PORTLAND, Maine — A cake topped with a marzipan mockingbird. A stinky cheese man made of brie and Swiss. Rhubarb pie garnished with a “bloody,” edible pig. The term tasty read takes on new meaning Friday at the Edible Book Festival at the Portland Public Library.
What’s an edible book fest? Use your imagination.
“It can be as general as making something edible that relates to a book that you like, or you
can get very literal and do the cover of a book,” said Rachael Weyand, library programming manager overseeing the event, a reoccurring First Friday Art Walk feature.
The Monument Square institution has hosted this offshoot of the International Edible Book Festival, held globally around April Fool’s Day, for a decade now.
Library patrons and the public are invited to enter edible art based on a book, poem or protagonist from a published work. As long as it’s literary and consumable (people are eating this stuff) it’s fair game. Cookbooks, children’s books, short stories, historical biographies or whatever translates into witty or whimsical fare flies.
The idea is to get people to think about reading in a new light.
“We all read books,” said Weyand. But participants, many school-age children, often vamp on new aspects of a classic in this gourmand pop-up gallery.
“It’s a nice way for people to digest what they have read. It’s a good party,” she said.
Of course, not everyone will be eager to dig in.
“One year, someone did a riff on the title ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,’” recalled Weyand.
The translation of the Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo classic became “Beer and Loathing in Lost Haggis,” featuring a beer and sheep offal. “It’s interesting to see how people take on the challenge.”
Interesting doesn’t always translate into succulent.
“No one went for the haggis, but there are lots of chocolate cakes,” Weyand said.
What makes this fest stand out from your average bake sale is creativity.
“How people put their pieces together, which aspects they choose,” is where poetry comes into play, according to Weyand.
The public can vote for their favorite. Prizes are awarded for best entree from a child, 13 years old and under, and an adult. Winners receive a cookbook of their choice from Longfellow Books.
As part of the Art Walk, the library also hosts “Bound Together II,” an exhibition of book art by University of Southern Maine students.
“It’s a take on all kinds of formats, accordion books, visual arts, using a book as a canvas,” said Weyand. “They are two dimensional spaces loosely connected at one point.”
“Bound Together II” will be on display through April at the Lewis Gallery.
If you feel a plot point coming on? It’s not too late to be part of the Edible Book Festival.
So far there are 20 entries this year.
“We would love to see more,” said Weyand.
Think outside the cover, and drop off your masterpieces from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday. The fest starts at 5 p.m. for viewing, and awards are at 7 p.m. followed by tastings.
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 871-1700, ext. 756.