"'What on earth did I ask him to tea for!' he said to himself, as he went to the pantry. He had only just had breakfast, but he thought a cake or two and a drink of something would do him good after his fright. Gandalf in the meantime was still standing outside the door, and laughing long but quietly. [...] Then he strode away, just about the time when Bilbo was finishing his second cake and beginning to think that he had escaped adventures very well." (17)
77 years after the publication of The Hobbit (and subsequently the Lord of the Rings), children and adults worldwide are still reading about second breakfasts, lembas, scavenged bacon sandwiches, pints of ale, feasts, and eleventy-first festivities. While J. R. R. Tolkein is not a children's author best known for culinary creativity, consumption is a recurring theme throughout the novels. The intrepid adventurers enjoy delicious feasts -some makeshift, some splendid- but must also struggle through periods of rationing, famine, as well as the prospect of becoming food themselves. Eating is a source of either comfort or danger. But why would Tolkien include this?
As much as I was a bookworm as a child, I didn't get into Tolkein's most popular and beloved series - The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings - until very late in the game. When I finally read The Hobbit at the age of 19, I couldn't believe that it had taken me so long. As a devoted foodie, I couldn't ignore all of the references to taste and consumption. I hope that this blog turns out to be half as enjoyable to read as I've found Tolkein's work, and keep an eye out for recipes as I put them up.
So "come along in, and have some tea!"(19)
We've adventures to begin.
- J. R. R. Tolkein, (1937 (2012)) 'An Unexpected Party' The Hobbit London: HarperCollins
- Image courtesy of Fanpop (2014). Viewed on web 31/1/14