Friday, September 26, 2008

Butter Beer with Bernie Botts' Beans, Anyone?

HALLIE: Picking back up on our favorite kids' books and merging it with another favorite topic, food...

My sister Amy Ephron, has posted a wonderful essay by Agatha French on her ONE FOR THE TABLE web site.

("Anne of Green Gables is, to put it plainly, a total badass," says Agatha. "The recipe for raspberry cordial, a drink that featured prominently in a famous episode of the book, begins with this Anne-ism: 'I love bright red drinks, don’t you? They just taste twice as good as any other color.' Which in my opinion is totally true.")

So then I started thinking about other great children's lit and the food it inspired...

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook--pioneer food. Recipes were adapted from her personal records. A lovely recipe for gingerbread.

The Narnia Cookbook written by one of C. S. Lewis's stepsons. Gooseberry fool and steamed pudding, anyone?

Mary Poppins in the Kitchen by P. L. Travers. Shepherd's pie and tips on making a souffle, delivered with MP's brand of dry wit: "You must wait for the souffle--it won't wait for you."

Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes--recipes, compiled by Josie Fison and Felicity Dahl and illustrated by the wonderful Quentin Blake, are for dainties like mosquitoes' toes and wampfish roes. Edible marshmallow pillows take two days to make.

Which took me back to Dr. Seuss's Scrambled Eggs Super and Green Eggs and Ham;" Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice; and my kids' favorite Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

HANK: Stone Soup, of course. And hunny, if you're planning a visit to the Hundred Acre Wood. Remember the search for what Eeyore liked to eat?

And in my beloved Many Moons, the Princess Lenore falls ill from "a surfeit of raspberry tarts."

Oh! And in Alice in Wonderland..remember Alice is so hungry, and finally gets to the Queen of Hearts' banquet. They show her the "joint," I think it is, and say something like: "Here's the joint." And then Alice reaches for a piece, and they say--oh no, you can't eat it now. Once you've been introduced to the food, the Hatter or someone tells her, you can no longer eat it.

My favorite line is "Alice, Pudding. Pudding, Alice." (I say it to myself all the time at restaurants, when the wait staff shows off the food. I always feel as if we're being introduced. And then I wonder if it's okay to eat it.

Oh--wait, my favorite line is "We had jam yesterday, and we'll have jam tomorrow. But never jam today." Something like that.

HALLIE: Ah, Alice – how I loved that book. And how lovely to find someone who remembers Many Moons, that wonderful book by James Thurber and illustrated by the great Louis Slobodkin, and in which the Royal Wizard avers that though he has “squeezed blood out of turnips for you, and turnips out of blood,” he cannot get the Princess Lenore the moon.

Please, share your food/kidlit memories...


  1. I have scoured my brain trying to come up with food memories from kids literature, but except for wondering what the hell porridge actually was, and why the temperature was so crucial for Goldilocks, I can't come up with any.
    I do, however, remember from television, Popeye's love of spinach, which I shared, and Wimpy's favorite line, which I think was: "I'll gladly pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today."

  2. My favorite is Winnie the Pooh...

    Isn't it funny how a bear likes hunny.... Buzz Buzz Buzz....

  3. My DH and I often talk about lunch as a "bottle of beer and a spot of German sausage", which we attribute to Badger in THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS. Those characters love nothing better than supper or a picnic on the river. Here's Ratty describing the contents of the picnic basket to the Mole: "There's cold chicken inside it," replied the Rat briefly; "coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssladfrench sollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonsadesodawater--" "Oh stop, stop," cries the Mole in ecstasies. "This is too much!"

  4. The food described in Brian Jacques 'Redwall' books is mouthwatering: 'deeper-n-ever pie', 'October Ale' and oh, so many more.

    From my childhood are the Billabong Books (15 in all) about the Linton family in rural Australia. The food descriptions and fun are legendary. I use a similar vein of language when describing food in my ongoing Victorian Koala Fantasy novel. :-D

    Agreed, there are a lot of books I read as a child, most of them mentioned or lavished detail on food, but I can't recall any of them accept for the above.

    Am now hungry, so off to luncheon...


  5. Thanks, Calypso. Now I'm humming...
    buzz buzz buzz, I wonder why he does.

    And Roberta, maybe you can explain this. As a kid, I always thought Wind in the Willows was scary.

  6. "Uhm, hmmm, so you thought Wind in the Willows was scary," she says, absently rubbing her chin and jotting a note on the pad beside her chair. "Tell us more about that, Ms. Ryan."

    No really, inquiring minds want to know--I adored every one of the characters in WITW. Though I certainly wanted to take the Toad by his slimy shoulders and shake him.

  7. I remember the enchanted Turkish Delight used by the Snow Queen to tempt Edmund in the Narnia series.

    And in the Nancy Drew The Clue in the Crumbling Wall a guy named Mehearty (well, Nancy called him that) who sold clams by walking through the neighborhood. He claimed his clams were 'nutritious,delicious, delectable and thoroughly respectable!'

    I can't eat seafood of any sort, but I'll always remember Mehearty and his clams.

  8. You women all have incredible memories..either I have totally blocked out my childhood or I was too busy playing with my 80 zillion cousins to read that much. (My mother was one of eight and my father was one of nine. I don't remember being alone until I was fifteen.)
    ...but I do love the Wimpy line..

  9. Took me a moment. I seem to recall that there's a scene in Little Women in which Marmee (that name always bothered me) gave the girls hot baked potatoes to put in their pockets when they went out for the day--thus serving as handwarmers and lunch!

    I think the Kenneth Graham illustrations for Wind in the Willows contributed to the spooky effect. They were always kind of spiky and menacing, no matter how light-hearted the subject.

  10. Actual Turkish Delight turns out to be a big disappointment after reading about it in The Snow Queen.

    And how could I have forgotten my all time favorite read-to books, Carl Sandburg's "Rootabaga Stories" with:
    - The Village of Liver and Onions
    - The Village of Cream Puffs
    - The Hot Dog Tiger
    - Jason Squiff's Popcorn Hat, Popcorn Mittens and Popcorn Shoes

    And that source of inspiration for striving writers:
    - Three Boys with Jugs of Molasses and Secret Ambitions

  11. I lately remembered that Mary Poppins (in the book, perhaps not in the movie--Spoonful of Sugar or nay) had a bottle of elixir that she spoonfed to the children, and it tasted different to each child, but wonderful to each, as well.

    I don't remember what the elixir was for or what was in it --something shy of Holmes' Seven Percent Solution, I hope.