Food and Books
One of the coolest landmarks in the quiet, northeastern corner of Connecticut is the quaint and quirky Traveler Food and Books directly off exit 74 on Route 84. It’s part restaurant, part used bookstore, and when you visit, you’re invited to pick a used book to take home for free. Black and white photos of famous writers line the walls, and you’ll find stands of jigsaw puzzles, coffee mugs, and shrink-wrapped sets of National Geographic dating back over decades. We like this place. It feels like home. They make turkey club sandwiches with toothpicks in the wedges, thick French fries, and Shirley Temples with maraschino cherries. The lower level is a tightly packed warren of bookshelves, where hiding and browsing are synonymous, and all your old book friends await you.
But beyond the place itself, I’m intrigued by this concept of Food and Books, as if they’re a team, or interchangeably precious. Food is to the belly what books are to the mind, and I’d argue we need both to be well and happy. I’m reminded of Frederick Douglass, who traded his scarce supply of bread with the white boys in Baltimore so they’d teach him to read. He was so hungry to learn, he literally starved himself for it.
For those of us who can’t get enough, is there a link today between over-reading and over-eating? Not according to a recent Canadian study of sedentary habits and obesity. The research by Statistics Canada showed that not all sedentary activity is the same, as readers are less likely than TV watchers to be obese.
Besides, books make us happy. They contribute to immediate and enduring happiness, the way good, nutritious food does. For me, few indulgences are sweeter than curling up with a favorite book and a nibble of fudge. That’s what I’m up to tonight.