Food in Fantasy: Appealing Dishes (Part Two of Three)

Christian Fantasy

Any discussion of food in fantasy would fall short if it failed to highlight some of the more delectable and appealing dishes.  So today’s post will be all about those foods and drinks I find most appealing, and I hope you’ll chime in and share some of your favorites as well (whether from your own work or books you have read).

In the Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis described foods and feasts which often left me hungry–whether the meal at the beaver’s house, the feast at the end of Prince Caspian, or even the turkish delight (though it would have held stronger appeal if not offered by the White Witch). But perhaps the single food that I most wanted to try after reading the series was the grapes in Prince Caspian. Lewis described them it this way: “whatever hothouses you people have, you have never tasted such grapes. Really good grapes, firm and tight on the outside, but bursting into such cool sweetness when you put them in your mouth, were one of the things the girls had never had quite enough of before. Here, there were more than anyone could possibly want…One saw sticky and stained fingers everywhere and, though mouths were full, the laughter never ceased…till all of a sudden everyone felt at the same moment that the game (whatever it was), and the feast ought to be over, and everyone flopped down breathless to the ground and turned their faces to Aslan.” A feast of perfect grapes (yes, I love fruit) with joy and laughter in Aslan’s presence…sounds wonderful to me!

And Tolkien crafted some appealing foods as well, though his strength might have leaned more toward the invention of beverages, like the ent brew, a drink “like water…and yet there was some scent or savour in it which they could not describe: it was faint, but it reminded them of the small of a distant wood borne from afar by a cool breeze at night. The effect of the draught began at the toes and rose steadily through every limb, bringing refreshment and vigour as it coursed upwards, right to the tips of their hair.” Or what about miruvor, the cordial of the elves?  Or lembas, a long-lasting bread of sorts, both delicious and restorative.

In her recent fantasy novels, Donita K. Paul describes some delectable foods like nordy rolls, crusty on the outside but sweet and nutty inside, and the pale pink pnard potatoes, so coveted that anyone eating them would be sure to scrape the plate clean. And Jeffrey Overstreet, author of the Auralia Thread series, a master of description, crafts his feasts and foods with care–nectarblooms, salty sand-digger cakes, ocean-vine apples, “sparkling like a green moon in the sunlight…countless juice beads sealed within its translucent rind.” I would volunteer to taste-test these fantastic foods, if such could be procured in our world!

And, as a parting note, if you ever have a yen to cook up a fantasy meal, try the Redwall Cookbook. I haven’t read the Redwall books myself, though I know many who enjoyed them, but the idea of a cookbook of fantastic food, I like! Or for an online resource, try Middle Earth Recipes.

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  • Aubrey Hansen
    November 15, 2010 - 12:20 pm · Reply

    Wonderful article! I’ve created a few fantasy foods for this year’s NaNo novel, and I’m fond of my homey dishes. But being more of a realistic writer, I don’t think I’ve created anything as amazing as these masters.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      November 15, 2010 - 6:29 pm · Reply

      Thanks, Aubrey! So far I’ve also stayed fairly close to the realm of reality in my foods also, with some of my own inventions here and there. But I have to say, taking a deeper look at the creative ways others have handled it is inspiring. 🙂

  • Maria Tatham
    November 24, 2011 - 8:37 am · Reply

    Sarah, great post! It gave me a happy feeling…In my fantasy place, people eat much of the same thing we do, especially the coveted poached egg on buttered toast, with tender white and scrumptuous yolk.

    I also use food to show the danger of a place, like (forgive me if you like this!) blood pudding (soup) at the villain’s keep.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      November 29, 2011 - 5:47 pm · Reply

      Yum, you’re making me hungry. 🙂 Or you were until you mentioned blood pudding! Anything with blood in the name becomes immediately repelling to me (and I think to many people). But it’s a good example of how foods can tell us something about story or characters.

      • Maria Tatham
        November 29, 2011 - 6:09 pm · Reply

        Yes, like other sensory details in a story, we need to use the taste, smell, and texture of food. As you said, this builds the world and is another way to show character.

        Like lembas equals the light fare and wisdom of elves, blood pudding is the gloom of villainy.

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