Monday, March 7, 2016

Food In Narnia

Bit by bit I'm turning into a food blogger:) Having discussed American style cooking  I'm now moving on to traditional British food as illustrated by mid-20th century children's books.

I don't currently own all of Narnia stories, but I think The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe gives a great illustration of what I mean.

Apart from Turkish delight, which we aren't going to discuss today, there is a famous tea party with Mr. Tumnus the Fawn in Chapter Two, where besides tea itself other things are served, such as (lightly) boiled eggs, "sardines on toast, buttered toast, toast with honey and a sugar-topped cake." (HarperCollins Children's Books, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 2001, pp. 21-22.)

Toasted bread with butter, jam or honey is typically English, I guess. We then have dinner party with Mr and Mrs Beaver in Chapter 7. It features milk for children, boiled potatoes with butter, fried trout, bread, beer for Mr Beaver and marmalade roll with tea for dessert. It's rather simple food but every time I read about it, by some reason I always get hungry.

Somehow C.Lewis managed to create a very homey atmosphere in this story. He was apparently not insensible to domestic comforts, something which few people nowadays seem to appreciate. Those domestic comforts are impossible though without a homemaker, a person who devotes herself nearly exclusively to managing her household, like Mrs Beaver in the story.

It's interesting that as the story line progressed the books were getting less traditional, going from "wars are ugly when women fight" to Susan becoming a traitor to Narnia because she gets interested in make-up and pretty clothes (and evidently, catching a husband:), while Lucy bravely goes out to war with her bow and arrows.

Prince Caspian has some interesting ideas about food, too. In Chapter 10 we read how Trumpkin, the Dwarf wraps apples in bear meat and roasts them above the fire which makes me wonder if you could wrap an apple in a schnitzel and bake it in the oven. One of those days, I'm going to try.

And the last but not least though a bit off topic: while I didn't care at all for Prince Caspian the movie, I really enjoyed watching the screen adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. If you have any favourite children's books with interesting recipes/food ideas, feel free to share in the comments!


  1. Housewife from FinlandMarch 7, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    I have filled beefburger (is that correct? Beef made of minced meat?) with apple slices. And pork works wonderfully with sour apple and dried plums.

    The Famous Five -books where real appetizers, don't you think? I get hungry when I just think about those books. All those cakes.

    I have also enjoyed very much the few eating scenes in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. In the books, I mean.

    Fantasy novels often have very nice foods, too. Big junks of fresh bread with butter and honey or jam and some cheese and apples and such. How can descriptions of very simple food be so very comforting?

    To be honest, I have never read Narnia. Is there any point reading it as an adult?

  2. Yes, of course, Famous Five, I'm going to do a post on them, too, soon. Though they often heavily relied on convenience food as far as I remember.

    The Hobbit has this first chapter with dwarves plundering Bilbo's supplies which is pure gold, while LOTR was more about smoking and drinking, imo:) And exotic Elvish foods...

    Yes, I think beef burger is correct. What a great idea, I'm going to try it, too.

    About Narnia. It depends. It's really a children's book, much more a fairy tale than LOTR, and even the Hobbit. It tends to be preachy sometimes. It has some of late Victorian moralising in it. There were 7 books in total, I liked some of them more than others. It's still a fantasy classic and I'd recommend it if you like this sort of stuff.

  3. My favorite children's series is The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. They are tales of a true family moving to the West in the early settlement days of America. There are many references of food that Ma Ingalls and Mother Wilder prepare for their families. The Ingalls' food reflects the very basic food to sustain life as they move West. The Wilder's food reflects the settled abundance of food as that family remain in the East.

  4. Yes, it's true, there is a lot of info about the food they ate and general housekeeping details in these books. Ma Ingalls cooked everything from scratch. As for Wilder family it appears to me they did overindulge sometimes:)

  5. Housewife from FinlandMarch 8, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    Oh yes, the Little House. Remember, when Pa Ingals ate ALL the Christmas candy and cookies when snowstorm captured him in a snowcave?

  6. Their life was actually awfully hard when you think of it. Most of British children's literature of the period was written from a middle class background, really.

  7. British food has gotten a bad rep from attacks by sophisticates over the last century, but really, it's all good stuff, even if we might also enjoy other things like spicy foods, etc.

  8. (Well, we and they; I'm not British, but I can appreciate their traditional foods - they are my ancestors on my dad's side, after all - even if I prefer more spicy fare, given my mom's East Indian background. :) )