Food is an important part of the plots of these stories, but it’s not always the focal point. They have characters who are shopping for food, cooking it, and eating.
The Misplaced Attachment of Mr. John Dounce | Charles Dickens
A group of men, ‘Old Boys’, organize their days around their eating and drinking. One evening while returning home from eating, drinking and socializing, one of them notices a new oyster shop with a lovely young woman serving.
Tea | Saki
James, a bachelor, feels the public pressure to settle down and find a wife.
A Bunch of Broccoli on the Third Shelf | Lara Vapnyar
Nina goes vegetable shopping every Saturday morning while her husband sleeps in. She’s been in this habit since she came to America two years ago. She plans on cooking them over the weekend, but they always go bad. On Saturday nights she goes to parties with her husband with other Russian immigrants. Nina’s sister says that she was her husband’s ticket to America.
Indigestion | Anton Chekhov
A court counsellor sits down to a lavish meal and fills his plate with rich food.
Read “Indigestion” (This is the whole story. It’s less than 320 words)
The Manager of “The Kremlin” | Evelyn Waugh
The narrator relates a story told him by Boris, the manger of The Kremlin, a restaurant. After serving in the Russian army, he found himself with little money. He has to decide how he’s going to stretch it out to buy his food.
Read “The Manager of ‘The Kremlin'” (Ctl + F the title. It’s close to the top)
Babette’s Feast | Isak Dinesen
Two aging sisters keep their late father’s church going and minister to the poor in a town in Norway. At the request of an old beau, they take in Babette Hersant as a maid after she flees Paris.
Sorry Fugu | T. C. Boyle
Albert, owner of D’Angelo’s restaurant, reads a review of Udolpho’s, a favorite restaurant of his. It was written by Willa Frank, a caustic restaurant reviewer who hates everything. Albert’s restaurant hasn’t gotten a review in a major publication yet. He wants Willa Frank to go to D’Angelo’s.
Lillian | Erica Bauermeister
Lillian’s father leaves when she is four. Her mother turns to books for escape. Lillian takes on much of the housework and eventually discovers cooking. By age eight she takes over the cooking duties.
Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen | O. Henry
An older, upper-class man has a tradition of treating a local destitute man to a hearty Thanksgiving meal. One year the poor man arrives at their meeting place in a state that puts their tradition in jeopardy.
The Luncheon | Jeffrey Archer
A struggling writer gets roped into taking the wife of a famous movie producer to lunch. He only has thirty-seven pounds in his account. She makes their reservation at an expensive restaurant; he is worried about being able to cover their bill.
Witches’ Loaves | O. Henry
Miss Martha is a forty-year-old woman who owns a small bakery. She has a regular customer, a middle-aged man who always buys two loaves of stale bread, never anything else. She takes an interest in him, and tries to find a way to get to know him.
Pet Milk | Stuart Dybek
The swirl in the narrator’s coffee from the evaporated milk reminds him of his grandmother. It also reminds him of the swirl in a drink he used to get with his girlfriend. He remembers their young love.
The Language of Men | Norman Mailer
After failing at a variety of assignments, Carter becomes an Army cook. He does well and is promoted. After a while, he puts more effort into the meals, improving the taste and quality of his dishes. He doesn’t think the men appreciate what they’re getting.
Simple Recipes | Madeleine Thien
The narrator relates some memories from his boyhood. He learned a special way of cooking rice from his father. His mother worked at Woodward’s. His older brother is more distant with his family. They immigrated to Canada from Malaysia before the narrator was born.