dark genius of the man, his opium-like literary style, and describe a culinary dish worthy of the Spanish Inquisition. And special thanks to the handsome, intelligent, funny, and always annoying Dr. Eddie Tafoya, who provided some of today's audio. Check out some of his work at: Like what you hear? Then check out my blog at: You can also like me on Facebook at: Or follow me on Instagram at:
March 01, 2021
The Shining and the Truly Terrifying Pleasure of Tomato-Basil Bisque
We're taking on the King of horror literature today, my main man Stephen King, and the book that is arguably one of his masterpieces, discussing the literary merits of the book vs. the notorious Stanley Kubrick film, and making some good old comfort food in today's episode, so enjoy! If you like my podcast, you'll probably enjoy my blog at: You can also like me on Facebook at: And of course, you can follow me on Instagram at:
February 04, 2021
Pablo Neruda's Ode to Tomatoes and the Sensual Pleasures of Tuna-Stuffed Tomatoes
This episode features the poetry of my very favorite poet in the entire world, the late, great Pablo Neruda, and his culinary and sensual take on food in poetry, particularly the seemingly humble tomato, as well as my interpretation of it, and some meanderings on the nature of food and sexuality, so enjoy with your lover by your side! And many thanks to the hilarious, charming, handsome and occasionally annoying Dr. Eduardo Tafoya for doing the reading on today's episode! Blog: Facebook: Instagram:
January 01, 2021
The Haunting of Hill House and the Spooky Joy of Chicken with Plums and Radishes
A bit late for Halloween, nonetheless we're talking one of the greatest novels in horror literature and how its ambiguity makes it that much more terrifying, and a delicious and unexpected dish of chicken with plums and radishes, so please join us! Like what you hear? Check out my food blog at:! You can also like me on Facebook at: And you can follow me on Instagram at: Special thanks to Dr. Eddie Tafoya, professor, comedian and author, who provided some of the audio in today's episode. If you want to learn more about his work, visit:
November 23, 2020
The Exorcist and the Demonic Pleasures of Split Pea Soup
It 's the high holy season for those of us drawn to the darker side of life, and in honor of Halloween, I'm talking about a favorite book of mine that spawned one of the most shocking and horrifying films ever made, and tying it in with a delicious potful of soup that is just perfect for this season of falling leaves, crisp evenings, ghosts and ghouls, so give it a listen! Here is an interesting article if you want to dig more into the true story behind this book: If you like what you hear, check out my blog over at :, or you can like me on Facebook at:, or even better, follow me on Instagram at: Happy Halloween, you little monsters!
October 13, 2020
Bless Me, Última and the Spiritual Bliss of Blue Corn Cakes
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, and to memorialize a wonderful author who was also a dear friend and mentor, I'm discussing the pivotal book Bless Me, Última by the late, great Chicano author Rudolfo Anaya and sharing my method for making a savory New Mexico treat that incorporates our favorite seasonal green chile!  Like what you hear? Check out my blog at Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
September 15, 2020
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires and the Bloody Thrill of Cheese Straws
We're talking some Southern-fried vampirism today, along with a tasty appetizer that no self-respecting Southern housewife would be caught dead without, so check it out and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts! If you like this podcast, you'll love my blog so take a gander over at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
August 24, 2020
The Silence of the Lambs and the Cannibalistic Joy of Chicken Liver and Fava Bean Crostini
Join me as we talk cannibalism, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and I share my method for making a tasty chicken-liver and fava bean crostini! Check out my blog at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
July 14, 2020
Kitchen Confidential and the F*cking Brilliance of Yellowfin Tuna
We're honoring the foul-mouthed legacy and cooking genius of my idol, Anthony Bourdain, talking about his seminal work Kitchen Confidential, and I'm trying my hand at one of his more fanciful food references in that book, so listen and enjoy! Check out my blog at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
June 19, 2020
The Name of the Rose and the Ungodly Goodness of Fried Cheese in Batter
We're going back to 14th century Italy with a medieval monk and his Watson-like sidekick to an abbey where murder, mayhem and a massive library take center stage, and frying up some tasty cheesy goodness in the latest episode of Cooking the Books, so give us a listen!   Check out my blog at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
June 02, 2020
Dune and the Otherwordly Joys of Cooking Rabbit
Today's episode talks about the unearthly joys of science-fiction, including my favorite sci-fi book of all time, and a delicious and unusual dish featuring - you guessed it - rabbit! Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at: Check out my blog at:
May 15, 2020
Like Water for Chocolate and the Magic of Chiles en Nogada (Stuffed Poblano Peppers)
This week, we are talking magical realism and food, discussing one of my favorite foodie books of all time and how it presents food as both magical and as a reflection of emotions and feelings, and I'll share my method for making a classic Mexican dish! Visit my blog at: Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
April 29, 2020
Fairy Tale Food and the Comfort of Cooking Risotto
In this week's episode, I talk about the magical and transformative qualities of food in fairy tales, discuss one recent retelling of my favorite fairy tale of all time, and share my method for making squid-ink risotto. Like me on Facebook at: Follow me on Instagram at:
April 22, 2020
La Cucina and the Art of Homemade Ragú Sauce
The culinary delights of Southern Italy are richly described in the wonderful book "La Cucina" by Lily Prior and I discuss the comforts of making homemade ragú sauce during COVID-19 social distancing.
April 14, 2020