The Search for Delicious

Palisades LibraryRead FeedStaff Picks

The Search for Delicious

Recipes from Children's Literature

Have you ever read a book that featured an item of food, either real or imagined, that sounded so delicious you wanted to taste it yourself? As a child reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, I wondered how delicious a Turkish delight was. What could possibly taste so good that you would sell out your family and friends? When I ate a Turkish delight for the first time, I thought it was disgusting. It tasted like roses and was not a flavor profile I enjoyed. However, when I actually went to Turkey and discovered the many varieties of lokum available, I was floored. They were puffy, truly delightful little morsels of sweetness. Good-bye, Mr. Tumnus.

Though I hope you won't be following my path of culinary moral ambiguity, the library has lots of other books that can help you to recreate many recipes from literary fiction, whether you are cooking for a child or your inner child.

The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories
by Barbara M. Walker

This cookbook goes above and beyond being just a cookbook. In over one hundred recipes Walker provides an abundance of historical content for the Little House books and for the food mentioned. Recipes provide information on how ingredients were stored and what they would be, as well as how one would prepare the recipe in pioneer times and in a modern kitchen. Walker even talks about differences in crops from pioneer times and how a tomato then would taste very different from its modern counterpart. As a reader and potential chef, you may choose to be more inspired by Ma Ingalls' recipes than to actually make the exact recipes, which are doable but probably not practical or suited for the modern palate. The Little House Cookbook is a fascinating read, and an enriching companion to re-reading the series as an adult or with a child.

Mary Poppins in the Kitchen: A Cookery Book with a Story
by P.L. Travers

Mary Poppins, perfect in every way, has been called upon to mind the kitchen with the Banks children for a week. In the kitchen the Banks children learn cooking basics and visit with beloved characters from Travers' other seven Mary Poppins books. Though short on story, there are about 30 fairly simple introductory recipes (including ginger stars), organized from A to Z. While some of these recipes would be suitable for a Mary Poppins style tea time, sadly it would have to be held on the ground and not on the ceiling.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory--More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and Wizards
by Dinah Bucholz

Who hasn’t wanted to be a student at Hogwarts? Sure, there’s the magic, the fantastic creatures, and Quidditch, but think of the food! Being at a Start-of-Term feast would be almost as exciting as being sorted into a house by the Sorting Hat. With this ebook though, you won’t have to be relegated to Nearly Headless Nick status: you, too, can cook some of the food from the world of Harry Potter. There are lovely recipes for pumpkin juice, treacle tart, and Hagrid’s rock cakes. Some of these foods feel more regional than magical, but are still mentioned in the book and definitely give it character. Some of the recipes will definitely need a bit of grownup help, but will be a fun attempt for fans of the series. Sadly, this cookbook doesn’t include a recipe for butterbeer.

The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook: From Turkish Delight to Gooseberry Fool-Over 150 Recipes Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia
by Dinah Bucholz

Bucholz is a woman after my own heart. I was beyond thrilled to discover that she wrote a second literary cookbook after The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook and that it was for the land of Narnia. Bucholz recreates meals from many of the scenes throughout the Narnia books and relishes the little details Lewis included in his food descriptors. Bulchoz though, goes above the delicious and invokes some of the feeling associated with the scenes in the Narnia books, creating the calming nostalgia that many of us have with foods of our childhood. Bucholz is also true to the recipe contents and techniques and warns grownups that recipes and beverages may not be suitable for young palates. Like the recipes from the Mary Poppins book, this one has some food items that are quite British (like a breakfast of broiled kippers, pavenders or kidneys), but you may find that you like these new food item or are willing to try some of the more conventional and possibly more appealing recipes within the book. I for one am looking forward to having a wintery snack of Turkish delight (sans rose water) and a hot vanilla while reading a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Fairy Tale Feasts : a Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters
by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen, prolific writer of many fun picture and fantasy books, has compiled a collection of fairy tales and recipes for those seeking a literary and culinary experience. The cookbook features breakfasts, lunches, soups, dinners and desserts, and ranges from simple pancakes to slightly fancier dinners. Most of the recipes though are fairly simple and accessible to a child who would want to help or even, with older children, take charge in the kitchen. There are also informative notes about recipes, terminology and ingredients that will enrich a tale and create opportunities for experimenting with recipes. Yolen has also written Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts: a Literary Cookbook.

Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook
by Georgeanne Brennan

When I was a kid, green eggs and ham never really appealed to me. One, I didn’t eat ham. Two, what had turned the eggs green? The dish didn’t sound particularly good for you or, more importantly, remotely tasty. I did, however, like food that looked like something else, and (obviously) love recipes from literature. There are some tasty-looking recipes in this book from all over Seussville. The green eggs look especially good since the secret to green eggs is lots of avocado. The Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook is definitely for the child who wants to create a Dr. Seuss-looking menu and would like to make food fun.

I hope that this list inspires you to cook along with your favorite children’s book! If you do end up making a dish from one of the books, please share it with us! You can tweet us @dcpl or share it on our Facebook page.

The title of this post references the Search for Delicious, a children's book by Natalie Babbitt, in which a young man is sent out to poll the kingdom for what food is the most delicious. Strong opinions on this topic lead to arguments that bring the kingdom to the brink of civil war. Fortunately, you don't have to decide what's the most delicious. Check out our cookbooks, magazines, books on food and our Feeder's Advisory Facebook Group for your next amazing meal!