Grape Mrs Carillon... and GRAPE YOU!

Well, hello everyone. This is the famous srah here, gear fab. I have been warned that I am blogging before an audience of untold dozens and am suitably terrified. All day I've been racking my brains to come up with something clever to say, and I'm afraid I'm never going to produce anything of the quality I'd hoped. So I'm just going to babble away and make a greaaaaaat first impression on you all. Congratulations! Here goes!

I would like someday to be an aunt or an honorary aunt or something, so that I will have someone to buy lots of books for, and yet be able to hand them to someone else when they need their diaper changed or start asking questions about The Birds And The Bees or when they start to annoy me. I keep an ongoing list of books that I enjoyed in my childhood so that I can remember what to pass on to these Hypothetical Future Children someday.

I realized, in a conversation I had earlier this week, that some of my fondest memories of these books are the passages about food. What could be more delicious than the Bunsen-burner stew in A Wrinkle in Time or the automat sandwiches and coffee in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler? Actually, probably a lot. Dr Murry isn't particularly known for her cooking prowess and I don't particularly like coffee or stale sandwiches. But these authors make the simplest things sound delicious and desirable.

In The Boxcar Children, they spend most of the book eating things like bread and milk (and don't ever eat anything more sophisticated than cherry dumplings), but the way the bread and milk is described, it sounds like the most delicious bread and milk ever eaten! Milk must be more delicious when drunk from a chipped pink teacup.

I think you learn a lot about the real-life Almanzo Wilder by reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy, because all of Almanzo's memories of childhood (or at least those he told Laura about, or those Laura found interesting enough to write about) seem to revolve around food: taking food to school in a lunch pail, baking potatoes in the fire while harvesting something, his mother frying twisted doughnuts rather than those with holes in the center because they turned themselves, apples 'n' onions on his birthday, biting into carrots and describing the different flavors and textures in one carrot... well, maybe there were non-food-related events in Farmer Boy and I just don't remember them.

In A Girl of the Limberlost, Elnora bonds with her classmates over the treats that they share with each other (hers are simpler and more rustic, but no less delicious than those of the city girls!) and comes to realize the affection that her gruff and distant mother feels for her partly through the lunches that she prepares for her fancy new lunch box:

She walked down the road looking straight ahead until she came to the corner, where she usually entered the swamp. She paused, glanced that way and smiled. Then she turned and looked back. There was no one coming in any direction. She followed the road until well around the corner, then she stopped and sat on a grassy spot, laid her books beside her and opened the lunch box. Last night's odours had in a measure prepared her for what she would see, but not quite. She scarcely could believe her senses. Half the bread compartment was filled with dainty sandwiches of bread and butter sprinkled with the yolk of egg and the remainder with three large slices of the most fragrant spice cake imaginable. The meat dish contained shaved cold ham, of which she knew the quality, the salad was tomatoes and celery, and the cup held preserved pear, clear as amber. There was milk in the bottle, two tissue-wrapped cucumber pickles in the folding drinking-cup, and a fresh napkin in the ring. No lunch was ever daintier or more palatable; of that Elnora was perfectly sure. And her mother had prepared it for her! "She does love me!" cried the happy girl. "Sure as you're born she loves me; only she hasn't found it out yet!"

She touched the papers daintily, and smiled at the box as if it were a living thing. As she began closing it a breath of air swept by, lifting the covering of the cake. It was like an invitation, and breakfast was several hours away. Elnora picked up a piece and ate it. That cake tasted even better than it looked. Then she tried a sandwich. How did her mother come to think of making them that way. They never had any at home. She slipped out the fork, sampled the salad, and one-quarter of pear. Then she closed the box and started down the road nibbling one of the pickles and trying to decide exactly how happy she was, but she could find no standard high enough for a measure.

I won't even start with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, the ultimate foodie-children's book, except to say that it caused me to go through a phase where I kept eating cream cheese and strawberry jam sandwiches.

Anyway, I don't know where I'm going with this post, other than to say that I am obsessed with Children's Books and Food and the intersection of those two is the most delightful thing on Earth. Does anyone else have any favorite food-scenes from books they'd like to share? Anyone? Bueller?

srah - Tuesday, 18 March 2008 - 5:58 PM
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