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Want to read a book, and eat it, too? Since 1999, there is a festival dedicated to the extraordinary—or extraordinarily unusual—combination of food and all things bookish: the International Edible Book Festival.

Begun by foodies and book-lovers Judith A. Hoffberg and Béatrice Coron, the idea for a festival which combined books and food began while Judith was enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with some book artist friends. The question: how to combine art, food and books? According to the IEBF’s current participation rules, all edible books must be foods which incorporate the concept of “books” through their very form, the inclusion of text, or via literary inspiration.

These fairly wide “rules” allow for great latitude and creativity when it comes to edible books, and it has been manifested over and over again in International Edible Book Festivals in the U.S., Hong Kong, Russia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, England, IIreland, Italy, France, Japan, Morocco, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, and New Zealand.

Some edible book creations have included: a pie depicting Life of Pi, Quiche of the Spider Woman, an upside down half-watermelon impaled with forks topped with apple “fangs,” entitled Twilight: Welcome to Forks, and a marzipan beach-scene with a sunglasses-clad raisin with the title Raisin in the Sun.

It’s clear that this festival steers clear of all things super-serious, academic or overtly literature-saturated. It is as much a celebration of the ingenuity of artists as it is a book-related festival. And yet book-related it is, for to most fully enjoy an edible book festival, one must have at least a passing knowledge of literature, and ideally a rich and deep well of experienced literature on which to draw. After all, how can you truly understand a platter of 100 asparagus spears entitled One Hundred Spears of Solitude, if you aren’t familiar with Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

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