I know. It’s late in the day. But it’s still Friday–Audience Participation Friday. I got an email today from Charles Atkinson, a regular around here, bringing to my attention a post on his own blog about the importance of feasting in The Lord of the Rings. His post summarizes and highlights an excellent post on a blog called The Other Journal.
And it got me to thinking. Food and feasting aren’t just important in Lord of the Rings. They’re important in all kinds of stories. Dickens loved to describe meals. So did Rabelais and Miguel de Cervantes and C.S. Lewis. And then there are the great food movies, like Ratatouille and Babette’s Feast.

What are your favorite meals in fiction, and why? Since I’m getting this up so late on Friday, we’ll let this APF hang around until Monday. Bon apetit!

  • Fellow Traveler
    1:29 PM, 23 July 2011

    Since it hasn’t been mentioned already, I must put in a word for the Christmas feast in _The Wind In the Willows_. The young mice acquit themselves nobly to bring in all manner of good things, to add to what Rattie has already found in his store. The author knew that his son would be fascinated with food details, so he paints a very vivid picture indeed for us.
    I also love the Pevensies’ dinner with the beavers in _The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe_.

    I’m sure there are many, many more that I am forgetting…

  • Alassiel
    9:53 PM, 23 July 2011

    Brian Jacques wrote the most mouth-watering descriptions of feasts.  Every book has at least one feast, and every one made me hungry.  Food is a very important part of life at Redwall.

  • Loren Warnemuende
    2:38 AM, 24 July 2011

    Beatrix Potter always has such wonderful descriptions of food! And I always remember a line in Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery where one of the characters is reading Dickins’ Pickwick Papers and comments that she’s going to get something to eat because reading Pickwick always makes her hungry. I still haven’t read Pickwick, but I want to and that’s one of the reasons!
    This is a timely note: We just celebrated my daughter’s 6th birthday last week and her party theme was Narnia. Everything we did related to something from the books, and so we had a Narnian Feast in which everything served was something mentioned. We stretched a little by having hot dogs–we called them sausages, as mouth-waterinly described at the end of The Silver Chair. We even had real Turkish Delight (but not the enchanted kind 🙂 ). The best thing, though, was dessert. I couldn’t think of a particular cake from the books, and I kept remembering how Edmund tasted the dirt the moles dug up for the trees in Prince Caspian because it looked so much like chocolate. So guess what we had. Dirt pudding! It was delicious, and actually was lovely, too. It also was much easier than a cake!

    • Fellow Traveler
      6:31 PM, 24 July 2011

      I imagine those sausages as being kind of like bratwurst—big, fat, juicy… so you could have done that. 🙂

      • Loren Warnemuende
        1:45 AM, 25 July 2011

        Good thinking! We actually did do brats for the few of us adults 🙂 . They were definitely a ton better than hot dogs.

    • Laura Peterson
      12:34 AM, 25 July 2011

      Loren, that passage from “Anne of the Island” was absolutely the first thing I thought of when I read this APF topic. 🙂 In case anyone else is interested, here it is:
      “Anne, what are you reading?”
      “That’s a book that always makes me hungry,” said Phil. There’s so much good eating in it. The characters seem always to be reveling on ham and eggs and milk punch. I generally go on a cupboard rummage after reading Pickwick. The mere thought reminds me that I’m starving. Is there any tidbit in the pantry, Queen Anne?”
      “I made a lemon pie this morning. You may have a piece of it.”

      After this scene comes the part of the book when Gilbert *finally* proposes and Anne very sorrowfully breaks his heart. Then, we can only assume, she went to the pantry and consumed the rest of the pie all by herself. I’m sure lemon pies are good for heartache.

      • Loren Warnemuende
        1:46 AM, 25 July 2011

        That’s awesome! …Except now I not only want to read Pickwick, but I want to re-read Anne and eat a lemon pie!

  • Melinda Speece
    12:51 AM, 25 July 2011

    In A Little Princess, near-to-starving Sara makes an imaginary feast in her attic out of Ermengarde’s box of food and invites Becky, the “prisoner” next door. Just as they are about to eat,  they are found out by the headmistress who takes it all away. But when Sara wakes up, there is a REAL feast waiting for her. 

  • Julie Silander
    1:06 PM, 25 July 2011

    This Way to Christmas by Ruth Sawyer.  David is a lonely little boy who was sent away from his home to live in the mountains during WWI.  Each chapter is told by a character representing a different culture, and David’s nurse refers to these neighbors as “heathen”.  The book gives a beautiful “birds-eye view” of Christmas around the world.   All the different stories lead to a Christmas dinner where prejudice is overcome, and all are eating together as part of the larger human family.  

  • Jess
    8:47 PM, 28 July 2011

    I’m way late (been gone for a bit) but I couldn’t help but mention that Ican’t possibly read any book in the Swallows and Amazons series without getting
    hungry. Especially in Winter Holiday when Dick and Dot buy hot meat pies while
    skating. YUM.


    Random note: I’ve noticed that it’s usually British authors that describe
    food and make you hungry.


    The reason why I like certain meals and feasts and “crunchings and munchings”
    (see the Prydain Chronicles) is that they’re a sort of sign that everything is
    okay again. No more starving in dungeons or trekking cross-country on little
    more than lembas. Everyone is free and able to fill their stomachs again. They
    can eat and be satisfied and safe. It’s hard to express, and I feel like I’m
    understating it. :-S

  • livingoakheart
    9:11 PM, 29 July 2011

    The episode with Farmer Maggot and mushrooms in The Lord of the Rings. This was actually a life-changing, because prior to this I would not even try mushrooms. I still will only eat them under the correct circumstances (cooked by my hand alone) but it stretched me to try something I didn’t think I liked. The description sounded so good that I wondered what I was missing.

  • Hannah
    1:09 AM, 31 July 2011

    One of the first things that came to mind was Esther Bolick’s Orange Marmalade Cake in Jan Karon’s Mitford series.  Not a meal exactly, but it’s as every bit as good as Father Tim claimed.  Here’s a link to the recipe: http://imagineannie.wordpress.com/2007/11/09/esthers-orange-marmalade-cake/.  I’d like to try Puny’s Fried Chicken as well; maybe I’ll have to borrow my sister’s cookbook.
    And, whether mouth-watering or not,  Jerome K. Jerome’s descriptions of food in Three Men in a Boat are hilarious.   The tin of pineapple, the cheese, the butter, how the smell of the paraffine oil permeated everything….  Try chapter 4 for starters http://www.cleavebooks.co.uk/grol/jerome/3men04.htm.

  • TJsmith
    3:09 PM, 2 August 2011

    Always recollect Hemingway’s “a clean well-lighted place,” though I don’t remember if it has many food descriptions.

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