Delicious Summer Barbecue Ideas Inspired By Your Favorite Reads

Audrey Vertovec
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July 2, 2021

No 4th of July is complete without the quintessential barbecue enjoyed with family and friends. If you're looking to add some inspiration to your outdoor event this year, take a page from your bookshelves for inspiration. Check out these great ideas for refreshing (literary-themed!) dishes to add to your 4th of July BBQ spread! 

Raspberry Cordial from Anne of Green Gables

Marilla's raspberry cordial made quite the splash in the book we all know and love when Anne accidentally confuses currant wine for the cordial. 

"Anne, you certainly have a genius for getting into trouble. You went and gave Diana currant wine instead of raspberry cordial. Didn't you know the difference yourself?"  

The cordial incident is just one of the many hilarious circumstances Anne finds herself in throughout the book. The sweet and refreshing treat is an unexpected addition to any barbecue and is perfect by itself for little ones. If you're feeling adventurous, add a splash of vodka for the adults for a refreshing cocktail. 

Gin Rickey from The Great Gatsby  

The lavish parties held by Jay Gatsby were legendary affairs that marked the sparkling and jubilant roaring twenties. Yet, while there was plenty of champagne to be had throughout the pages of F. Scott's Fitzgerald's timeless classic, only one cocktail is mentioned in its pages—the Gin Rickey. 

“Tom came back, preceding four gin rickeys that clicked full of ice. Gatsby took up his drink. ‘They certainly look cool,’ he said, with visible tension. We drank in long, greedy swallows."

With the dreary days of the pandemic nearly behind us, celebrate the beginning of the new Roaring Twenties with this refreshing cocktail as you watch the lights of the fireworks dance across the sky this 4th of July. 

Summer Tomatoes, Corn, Crab and Avocado Salad from The Bell Jar

Inspired by Esther's fond memories from The Bell Jar of her grandfather sneaking home avocados for her after a long day's work at the country club, this refreshingly healthy summer treat will be the talk of your celebration. The memory strikes her while she is attending a ladies’ luncheon, unafraid to gorge on food while the prim and proper women around her barely sample. 

 "Arrayed on the Ladies Day banquet table were yellow-green avocado pear halves stuffed with crabmeat and mayonnaise, and platters of rare roast beef and cold chicken, and every so often a cut-glass bowl heaped with black caviar...Avocados are my favorite fruit. Every Sunday, my grandfather used to bring me an avocado pear hidden at the bottom of his briefcase under six soiled shirts and the Sunday comics." 

While the book can be dark and filled with pain, it's a passage that makes readers appreciate Esther for being unafraid to enjoy the little things. It’s a theme throughout the whole book—while she struggles with her mental health, she appreciates the comforts of food and the fond memories that consuming it can spark. 

Minny's Fried Chicken from The Help

In 1960s Mississippi, the Civil Rights movement raged in the streets and inside the homes of white Mississippi residents, where the microaggressions and racial injustices perpetrated against Black maids was brutal, especially when many maids raised the white children as their own and essentially ran the entire household. The Help dives deep into the psychological indignities that these women endured at the hands of their white employers, which was every bit as traumatizing as the movement taking place outside.  

"’Chicken's been soaking in the buttermilk,’ I say. ‘Now mix up the dry.’  I pour flour, salt, more salt, pepper, paprika, and a pinch of cayenne into a doubled paper sack.  ‘Now.  Put the chicken parts in the bag and shake it.’ Miss Celia puts a raw chicken thigh in, bumps the bag around. ‘Like this?  Just like Shake' n Bake commercials on the tee-vee?’  Real careful, I lay the dark meat in the pan.  It bubbles up like a song and we watch the thighs and legs turn brown.  I look over, and Miss Celia's smiling at me. ‘What? Somethin' on my face?’ ‘No,’ she says, tears coming up in her eyes.  She touches my arm. ‘I'm just real grateful you're here.’"

In the touching scene quoted above, Minny and Celia break down the racial barrier between them and, just for a moment, understand one another, sparking a friendship over cooking. 

To quote Minny, "Fryin' chicken jus' tend to make you feel better about life." And if there's one thing that everyone can appreciate at an Independence day barbecue, it's crispy fried chicken and an appreciation for life. 

Treacle Tart from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Any Harry Potter enthusiast would agree that some of the most enthralling passages of the book take place around dinners in The Great Hall. The food of the wizarding world has made fans' mouths water, and a spoonful of Harry’s favorite dessert--treacle tart (similar to pecan pie) will surely bring a magical feel to your barbecue.

"Harry was too used to [Hermione and Ron's] bickering to bother trying to reconcile them; he felt it was a better use of his time to eat his way through his steak-and-kidney pie, then a large plateful of his favorite treacle tart." 

Blueberry Pie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 

In Roald Dahl's classic novel, children slowly succumb to the enticing delights of Mr. Wonka's chocolate factory, their greed overcoming their small wills... Until young Violet turns violet after an unfortunate but delicious taste of magical bubblegum. 

"’Blueberry pie and cream!’ shouted Violet. ‘Here it comes! Oh my, it's perfect! It's beautiful! It's… it's exactly as though I'm swallowing it! It's as though I'm chewing and swallowing great big spoonfuls of the most marvelous pie in the world!’"

"Great heavens, girl!" screeched Mrs. Beauregarde. "You're blowing up like a balloon!" 

"Like a blueberry," said Mr. Wonka.” 

Luckily this pie will allow you to enjoy the final flavor of the experience without the unfortunate circumstance of turning into a giant blueberry and having small orange people sing about the debacle. And of course, there's nothing sweeter than ripe summer blueberries! 

What are your favorite recipes you found among the pages of your books? How are you celebrating the Fourth of July this year? Let us know by sharing it with us on Instagram or Twitter @bookclubdotcom!


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