Ames community invited to create food inspired by books

Cristobal Matibag

Lovers of food and literature will have a chance to combine both their passions April 1, when the Parks Library Preservation Department will host its first Edible Book Festival.

The department is inviting all members of the Ames community to make and submit food items inspired by books, which library associates will display from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Bookends Reading Room.

Library associate Melissa Tedone is responsible for bringing the event to Iowa State. Her involvement with the event stretches back to 2007, when she helped organize a similar celebration at the University of Texas-Austin. When she came to Ames in 2009, her proposal to hold a version of the festival in Parks Library quickly gained the support of Library Dean Olivia Madison.

Tedone sees the festival as a whimsical way to celebrate two things ISU is known for: food and design. She hopes it will raise public awareness of book preservation and bring people from Iowa State together with people from other parts of the Ames community.

Heather Lewin, assistant professor of library science [corrected from library], will be one of the competitors in the event. Using rice cereal treats and fondant, she plans to make an item inspired by Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

“I’m going to be making a Zen garden … but instead of using rocks I’m going to be using nuts and bolts,” Lewin said.

Tedone said close to 20 competitors had already submitted pieces. Their inspirations ranged from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender is the Night” to “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

Tedone stresses that festival entries don’t have to be massive or complex in design. Any entry turned in by the Saturday submission deadline will be accepted and displayed. She wants all to feel free to enter the festival, no matter their level of culinary skill.

“I would encourage everyone to participate,” Tedone said. “I’m just looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.”

Festival attendees will be able to vote for competitors in three award categories: best in show, wittiest and best book structure. A three-judge panel made up of faculty from the library, the College of Design and the College of Human Sciences will also select a winner for a Critics’ Choice Award.

Winners of all awards will receive gift certificates donated by Borders, Hickory Park, Chocolaterie Stam and other local businesses. The winner of the Critics’ Choice award will receive a handmade journal bound by the staff of the Preservation Department.

Attendees can make themselves eligible for gift certificates from McDonald’s and Fareway by voting for their favorite entries. Treats donated by Hy-Vee and the Cupcake Emporium will be available at the event on a first-come-first-served basis.