I love A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s been a good couple of years since I last read it, an oversight I’m planning to rectify these holidays, but it always springs to mind when people ask me for book recommendations.
I shouldn’t be admitting this, but I’ve always felt a certain affinity with Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero (and I use that term lightly) of the book. He’s over-educated, bombastic, prone to delusions, gluttony and flatulence, and is entirely unemployable. I have far more self-awareness, obviously, and I’d like to think I have better standards of hygiene, but the similarities are there.
Food is a constant presence in the book – from the potato chip crumbs lingering in Ignatius’ moustache on the very first page, to his love of macaroons and wine cakes, job pushing a hotdog cart, and obsession with the now-defunct soft drink Dr Nut – but when flatulence and digestive issues play an equally central role to the storyline, A Confederacy of Dunces might seem an unlikely choice to inspire a cookbook.
But inspire it has, and the world is now a better place for the existence of The Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook, by Cynthia LeJune Nobels. 200 recipes – inspired by Ignatius’ favourites, supporting characters, and New Orleans itself – are paired with historical research on 1960s New Orleans, outlining how food, history, and culture intersect throughout the novel.
At nearly $50AU, I’m going to have to wait until it drops in price, comes out in paperback, or hope someone gives me a fat wad of cash for Christmas. Or maybe someone will finally hire me, but given that Ignatius and I share a lack of “some particular perversion which today’s employer is seeking”, I won’t hold much hope for that.