Big Read Tucson

Eat, Be Merry, and Support the Arts!

Simin Behbahani

Local Restaurants Make Emily Dickinson-inspired Delicacies for the Big Read

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." For you Hobbits or would-be Hobbits out there, take Tolkien's advice, and wed food, cheer, and, in our case, poetry together by participating in Tucson's Big Read. This project, hosted by Kore Press, spreads literacy and community, joining local artists, businesses, and all citizens, by celebrating the life and works of Emily Dickinson in innovative, off-the-page ways. To this end, local restaurants and bars have developed unique foods and drinks, informed by Dickinson poems and recipes; each delicacy will come with the poem that engendered it.


The following restaurants provide these delicious treats:

Janos Restaurant and J Bar's/Downtown Kitchen and Cocktails (135 South 6th Avenue) - dried currant and sultana bread pudding with mulled wine syrup, cassis sorbet, and prickly pear stained sugar glass

Feast (3719 E. Speedway) - maple spice cake with St. Elizabeth's Allspice Dram with whipped cream

The B-Line (621 N 4th Ave) - gluten-free Coconut Cake topped with flaked coconut, orange blossom honey, and lime

Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria - (2707 East Broadway Boulevard)- panzanella salad with roma tomatoes and mozzarella, Italian wedding soup with meatballs, penne, mozzarella, with marinara sauce and red pepper (for the heat of battle), as well as penne with vodka sauce

Maynards Market (400 North Toole Avenue) - black cake with brandy, raisins, currants, apricots, and dried prunes, as well as the drink from Maynard's Kitchen: The Inebriate, a mixture of Armagnac, Carpano Antica, Fernet Branca and garnished with an orange peel

The Shanty (401 East 9th Street) - "Emily's Passion" drink with champagne, brandy and sweet & sour

Delicacies are served in conjunction with Big Read Tucson. A portion of proceeds go to help support Kore Press and the Big Read.

Tasting Emily

Chef and owner of Feast, Doug Levy, explains his inspiration, "I started reading some of Emily Dickinson's poems and I read this one that starts, 'I taste a liquor never brewed....' It's a very sweet poem, an ode to the wonder of nature. The 'liquor never brewed' made me think of Emily's recipe: Plain Elizabeth's Allspice Dram. We also did a maple spice cake with allspice liquor and a little whip cream. Hopefully it's evocative of the era without being as brick-like as Emily Dickinson might have experienced or baked."

Christine Ziegler, the manager of the B-Line, remarks on the popularity of their Dickinson-inspired Coconut Cake, "We've sold at least two whole cakes, which is rare. I think people respond to the whole event around it. People come in specifically because of the event, enjoy the cake, and further help the cause. The staff loves the cake as well. Our baker modernized Dickinson's recipe by adding homemade blackberry jam in between cake layers and on top to bring some color and a little more deliciousness."


Want a bite? View participating restaurants' websites here!


Feast - Logo          





Plus, check out our tasty Emily treats in the news!


"Emily Dickinson birthday bash in Tucson" - CS Monitor

"Emily Dickinson takes over Tucson" - NPR