Few books stick with us like the ones we read as kids. And for a lot of us, the parts of those books that we remember the most are the scenes with food. So grab a snack and get ready for some nostalgia, as we take a look at ten of the most memorable meals from children’s literature.
1. Green Eggs and Ham: The Title Dish
Possibly the most famous meal in all of literature, the eponymous dish from Green Eggs and Ham is permanently emblazoned on our collective psyche. It’s one of the most recognizable images from children’s literature and has become synonymous with things we don’t want to try (despite the fact that it turned out to be delicious). Yes, it’s a strange meal, but it’s weirdly charming as well, and a story we love, be it on a train or on a plane or on a boat or with a goat…
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Candy
Raise your hand if you ever once read this book without your mouth watering until you drooled. No? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Roald Dahl’s books are packed with memorable foods, ranging from James’s gigantic peach to the BFG’s snozzcumbers. Surpassing them all, though, are the candies that fill the pages of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Chocolate rivers, everlasting gobstoppers, mint sugar grass, toffee-apple trees… just reading about it was enough to send you into a sugar coma. And who among us didn’t want to cover our bedroom in lickable wallpaper?
3. Pippi Longstocking: Pepparkakor
There’s lots of memorable food scenes in the Pippi Longstocking books, but one of the best is undoubtedly the one where Pippi bakes pepparkakor, a kind of Swedish cookie. In typical Pippi fashion, the whole process is fantastically, gleefully over-the-top. Everything about this scene, from Pippi rolling out the dough on the floor to the resulting batch of 500 cookies, is fun. It’s exactly how you always wanted to make cookies as a kid, and you don’t even have to clean up the mess after.
4. I Capture the Castle: The Ham
British author Dodie Smith is best known for her classic work, 101 Dalmatians. Before that, however, she penned I Capture the Castle, a poignant novel about an impoverished family, the Mortmains, living in a ruined castle. The Mortmains are desperate to impress their new landlords, the Cottons— a rich American family with two eligible sons. To that end, they invite the Cottons to dinner and, in an attempt to make their situation seem less dire, proudly serve up a splendid ham… that the Cottons have just gifted to them. It’s an awkward, painful, embarrassing, unforgettable scene with the ham serving as a unique symbol of everything the Mortmains aspire to, but which remains tantalizingly out of reach.
5. Harriet the Spy: Tomato And Mayonnaise Sandwiches
Every day, without fail, the titular heroine of Harriet the Spy dined on tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches for lunch. Her nanny disapproves, insisting that she should try something new, but Harriet refuses and really, who can blame her? Yes, eating new foods is all well and good, but even the most adventurous of us have a standby we turn to in times of stress. Harriet’s signature sandwiches are a constant, something comforting and dependable amidst all the upheaval and tumult of growing up. And who can’t relate to that?
6. Anne of Green Gables: The “Raspberry Cordial”
Most of us get our friends drunk at least once. But it’s usually on purpose and on their twenty-first birthday, not something done unintentionally by mistaking currant wine for innocent raspberry cordial. Yet that’s what happens in a memorable scene from Anne of Green Gables, when Anne invites her best friend Diana over and accidentally sends her home drunk. Diana’s mother is not amused and subsequently forbids the girls from seeing each other, but, as is the case with so many of Anne’s misadventures, things eventually come out right. The scene has become so iconic that gift shops all over Prince Edward Island sell bottles of raspberry cordial soda for visiting fans.
7. In The Night Kitchen: The Cake
With In the Night Kitchen, Maurice Sendak once again combines both the joys and the terrors of childhood, only this time, there’s cake. Delicious, delicious cake. After our hero, Mickey, crawls into bed for the night, he falls into the mysterious Night Kitchen, where a trio of bakers nearly bake him into their cake. Escaping from the batter just in time, Mickey cleverly constructs an airplane out of bread dough and flies off to retrieve the milk the bakers need to finish their task. Definitely memorable and all the excuse you need to eat cake for breakfast.
8. Harry Potter: The Wizarding Sweets
Honestly, all the food in the Wizarding World sounds good, from the feasts at Hogwarts to Mrs. Weasley’s French onion soup. But the candies definitely surpass everything else. With everything from sugar quills to cauldron cakes, it’s no surprise the Hogwarts students couldn’t wait to get off school grounds and over to Honeydukes. Yes, the spells, Quidditch matches, and owls are great, but it’s really the Every Flavor Beans, chocolate frogs, and fizzing whizbees that have most of us still wishing for our Hogwarts letters.
9. A Little Princess: The Buns
This scene from A Little Princess has got to be one of the poignant moments in children’s literature. Sara Crewe— once wealthy and privileged, now an impoverished servant— finds a sixpence and uses it to buy herself some warm buns, the kind of food she hasn’t enjoyed in ages. Just as she’s about to enjoy her treat, she spies a beggar girl even colder and more ragged than herself. In the ultimate act of kindness, Sara gives the other girl the food. Sara had previously believed she was only a good person because of her wealth. If this doesn’t prove otherwise, I don’t know what does.
10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Turkish Delight
It’s one of the most memorable scenes from the entire Narnia series: Edmund sitting in the sleigh with the White Witch, feasting on Turkish delight and unwittingly playing right into her ice-cold hands. Sure, a lot of us (at least in the States) probably didn’t know exactly what Turkish delight was, but it had to be absolutely amazing if it could get you to side with the creepy snow queen. And when we found out it was sweet, gooey, delicious candy covered in powdered sugar, well, we admit it— we’d sell our siblings out for that, too.
What’s your favorite fictional meal?
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h/t Paste Magazine