Saturday, July 25, 2015

Food in Fiction

I love reading about food and looking at food, and I know I'm not alone. Eating can be nice but it can also be a chore (didn't I just finish washing the dishes and now I'm hungry again?), but thinking about  food is simply wonderful. And sometimes it's fiction that makes you think of or crave a certain kind of food. TV shows where the characters are always drinking orange juice or books with a killer description of pumpkin pie, for instance. Here are just a few examples.

1) I Dream of Jeannie: coffee, maybe with toast and (turkey) bacon - Seriously, they're always drinking coffee in this show, and even though an episode says that Major Nelson drinks his with "a little bit of sugar and a little bit of cream," all the coffee always looks black--which makes it look even more crave-able and coffee-like. It was this show that made me start drinking coffee to begin with and to this day I generally prefer it black (and weak . . . ). With the coffee is often toast, like in that delightful bit when Roger is on the phone in the morning while putting jelly on little triangles of toast--oh, that scene makes me want toast so bad that I often do cut toast into little triangles just to make it mimic this scene. They also tend to eat bacon with their coffee; my choice is turkey bacon, and pair it with toast triangles and black coffee and it's like I'm straight in the show.

2) Becoming Earnest: cucumber sandwiches - I don't know where I first heard about cucumber sandwiches, but I was always enchanted by the idea (people don't really eat cucumber sandwiches here and now) and tried to see how thin I could slice cucumbers to make some. So, naturally, all the mentions of cucumber sandwiches and how so and so loves them so much that they must have some for so and so's visit except that what's-his-name eats all of them before she can arrive just made me want go back to my old craving. Care to join me in a tea shop for some lovely little sandwiches with cucumber slices inside?

3) The Chronicles of Narnia: pretty much everything - C.S. Lewis explained that he liked reading about food and therefore knew that children would, as well, so he fills this series with descriptions of food. They're always eating--even the descriptions of the dirt the trees eat at the end of Prince Caspian are tempting. In particular, though, I'd say these books make me crave scrambled eggs--or "buttered eggs," as they're described at one point, making the younger me wonder at what point the butter was added to the eggs. Then there's the infamous fresh fish with the marmalade roll for dessert that the Pevensies have with the Beavers in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; that food is almost heavenly. A lot of fruits in there, too, like the apples in Prince Caspian and a great variety in The Horse and his Boy. And let's not forget the Turkish delight, which I tried specifically because it was in Narnia (Americans don't eat Turkish delight and when they rarely might come across it, most of them think it is very weird, which is of course completely irrational). In fact, I picked up some very nice Turkish delight at Ross earlier this year (later I found a different kind there that was okay but nowhere near as good as the first).

4) The Lord of the Rings: bread and meat - Tolkien describes plenty of food, but I think his descriptions of landscape are generally richer than his descriptions of food, due not in small part to the fact that his characters are off on journeys where they really can't get their hands on much good food. Where he is most vivid, though, is in describing not food exactly but the craving of food--namely, plain bread and meat, which Frodo and Sam crave on their journey to Mount Doom when they have run out of everything except for the lembas bread. It makes you really appreciate a good loaf with a nice crust from your local bakery (if you have a good local bakery, please support it: good bread is one of the wonders of life), and good meat without too much done to it that's just cooked well.

5) Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: candy and chocolate and soda and anything sweet - Okay, let's just go for it. I haven't really read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I'm not fond of the Johnny Depp version, but that original movie is just full of the sweetness. The way that a single chocolate candy bar is so special to Charlie makes you think of how much you enjoyed candy as a child, and the factory makes me think of how much I still love candy stores. I once watched this movie while eating a melted 100 gram bar of chocolate out of a mug with a spoon. Now I just want someone to bring me a bucket full of Smarties--and maybe a few lollipops, too.

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