Miso soup prepared by Franz Kafka? Onion tart à la Homer? Such culinary fantasies are cooked up by Mark Crick in Kafka's Soup.
You're not a writer by profession. How did you get so good at literary pastiche?
I'm a London East Ender, and when I got to university I realized people couldn't understand me, so I started adapting my voice. Also I'm a bit of a linguist, and I've developed an ear for voices. If you can get a writer's rhythm going, you're halfway there. As a child I was asthmatic and I couldn't sleep at night. I used to sit there, with a big pile of books, Proust-like, reading through the night. It's still rare for me to have less than three or four books by my bed.
Are the recipes in the book yours?
Most are stalwarts of mine. Some I've prised out of friends. Like the chocolate cake à la Irvine Welsh. It's a fantastic cake and there's never enough of it. Mainly, I needed recipes that would enable me to use the writers' voices. So instead of saying, "Have you got something nice I can cook for a friend who's a vegetarian?" it was, "Have you got something nice I could cook and use violent, sadistic language in?" Or "Have you got a recipe for something that's got a real class-consciousness to it?"
Why Quick Miso Soup for Kafka rather than a Czech recipe?
One of my earlier thoughts was that the food would either have some kind of biographical connection with each writer, or be connected to something that appeared in their work. But in the end it was a linguistic thing: does this recipe offer me the chance to use the language that I want to use for this writer? I had a feeling that Kafka wouldn't cook and would barely eat. He was incredibly thin. Miso soup's got a thinness to it, but there's something very exotic about it, like Kafka, so it seemed to work. I certainly accept any challenge that Kafka would not have eaten miso soup. But he definitely wouldn't have eaten a rich Czech stew.
If you were to pastiche a cookery writer, who would it be?
Probably someone like Brillat-Savarin, the first French cookery writer. But with people like Anthony Bourdain and Gordan Ramsay, I'd tip over into parody. There is an element of parody in Kafka's Soup, but it's really about pastiche. Because I wouldn't want to take the piss out of fantastic great artists I admire.