Literary Foods: Beatrix Potter’s Roasted Apples

I have adored Beatrix Potter’s little stories since I was very young. One of my very first memories is of my dad sitting me on his knee and reading me the “Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher”. I remember asking for it to be read to me again and again and shivering when the unique frog food of “grasshopper with lady bird sauce” was mentioned at the end.

Beatrix Potter--leads to a nice 5 min videoBeatrix’s little books are full of references to food. From the Roly-Poly Pudding to Peter’s feast in Mr. Gregory’s garden all the way to a mouse size banquet in the Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse and Ginger and Pickles wonderful store with mentions of sugar, peppermints, cream biscuits and water crackers. Almost all of Beatrix’s books include some reference to food or at least to the classic English custom of teatime.
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Literary Foods: Little Women and a Civil War Treat

Little Women has been one of my most favorite books since I was a teenager. Surprisingly, I didn’t read the whole book through until I was around 15 or 16, but the movie has always been one of my go-to comfort films. Probably because it was one of the very first period drama movies I watched and actually enjoyed. 🙂

When I was thinking about a recipe to try that reminded me of Little Women, I was inspired by the short passage from the book about the Christmas breakfast that the March sisters so willingly give up to others.

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Literary Foods: Plum Pudding

“But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone—too nervous to bear witnesses—to take the pudding up, and bring it in.

Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose—a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.

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Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that, now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.”
A Christmas Carol , Chapter 3

Except for this scene and several others in The Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist’s gruel and the old wedding cake in Great Expectations , food doesn’t play a huge part in the novels of Charles Dickens. Perhaps it was because he, as a writer, was more concerned with showing and exposing the dour poverty and the dirt of his time than the feasts and holiday foods of those who could afford them.

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