Eating your words never tasted so good

Karla Hayward
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Eastern Edge hosts Mad Hatters' High Tea and Edible Book Feast

There may be no March Hare (though you can't rule it out). And you won't be asked to answer a riddle (though you may feel like you have been, depending on who you choose to chat up). But come Sunday, a tea party will be had, and by all accounts, it will most surely be mad.

It's the Annual Mad Hatters' High Tea and Edible Book Feast, and it happens at Eastern Edge Gallery.

There may be no March Hare (though you can't rule it out). And you won't be asked to answer a riddle (though you may feel like you have been, depending on who you choose to chat up). But come Sunday, a tea party will be had, and by all accounts, it will most surely be mad.

It's the Annual Mad Hatters' High Tea and Edible Book Feast, and it happens at Eastern Edge Gallery.

Tara Bryan is one of the organizers and the originator of the local event. But, she tells The Telegram, that original idea was not her own.

"It was started in 2000 by a couple of women in California. Both are involved in the book arts. ... They basically got the idea to have sort of a party and make edible books. They set up a website and invited book artists in other communities all over the world to join them."

That website is www.books2eat.com. Visit it and you'll see amazing examples of edible books from Australia, South America, Europe and more.

Bite into a good book

So what makes an edible book? Almost anything you can conjure up. Bryan says, "People come up with these incredible ideas. ... Some people do things are that are sort of take-offs; sort of puns on book titles. And some people make things that actually resemble books ... Last year, Erin McArthur made a spectacular 'Alice in Wonderland' cake with Alice and an open book ... it was just the most amazing thing."

Some other memorable examples? How about digging into a deliciously plump caterpillar made from doughnuts, straight out of the pages of "The Hungry Caterpillar." Or maybe you'd like to fall under a witch's spell crafted in Braille and laid out on a slab of decadent dark chocolate. Or perhaps you prefer your tongue in your cheek? Then try a luscious leek quiche sitting under the letter C ("20,000 'Leeks' Under the C," of course).

Edible entries are judged, though perhaps not in the sanest of manner.

"We always have a group of judges. We usually set up categories and then the judges change them and come up with their own categories to give prizes in," says Bryan. Anarchy is clearly encouraged.

To the winners will go books, donated by local book shops and publishers. Prizes will also be awarded to the attendee with the most impressive hat, and the person presenting themselves most like royalty. (Everyone is encouraged to appear in gloves and a hat. High tea, remember.)

Recipes rich and rare

This year, the tea party will also include dramatic readings of an unusual sort, though perfectly in keeping with the edible theme.

They will be taken from "Dog's Breakfast," BAANAL's recently published collection of letterpress-printed recipes by Newfoundland artists, writers, musicians and foodies.

These are no straight-up "sift in flour, bake at 350" type of recipes, mind. No sir. In "Dog's Breakfast," some recipes are written as prose, others as humorous tales, and others aren't meant to be "real" recipes at all.

There are even directions on how to make a balm for cracked nipples contained within. "People were free to contribute whatever kind of recipe they wanted," explains Bryan.

After the judging and awarding the real fun begins - the eating.

Yes, everyone is invited to sample the sumptuous scripts.

There'll even be icing available to customize a cookie, should you wish to make your date eat his words, for once.

Admission is $5, unless you bring an edible book, in which case, it's free. If you do plan to submit a book, Bryan says it is helpful to get in touch beforehand, but, "it doesn't really matter. If people want to make something, they can just show up."

And, if you're simply paralyzed by choice on what tome to turn into a treat? "You can look on the Books 2 Eat website for ideas. It's perfectly all right to steal other people's ideas!" says Bryan.

The annual Mad Hatters' Tea Party takes place this Sunday, April 5, at Eastern Edge Gallery, 72 Harbour Dr. Doors open at 2 p.m. Edible books must arrive before 2:30 p.m, and judging begins at 3.

Organizations: Books 2 Eat, Eastern Edge Gallery

Geographic location: California, Edge Gallery, Australia South America Europe Wonderland Newfoundland

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