Children's books revel in gloriously detailed descriptions of food. On one end of the spectrum there is reassuring comfort food; we might think here of Famous Five picnics with their 'boiled eggs' and 'lashings of ginger beer' or Paddington Bear's 'elevenses', generally consisting of marmalade sandwiches and hot cocoa. But children's literature is never afraid of the fantastic either, and many of the meals described are exotic and even otherworldly. We could think here of Dr Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham or the Lickable Wallpaper in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In C.S. Lewis' Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice eats a potion which tastes like 'a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pineapple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast', which shrinks her to a tiny size. To counteract this she eats a tiny cake which has the opposite effect. And who can forget the Mad Hatter's tea party?
Food is also the realm of the forbidden in children's literature. Edmund's decision to eat the witch's turkish delight in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is his downfall. There is also a rather severe punishment for Augustus Gloop, the unforgettable glutton in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. With these thoughts in mind I decided to look today at some cookbooks which are grounded in the realm of children's literature.
First up is that classic, Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes. In this book, Roald Dahl (with the help of his wife Felicity) gathered together every type of food described in his books, from George's Marvellous Medicine to Danny the Champion of the World. Popular recipes include the 'Crispy Wasp Stings on a Piece of Buttered Toast' from James and the Giant Peach and 'Bruce Bogtrotter's Sensational Chocolate Cake' from Matilda. Delicious!
Or how about Lucie Cash's Fairytale Food? It contains over 60 recipes based on popular tales along with some exquisite illustrations. Including recipes such as 'The Princess and the Pea Soup' and 'Jack's Magical Bean Salad,' the meals described here are simple to make and, unlike the majority of Dahl's revolting creations, are actually edible!
Another popular choice for fans of fairy food is Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Younger Readers & Eaters. With tales retold by Jane Yolen and recipes by Heidi Elizabet Y. Stemple, this one is proving popular with readers and foodies alike. Nigella Lawson, who reviews the book on her site has this to say of it:
I have always had quite an obsession with food-based fairy tales - such as The Magic Pot of Porridge - and indeed have even written one of my own, so was delighted to find this collection of food fairy tales, complete with recipes. It is utterly charming, as is the recipe for Brer Rabbit's Carrot Soup.
Plenty to sink your teeth into here, I think. I hope you have fun cooking the books!