Famous Foods in Famous Books
Food is a Timeless Teacher
Food description is a powerful tool that authors hold. Books require imagination to read, since most do not have pictures of how things are supposed to look. It is the author’s responsibility to create a sensory reaction to food within the mind of the reader. Whether it is the smooth, semi-sweet taste of the most decadent chocolate cake in the world sending someone into a trance, or hearty, piping hot slice of fresh chicken pot pie that flakes and melts when it hits the tastebuds, intending to fortify someone for battle, food descriptions are only effective if the readers mouth is watering. Food descriptions can connect the characters to the reader, allowing a bridge of relatability.
June 25th is Eric Carle’s birthday. Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar and his other works inspired many, so Feeser’s thought it was an excellent time to celebrate our favorite food in books.
FOOD IS POWERFUL
Food has guided us through every stage of reading. From children’s books teaching us about healthy eating by Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss, to the connection of food in young adult, classic romance, and even in violent action fantasy novels, food can be a unifying factor. Even though they are fiction, the food feels very real. The power of literary food is irreplaceable because everyone needs to eat, everyone has been hungry in their lives, and a lot of people have felt, “I have eaten so much I feel like I could explode” at some point or another. These shared experiences between author, character, and reader allow them to unite and relate.
FOOD IS FUEL
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle was first published in 1969. The colorfully illustrated book is about a baby caterpillar who eats through one apple, two pears, three plums, four strawberries, five oranges, chocolate cake, a slice of cheese, a piece of watermelon, a slice of pie, and more yummy foods. He grows into a large caterpillar, makes his cocoon, and becomes a beautiful butterfly. For a child, it explains that eating is helping them grow. Food is good for you. Food is the center of the lesson of the book, teaching us nourishing foods help people grow, and eating a ton of cake and pie might make us sick. Carle does not label foods as “good foods” and “bad foods”. All foods have equal weight and excitement, while still teaching about moderation in food choices. This simple message has the power to incite healthy relationships between children and food.
TRY NEW THINGS
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess has been read to many picky eaters since 1960. The main character has a disagreement with another character named Sam. Sam insisted that his friend try his favorite meal, green eggs and ham. The main character responds many times to Sam-I-Am, and claims. “I would not like them here nor there, I wouldn’t like them anywhere.” In the end, the main character decides to try the green eggs and ham. He learns he loves them and he, “would like them here or there, he would like them anywhere.” This story inspires us to try things we think we may not like.
ENJOY FOOD WITH FRIENDS
Published in 1865, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been retold, remade, and celebrated to this day. This classic contains the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The party is thrown in celebration of the Hatter’s escape of his beheading by the Queen of Hearts. His tea party consists of “Cucumber Mint Tea” and “Goat Cheese and Watercress Sandwiches,” with different types of bread across a checkerboard tablecloth. Alice is pleasantly surprised by the savory parmesan thumbprint cookies with tomato tart cherry jam. The Hatter celebrates his life with the March Hare, Dormouse, and Alice. Food unified these characters, welcomed Alice, and reminds us of the importance of celebration. This also teaches children to appreciate food, even if it looks different.
DON’T TAKE CANDY FROM STRANGERS
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis created a love for fantasy for many young readers. Published in 1949, the book focuses on three siblings who enter a magical world called Narnia through their wardrobe. Edmund, one of the children, stumbles upon the White Witch. The seemingly kind witch offers him piping hot cocoa that she magically created out of the snow, along with any other food he wants. Edmund choses Turkish Delight, a sweet candy made with starch and powdered sugar. The witch enchants the Turkish Delight, and makes Edmund turn against his siblings. While food is not a positive force in this novel, the power of food is shown through Edmond’s willingness to betray his siblings for it. It teaches the life lesson of taking food and candy from strangers in the woods, even if they look like a Queen.
FOOD IS COMFORTING AND UNIFYING
These foods in literature would be incomplete without Harry Potter. The first novel in the series published in 1997 made many children, teenagers, and adults fascinated by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Countless Harry Potter food scenes occur throughout the seven-book series. Food was used as a form of comfort and comradery. On the first day in Hogwarts Castle, the nervous new wizards are comforted with the most elaborate feast they have ever seen. The meal magically appears in a beautiful spread of roast beef, chicken, pork chops, lambchops, potatoes in all forms, peas, carrots, and the most delicious desserts. The students also visit “Honeydukes”, the incredible sweet shop famous for “shelves upon shelves of the most succulent-looking sweets imaginable”. Or the students could attend “The Three Broomsticks” for a frosty glass of Butterbeer or pumpkin juice. Harry and his gang would also meet at “the Hogshead” or a grimy, old bar away from the administrative ears to discuss their newest scheme. Harry Potter themed food is easy and fun to recreate!
FOOD CAN SPARK LOVE
In Pride and Prejudice, the classic novel written in 1797, food does not hold the lesson, but a very important scene in the book. The main character, Elizabeth, is intrigued by Mr. Darcy, who refuses to dance at any celebrations. At the Netherfield Ball, they eat delicious food that helped unite Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, where they dance together for the first time, showing their desire for each other. The food served at the ball is white soup, made of veal stock, cream, and almonds.
NOW, WE FEAST!
The Game of Thrones series, which was adapted into an incredibly popular TV series, was written by George R.R Martin. Martin is known for describing food in graphic detail, and clearly understands the power of language around food. The different regions in the fantasy world Martin created, as well as the status of the characters, effected the foods they consumed. In the North they ate hearty foods, like beef and bacon pie, baked venison, steak and kidney pie, and ale. Not only was food used to show status and region, but allegiance and pride. Food was used before and after battle, in celebrations and feasts, beheadings, and to resolve tensions between combatting groups.
MEMORIES AND CONNECTIONS
Food in literature can teach a lesson, connect characters, and show the talents of the writer through their depiction of food. Some are simple and consist of delicious imagery, so powerful the reader wants to reach into the book and grab it. Food increases opportunities to relate to characters completely different from the reader. Whether grabbing the glass of Butterbeer at “The Hogshead,” reminds us of the place we hung out at, or the turkey leg in Kings Landing reminding us of past Thanksgivings, foods hold memory and connections to our past and our present.
THIS BLOG MADE ME HUNGRY. WHERE DO I GET THIS STUFF?
Want to try to make some of these delicious creations? Feeser’s has the food to do it! Feeser’s can get the supplies you need to recreate these treats. Make sure to celebrate some of the favorite books by rereading them, gathering with friends, and recreating some of these meals and treats. For information, contact our Sales Team at 717.564.4636