Sunday Salon: Food and Fiction

Food from literature that you’d like to sample:

1. Chocolates and sweets from Roald Dahl’s Boy and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:

We lingered outside its rather small window gazing in at the big glass jars full of Bull’s-eyes and Old Fashioned Humbugs and Strawberry Bonbons and Glacier mints and Acid Drops and Pear Drops and Lemon Drops and all the rest of them

2. “Foaming tankards of hot butterbeer” and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans (‘A Risk with Every Mouthful’) from J K Rowling’s Harry Potter. Flavours include peppermint, marmalade, coconut, spinach, liver, tripe, bogey, curry, sprouts, toffee, sardine and grass.

3. Turkish Delight from C S Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (I’m not fond of turkish delight, but the type that Edmund ate was ‘magical’, and therefore delicious)

The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious.

And yes, I have a bit of a sweet tooth.

A fictional meal you would like to have attended:

Not a ‘meal’, as such, but I would have loved to attend one of Jay Gatsby’s parties. Oh, and the Box Hill strawberry picnic in Emma. And maybe the Mad Hatter’s tea party from Alice in Wonderland, though I’m not sure if I could actually stand the ‘nuttiness’ in real life.

A memorable work of fiction set in a restaurant or a café:

Can’t think of one on the spot – anyone have a good answer to this?

Food you’ve tried that didn’t live up to the expectations raised by a fictional account:

Marmalade. When I was little, I used to put marmalade on my toast even though it was too tangy for my liking, because of Paddington Bear!

An unappetizing food description from fiction:

Miss Havisham’s wedding cake, from Great Expectations

An epergne or centrepiece of some kind was in the middle of this cloth; it was so heavily overhung with cobwebs that its form was quite indistinguishable; and, as I looked along the yellow expanse out of which I remember it seeming to grow, like a black fungus.

A recipe you’ve tried or a meal you’ve recreated from fiction:

I haven’t tried this, but it would be quite an interesting experiment to try and make my sandwiches “dance”

Food you associate with reading:

None in particular, although I’ve noticed I tend to eat a lot of fruit when I’m reading. A lot of grapes, and watermelon. In summer I sit out in the garden with a glass of frothy orange juice (not the store-bought variety).  In winter it’s either cocoa with whipped cream, or green-tea latte (also not the store-bought variety).

Your favorite food-focused book/writer:

Enid Blyton! All her books focus on meals. There’s one from the Adventure series where the four children stay at a farm, and she spends about three pages describing the food – a cold ham, fresh goat’s milk, cheese and bread, scones with clotted cream and jam, a bowl of blueberries…

And I know this isn’t fiction, but Peter Mayle. A Year in Provence was at times torturous to read, because the descriptions of food were so well-written.


17 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Food and Fiction

  1. Well done! And really gets me thinking.

    Two summers ago, I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory out loud to my children, and we discovered that we needed LOTS of chocolate to eat to get through. The book makes you crave chocolate in the most intense way! Do not know if it is true, but once heard that Roald Dahl’s school was next door to the Cadbury chocolate factory, and that a few times a year, well-behaved students would get to go over for a tasting of new product. And the smell of chocolate was always in the air. Talk about a distracting school environment. If true, this story might account for the frequent appearance of chocolate in Dahl’s works.

    1. Frances – oh, that would definitely explain all the chocolate! If I lived next to a chocolate factory, I would probably be like Augustus Gloop.

  2. What a great meme! I’ve been sitting here trying to think of some others I’d add. Diana Abu-Jaber has a book that has quite a lot of Persian food in it with a main character who is an Iranian-American chef (I think the title is Crescent) and the food she describes in there always appealed to me.

  3. Mm.. two of my favourite things.. fiction and FOOD! Love all your answers. One of the things I look forward to in Harry Potter is reading about different flavours of treats and such. I can’t think of a book set in a restaurant or cafe either, off the bat. I’ll have to really think backwards there. This sounds like a fun meme to do and I might steal it one of these days. :D

  4. Reading Gone with The Wind over the last few days, I found myself hungry for pancakes (when Mammy forced Scarlett to eat) and barbecue (because of the descriptions of food at the Wilkes’s party…oh my!). Nobody tells you reading can be bad for the waistline!

    1. Priscilla – same here, actually. I would love it if Mammy tried to force food on me before balls, or what not. I suppose reading itself isn’t bad for the waistline, but the cravings that follow afterwards (and the subsequent visits to the pantry/fridge) can be !!

  5. You actually CAN get Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans in real life! You can’t just pick them up at the supermarket, but I’ve seen them in the bookstore (of all places, it seems appropriate!) and maybe specialty candy stores. And I’ve actually eaten a box, and while some flavours are good, the sardine ones? Terrible! (But probably better than earwax!)

    1. Steph – I think I’ve seen them around. They’re made by the Jelly Belly company, right? I thought of buying a box, but then I thought they’d taste the same as regular Jelly Belly ones, and plus I didn’t want to risk eating ones like sardine. Do they actually taste like sardine?

  6. I’ve never had a sardine in real life so I can’t judge the authenticity. But the one I got had a distinctly fishy flavor, kind of like a cod liver oil tablet. It was unpleasant, and I avoided all similarly colored beans in the box! The pepper flavoured ones weren’t terrible, though the dull grey color was less than appetizing. Oh, the soap flavoured one was pretty terrible too!

    And yes, I believe it is Jelly Belly who makes them. By and large the flavours are similar, but there are some new flavours in there. I’m not a big jelly bean eater, so without the Harry Potter allure, I’d be immune to them!

  7. ooh, i agree with you on enid blyton. ESPECIALLY the foods she created in the Magic Faraway Tree books. The pop biscuits and the machines that churned out any food you could think of…mmm. I also like the Christmas feasts described in the Harry Potter books. I think I just like any description of neverending food!

    1. estelle – for some reason, I can remember very little about the Magic Faraway Tree books; I only remember that I read a lot of them when I was little. Moonface, and some enchanted forest. And the little place up in the trees where the children go off to adventures. That’s about all… Can’t remember pop biscuits, or food-churning machines.

      Steph – pepper sounds interesting. I actually quite like soap flavoured things. There is a Japanese soft drink that is soap-flavoured. Well, it says soap on the cap, but I think they actually meant ‘soda’.

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